Are you ready for romance? The day of love is almost here and what could be more romantic than a classic flaming dessert to fire up your love life?
I’m thinking of – actually rethinking – Crêpe Suzette, possibly the most famous crêpe dish in the world: sorely neglected in recent years, but poised for, and certainly worthy of, a comeback.
Crêpe Suzette is a true classic: elegant, impressive, and absolutely delicious. Guaranteed to please your significant other, it is deceptively simple and easy to prepare. First, you have to make the crêpes. And even though you can buy them ready-made, no self-respecting cook would do so. Here’s how I make them.
1 ½ c. flour
1 t. salt
3 c. milk
5 T. melted butter
Place the flour, salt and eggs in a bowl and add half the milk. Whisk until smooth.
Slowly add the rest of the milk, more or less, to reach the consistency of heavy whipping cream.
Strain the batter and allow it to rest in the refrigerator for at least ½ hour. Gradually add the melted butter and mix well.
Heat an 8-inch nonstick skillet over medium high heat.
Lift the pan off the heat, slightly tilt it, and pour about 3 T. of batter on the upper right side – at about 2 o’clock – in the pan. Quickly tilt the pan to coat the entire bottom.
Cook the crêpe on medium-high heat for about 1 minute, or until the edges begin to brown.
Flip the crêpe over using a heat-resistant spatula. Cook the crepe for another 30 seconds. Place on a plate to cool before stacking. Makes 24 crêpes.
Sauce, and fire
2 T. sugar
2 T. unsalted butter
1 navel orange, zest removed
¼ c. Grand Marnier, or other orange liqueur
2 T. cognac
Heat a chafing dish or 10- inch skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the sugar in the pan, add the butter, and stir until the sugar is dissolved.
Add the orange zest. Squeeze the juice from the orange into the pan
Remove the pan from the heat, add the Grand Marnier and stir, but do not flame at this point.
Return the pan to the heat, add the crêpes to the pan, one at a time, and coat the crêpes with the sauce.
Fold each crêpe in quarters and move the crêpes to the side of the pan. Remove the pan from the heat
Add the cognac, return the pan to the heat and cautiously tilt the pan into the flame to flambé. Bring the sauce to a froth and place two crêpes on each dessert plate. Spoon the sauce over the crêpes.
Revel in the ecstasy.
Crêpe Suzette is without doubt one of the most satisfying desserts I have ever had. Every time I prepare this dish, I can only wonder why I don’t do it more often.
Make these crêpes yourself and I’m sure you’ll be asking the same question.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Frank Chlumsky, former executive chef at what was Philander’s restaurant in Oak Park, teaches in Chicago at Kendall College’s School of Culinary Arts. In his 36-year career, Frank has owned restaurants in Michigan City, Ind., and in Lake Geneva, Wis. He has also been executive chef at the Saddle & Cycle Club in Chicago. Frank lives in Forest Park, where he cooks for pleasure.