Monday, May 12, 2014

Easy, Versatile Crepes

If anyone out there has never made crepes, all I can ask is, "WHY?" 

You have all probably made pancakes. Crepes are just thin pancakes. There is no horrible science. They are not at all scary to make. Just a little time investment is all they need. The great thing about crepes is they can be made up to a week in advance of using them, so they are great to make ahead when there is going to be a time crunch. 

Crepes, for all their simplicity, can elevate a meal or a dessert to new heights, just by their very  nature. They look pretty. They look inviting. And, if you thought they were hard to make or too scary - chances are, your guests will think the same and you have just won yourself more culinary points in their eyes! Only you will know how easy they are.
Crepes folded in quarters with a sweet chestnut paste filling
Crepes folded in quarters with a sweet chestnut paste filling

I was scanning blogs and other sites to see what people thought about crepes. Lots of complaints, but then lots of people just like to complain about something. A recipe I saw with similar amounts to mine had one woman say she was busy for "hours" making these and what a pain it was. It took me just 2 minutes per crepe. My turnout was 17 crepes, so approximately 35 - 40 minutes in total. The nice thing is, once the batter is made, it has to be refrigerated before use, so that step can be done up to a few days ahead. When ready to make the crepes, they do not have to be made all at once. Heat the skillet and give yourself 15 minutes. Make as many in that time as you can. Stack them between waxed paper and store them in a zip-top bag in the refrigerator. Next day, make a few more and stack them with the ones made previously, and so on. Crepes are the ultimate in do ahead ease.

Crepes with Ricotta Cream Cheese Filling and Blueberries
Crepes with Ricotta Cream Cheese Filling and Blueberries
Once you have your crepes, and have decided whether they will be for a sweet or savory application, you will have to decide on fillings. The little bit of sugar in the crepe batter can be eliminated completely if desired, even for a sweet filling; it's just a matter of choice. I made a ricotta and cream cheese filling, flavored with orange zest and vanilla and topped this with fresh blueberries. Any fresh fruit will be good in crepes. Mixtures such as Nutella and banana seem to be a strong contender for a prized filling, particularly for breakfast or a snack. Remember, once the crepes are in the fridge, it is easy to grab one for something quick. Crepes can be rolled, folded in quarters or folded up like a burrito. They can be used to hold blintz filling and fried or baked. They can hold savory foods. Try using shredded meat and gravy for a perky use for leftovers. Use them to hold a breakfast egg mixture of choice. The applications are endless and only limited by your imagination.

I had not made crepes for quite some time and was unsure how many the recipe would make, so I started out using about 3 tablespoons of batter per crepe. This turned out making crepes that were far larger than needed, so I scaled back to 2 tablespoons of batter per crepe. I got 17 crepes out of the recipe, having started with more batter per crepe, so I am not totally sure of the yield for this recipe. I would estimate at least 20. If you want to make tiny crepes for a party appetizer, try using just 1 tablespoon. My crepes were about 7 inches at first, using 3 tablespoons of batter, and were about 6 inches when I scaled back to 2 tablespoons of batter.

Crepes with Ricotta Cream Cheese Filling
Crepes with Ricotta Cream Cheese Filling


makes about 20 (6-inch) crepes

1¼ cups milk
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
¾ cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar, optional
¼ teaspoon salt 

Nonstick Spray 

These are easiest made in a nonstick skillet measuring about 10-inches at the bottom. Heat the pan over medium heat to start. Once heated, spray lightly with the cooking spray and have ready a spoon, ladle or other measure that will hold approximately 2 tablespoons of batter at a time. Spoon one (2 tablespoon) portion of the batter into the hot pan and immediately lift the pan, tilting and swirling to spread the batter as thinly as possible. Once the batter no longer spreads, set back on heat and wait for 1 – 1½ minutes, or until the top looks dry and it is easy to insert a spatula underneath. Flip the crepe and cook for about ½ minute longer. If the crepes take longer than this to cook, turn the heat up slightly. If they want to burn, turn the heat down slightly.

Stack the crepes on waxed paper when done. If using immediately, set aside on a plate. If making ahead, cool the stack of crepes and store in a sealed container or zip-top bag in the refrigerator until needed.

Ricotta Cream Cheese Filling

enough to fill the above amount of crepes
¾ cup ricotta cheese
6 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
½ cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons fresh orange zest
1 teaspoon vanilla 

Using a hand mixer, combine the ricotta and cream cheese. Add the confectioners’ sugar and beat until incorporated. Add the orange zest and vanilla and beat to combine. Cover and refrigerate until needed.

Use about 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons of filling per 6-inch crepe, smearing quickly over the surface. Top with blueberries as shown, or other fruit of choice and roll up into a tube shape to serve. Top with confectioners' sugar and more berries.

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I am also on a spiritual journey and hope you will join me at my new blog, An Eagle Flies.