Crepes Suzette is probably the most famous crepe dish in the world. In a restaurant, a classic Crepe Suzette is often prepared in a chafing dish in full view of the guests. The crepes are served hot with a sauce of sugar, orange juice, and liqueur (usually Grand Marnier). Brandy is poured over the crepes and then lit.
Crepes suzette were made famous in elegant Parisian restaurants at the turn of the twentieth century and have become standard French dessert fare
History of Crepes Suzette:
The dish was created out of a mistake made by a fourteen year-old assistant waiter Henri Carpentier (1880-1961) in 1895 at the Maitre at Monte Carlo’s Cafde Paris. He was preparing a dessert for the Prince of Wales, the future King Edward VII (1841-1910) of England.
According to Henri Charpentier, in own words from Life A La Henri – Being The Memories of Henri Charpentier:
“It was quite by accident as I worked in front of a chafing dish that the cordials caught fire. I thought I was ruined. The Prince and his friends were waiting. How could I begin all over? I tasted it. It was, I thought, the most delicious melody of sweet flavors I had every tasted. I still think so. That accident of the flame was precisely what was needed to bring all those various instruments into one harmony of taste . . . He ate the pancakes with a fork; but he used a spoon to capture the remaining syrup. He asked me the name of that which he had eaten with so much relish. I told him it was to be called Crepes Princesse. He recognized that the pancake controlled the gender and that this was a compliment designed for him; but he protested with mock ferocity that there was a lady present. She was alert and rose to her feet and holding her little shirt wide with her hands she made him a curtsey. ‘Will you,’ said His Majesty, ‘change Crepes Princesse to Crepes Suzette?’ Thus was born and baptized this confection, one taste of which, I really believe, would reform a cannibal into a civilized gentleman. The next day I received a present from the Prince, a jeweled ring, a panama hat and a cane.”
Source: Life A La Henri – Being The Memories of Henri Charpentier, by Henri Charpentier and Boyden Sparkes, The Modern Library, New York, 2001 Paperback Edition. Originally published in 1934 by Simon & Schuster, Inc.
I adapted the original recipe from the book Life A La Henri – Being The Memories of Henri Charpentier, by Henri Charpentier and Boyden Sparkes.
- 2 cups sugar (granulated)
- 1 vanilla bean
Vanilla Sugar (see below): Prepare the Vanilla Sugar a week before using; store in a glass container until ready to use.
Crepes Batter: Using an blender or food processor, blend the eggs, flour, milk, salt, and water to the consistency of olive oil, or until it will pour back silently and smoothly from a foot or more above the mixing bowl. Place the crepe batter, covered, in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. T his allows the bubbles to subside so the crepes will be less likely to tear during cooking. The batter will keep for up to 48 hours.
Cooking the Crepes: Heat a frying pan, crepe pan, or cast iron griddle with 2 tablespoons of sweet butter (do not use too much butter or the crepes will be greasy). Once the pan is well-heated, pour in enough batter, approximately 3 to 4 tablespoons of batter, to cover the bottom of the pan. Tip the pan from side to side to spread the batter thinly, and keep it moving. Do not worry if the crepe is not perfectly round or has uneven edges, as it will be rolled or folded and the imperfections will not matter. The finished crepe should be paper thin.
After one minute, turn the pancake upside down, then turn it again, until it is nicely browned (the crepes should be spotted brown with a smooth consistency).
Fold the crepe in half, and fold again to form a triangle. As the crepes are finished, stack them one upon the other. Proceed to make the remaining crepes, adding butter to the pan only if the crepes begins to stick. NOTE: Also, as when making other types of pancakes, expect that you may have to throw away the first 1 or 2 crepes until you get the pan temperature just right.
Storage of Crepes: The crepes may be made hours ahead of time and kept, covered with plastic wrap, at room temperature. Crepes may be frozen for up to 2 months. When using frozen crepes, thaw on a rack before gently peeling apart.
Prepare Sauce Suzette (see below): When the Sauce Suzette is warm, carefully flame the liqueurs. Check out How To Flambe. When the fire goes out, add the prepared Vanilla Sugar mixture. Then plunge the folded crepes/pancakes into the warm Sauce Suzette. Turn them, and add the remaining 2 ounces of blended liqueurs. When the fire dies down again, they are ready to serve.
Serving: Garnish with thin strips of orange zest.
Serve three crepes per portion. Spoon a little of the remaining sauce over each serving.
Makes 4 servings.
At least 1 to 2 days before making Crepes suzette, slice a thin piece form the outer rind of an orange, large enough to cover the ball of your thumb, and a smaller piece of lemon rind. Cut both into thin strips, add to 2 tablespoons of vanilla sugar, cover, and put away until the sugar absorbs the flavoring oils.
To make the sauce, melt the 1/4 pound of butter in a large frying pan. When it begins to bubble, pour in 3 ounces of the blended liqueurs and the prepared sugared orange and lemon zest. The Sauce Suzette is now ready to use.
In a glass container, place the sugar and the vanilla bean, cover the container tightly. Set mixture aside (the sugar will be sufficiently scented with vanilla to be used in a week or so). Vanilla sugar will keep indefinitely in an airtight container at room temperature (do not need refrigerate). Replenish sugar as it is used. The vanilla bean is good as long as it is fragrant.
* Check out Alcohol Substitutions In Cooking.
Crepes Troubleshooting Tips:
Source: Crepes: Sweet & Savory for the Home Cook, by Lou Siebert Pappas
Too many bubbles in the batter – If so, the batter was beaten too long at too high a speed in the blender or food processor. Let it stand longer before baking.
Crepes have a lacy pattern – The batter may be too thin; whisk in 1 to 2 tablespoons flour.
Edges of the crepes are crisp with a tendency to crack – The pan is too hot; decrease the heat. Also the batter may be too thin; whisk in 1 to 2 tablespoons flour.
Small holes appear in the crepes – Use more batter and completely cover the bottom of the pan.
Batter curdles like scrambled eggs – There is too much butter or oil in the pan.
Batter will not flow around the bottom of the pan with ease – The batter is too thick/ whisk in 1 to 2 tablespoons milk or water.