When I was a child, my grandmother would always make crêpes for our yearly Mardi Gras celebration. She would rise early in the morning to begin her ritual, and I would rise with her and watch in awe. My job was to sprinkle each crêpe with a little sugar as it came off the pan – a job I did with great dedication, since it also gave me a chance to claim any flawed crêpes for myself!
By the time her cuckoo clock had sung midday, dangerously tall piles of crêpes would be ready to greet the interminable stream of neighborhood children who’d come to claim their sugary treats.
Now, whenever I make crêpes, I’m transported back to those joyful days of watching my grandmother flip her lacy pancakes in a single graceful wave. Back then my favorite way to eat crêpes was with peach jam. I would roll them up and devour them in four large bites.
Today I’m more inclined to make savory crêpes, but when I indulge in making the sweet kind, it’s with fresh fruits that I love to serve them. These crêpes with strawberry compote are an all-time favorite. The sweet strawberries are barely cooked so that they’re still firm but have released their ambrosial juices.
A light and exquisite dessert that’s equally lovely for a casual family dinner as for a more sophisticated dinner party… The only thing is, you might want to make a double batch!
Food & wine pairing: Piedmont, Moscato d’Asti with strawberry compote crêpes
A Moscato d’Asti from Piedmont is superb with this dessert – slightly fizzy, not too sweet and as fragrant as the strawberries in the compote.
Crêpes with strawberry compote
active time: 50 min
For the crêpes
- 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- pinch sea salt
- 4 extra large eggs
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
For the compote
- 1 lb (455 g) strawberries – hulled and cut in 1/8″ slices (2 1/4 cups)
- 2/3 cup organic sugar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest (use a microplane grater)
- 1/4 cup Grand Marnier or Cointreau
- powdered sugar as garnish
- mint leaves as garnish
- 10″ crêpe pan
- Step 1: Place the flour and salt in a large bowl and stir until well blended. Make a well in the center and add the eggs. Whisk the eggs and then gradually whisk in the flour by working from the center of the bowl outward. Make sure that as you incorporate the flour, no lumps form. If lumps form, continue whisking until the batter is smooth. Add the vanilla and gradually whisk in the milk until the batter is the consistency of light cream and perfectly smooth. Melt the butter in the crêpe pan and quickly whisk it in the milk mixture. Keep the pan to cook the crêpes in. Cover and set aside for 30 minutes.
- Step 2: Place the strawberries, sugar, lemon juice and orange zest in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. Stir well and heat over medium-high heat. Cook the strawberries until they have released their juices and the sugar has dissolved, about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat, add the Grand Marnier, stir well and transfer to a bowl to cool to room temperature.
- Cook’s note: The batter and compote can be prepared up to 1 day ahead and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before proceeding with the recipe.
- Step 3: To make the crêpes – Heat the crêpe pan to medium-high heat (there is no need to butter the pan again as you already melted the butter in it). When the pan is hot, stir the batter with the ladle, lift the pan off the heat and pour some batter in the pan, just enough to cover the entire surface in a thin layer, rotating the pan at the same time so the batter spreads evenly. Return the pan to the heat. When the surface of the crêpe has dried up and the edge looks golden and starts to curl up (about 1 to 2 minutes) gently flip the crêpe with a spatula. Cook only for 15 to 20 seconds, until golden dots appear. Transfer to a plate, and top with a piece of wax paper (this will prevent the crêpes from sticking together). Continue making the crêpes until no batter is left. The batter should make eight to ten 10″ crêpes.
- Step 4: To serve – Fold each crêpe into quarters in the shape of a triangle and place 2 crêpes slightly overlapping in the center of each plate. Top with the strawberry compote. Sprinkle with a little powdered sugar and garnish with a mint leaf. Serve immediately while the crêpes are still warm.
- Cook’s note: Although crêpes are best eaten right after they are made, they can be prepared up to 4 hours ahead and kept at room temperature. Loosely cover with plastic wrap once they’ve cooled.