The first time I was introduced to crepes was at IHOP. Sure, I was eight years old and I thought they were the best thing I had ever eaten, but my entire perspective on them changed when I ate these delicate, ultra-thin pancakes in Paris. Let me tell you, IHOP has nothing on these.
Ever since my mom and I enjoyed a strawberry and cream crepe at one of the best creperies in Paris, I have wanted to make them at home to try and re-create that magnificent experience.
What may seem like a super difficult task is not as hard as it seems. In fact, crepes are almost easier to make than pancakes...I always seem to overcook or undercook my pancakes, anyway.
Here's how you can bring the taste of Paris to your own kitchen, along with a few recipe ideas to make sweet and savory crepes.
After searching for different crepe recipes and testing them out, I decided that Alton Brown's basic crepe recipe is the best. He offers a great base recipe for you to easily alter to make sweet or savory crepes. For the basic recipe, place 2 large eggs, ¾ cup of whole milk, ½ cup of water, 3 tablespoons of melted butter and 1 cup of flour into a blender.
Note: Place the flour in last so it doesn't clump at the bottom of the blender.
Puree or pulse the mixture together in the blender until everything is combined. You want lots of bubbles to appear on the top of the mixture. Check the bottom for clumps of flour; if you find them, just pulse some more until everything is evenly dispersed.
Pour the mixture into a bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least one hour. You can keep the batter in the fridge up to two days; in fact, letting it sit longer allows the bubbles to form more in the batter, making your life a lot easier -- the crepes won't tear as easily when you are cooking them.
If you would like a more savory crepe, add a pinch of salt, along with your choice of herbs, sun-dried tomatoes or other seasonings to the blender. If you would like a sweeter crepe, add about 2½ tablespoons of sugar, along with vanilla extract or any extract flavoring to enhance your toppings or fillings.
When the batter has rested in the refrigerator for the necessary length of time, you're ready to cook. Heat a nonstick skillet to medium; once the pan is hot, place a tablespoon of butter in it and swirl to coat the entire bottom of the pan. Pour about 1/3 cup of batter into the skillet, quickly swirl to evenly coat the bottom and let it cook for about two minutes.
Alton's recipe says to cook for 30 seconds, but I found this too short.
Basically, you want the crepe to be golden brown on the bottom. As soon as the edges peel away from the sides -- you'll know this when you can easily peak at the bottom of the crepe -- then you're ready to flip.
Use a rubber spatula to lift the crepe off the pan just enough for you to grab with your fingers. Using your fingers, quickly flip the crepe over to cook the other side. Be careful, though; the hot butter that has melted into the bottom of the crepe is quite hot, so you will need to work quickly so as not to burn yourself.
Let the other side cook for about 10-30 more seconds, or until it is golden brown as well, then slide the crepe off onto a cutting board or flat work surface to cool.
Repeat all of these steps to use the rest of your batter; remember to add more butter to the pan so the crepes don't get stuck to the pan.
Crepes are extremely easy to freeze and use at a later date. Simply stack the cooled crepes into a plastic bag, then place in the freezer, or refrigerator if you expect to use them in the coming days. Crepes keep in the freezer for up to two months.
For a beautiful presentation, my mom and I had the idea to add sage leaves to the crepes as they cooked in the skillet. Once they finished cooking, each had several whole sage leaves pressed into it. We gently rolled two sage crepes, then topped with a mushroom-cream sauce. It was definitely one of the most scrumptious crepes I have ever had.
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If you have more of a sweet tooth, you can easily make crepes for dessert or breakfast. One of the best dessert crepes is Nutella crepes. Spread creamy Nutella onto hot crepes, throw in some strawberries, chopped hazelnuts or banana slices, then roll up to seal in all of the ooey gooey filling; top with chocolate syrup and powdered sugar, and you have one of the most simple, yet most delicious desserts.
Roll sweet crepes with sour cream or yogurt, and then top with a freshly made blueberry sauce made by cooking fresh blueberries in a pot to make a sweet sauce.
Making crepes is a lot easier than it seems and the result makes every second of the process worth it.