Although crêpes are French pancakes, I tend to think of them as pancake/tortilla/pasta hybrids. Like pancakes, you can serve them with things such as caramelized apples, berries or whipped cream; and like tortillas, you can stuff them with virtually any savory filling. Scoop scrambled eggs into a crepe, sprinkle with your favorite cheese, then wrap the whole thing together to make a quick, yet elegant, breakfast burrito. Heck you can even use crepes in place of pasta, which is exactly what my husband and I did a couple of weeks ago when we rolled fresh crepes around a filling of ricotta cheese, herbs and mozzarella then baked them in our favorite tomato sauce. Versatility! Ya gotta love it. And that is the wonderful thing about crepes.
Crêpes are made by cooking a simple batter in a frying pan until you have a thin, butter-browned pancake/tortilla/etc that can then be filled and folded in a variety of shapes for decorative presentation. In France crêperies serve crêpes as a form of fast food and I recently discovered that there is a crêperie in New York City. They were featured on “Throwdown with Bobby Flay” and have an enticing array of crêpe variations that are tempting me to visit. I mean, come on, tiramisu crêpes with strawberries, nutella and whipped cream is just too much. Right?
In our home my husband has become le crêpe expert and he learned from the best: Alton Brown. We used to think that crêpes were too hard to make at home and that we needed a special pan to achieve crêpe perfection, but Alton convinced us that they are no more difficult than pancakes once you know how to make them. Describing how to make crêpes is (I think) I bit difficult, so rather than struggle with words I thought I’d simply turn it over to AB. The audio in the video below is a bit off, but that doesn’t matter because what you need to see is his technique. We follow his method pretty much to the letter… except sometimes we do use a spatula to turn our crêpes over. Fast forward to the 9:00 mark to see Alton’s “how-to.”
Now to the recipes in this post. The crêpes featured in the photo above have been filled with a luscious mixture of farmer’s cheese, ricotta and cream cheese, then topped with fresh blueberry sauce. It is so good – you won’t believe you’re eating this fancy in your own kitchen! And though this dish may sound complex, trust me, it’s not – especially if you’ve made your crêpes the night before. Bonus points if you made the sauce beforehand too.
As we’ve seen there’s no end to the kinds of things you could fold into a crêpe, so before I go I want to share some alternative filling ideas I gathered this afternoon when I asked my Twitter friends how they like to eat crêpes. Here are some scrumptious responses, straight from the Twitter-verse:
- rachellake: banana nutella crepes are my absolute favorite. they are a staple for summers in Greece. Rosso, ovenhaven, glamah and desireehall agreed, while nestpasdemains said plain sugar and bananas was the way to go.
- cbsop: I prefer savory over sweet. No real preference as to what gets rolled int hem, from beef to veggies or seafood
- DebIFF: stuffed with ricotta and spinach, then topped with tomato sauce and grated parmesan cheese, then baked.
- shesinthekitche: I still love the traditional crepes with apricot jam.
- jennalucy: me butter, lemon juice and sugar, husband only nutella will do.
- iamchanelle: i love crepes with a little freshly whipped cream tucked inside.
- nikkilooch: with strawberry jam and fresh whipped cream
- Whisk_food_blog: Spread with butter, roll up, and dip in maple syrup. Eat with hands.
- sarahrusso: all ways! strawberries and whipped cream, nutella and bananas, fresh raspberry-cointreau compote…
What about you – how do you like to eat crêpes?
In order to make the cheese-filled crêpes with blueberry sauce shown above, use the three recipes below in this order: Step 1. Make the crepes. Step 2. Make the filling and bake the crepes. Step 3. While the crepes are baking, make the blueberry sauce. Serve the whole shebang immediately. Of course, if you make the crêpes and/or blueberry sauce the night before these steps do not apply.
Step 1. Alton Brown’s Crêpe Recipe
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 cup flour
- 3 tablespoons melted butter
- Butter, for coating the pan
In a blender, combine all of the ingredients and pulse for 10 seconds. Place the crepe batter in the refrigerator for 1 hour. This 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.
Heat a small non-stick pan. Add butter to coat. Pour 1 ounce of batter (Ari’s note: we use 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon of batter for our 10-inch pan) into the center of the pan and swirl to spread evenly. Cook for 30 seconds and flip. Cook for another 10 seconds and remove to the cutting board. Lay them out flat so they can cool. Continue until all batter is gone. After they have cooled you can stack them and store in sealable plastic bags in the refrigerator for several days or in the freezer for up to two months. When using frozen crepes, thaw on a rack before gently peeling apart.
We used the above recipe for the crêpes in the photo, but here are two additional variations:
*Savory Variation: Add 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs, spinach or sun-dried tomatoes to the egg mixture.
*Sweet Variation: Add 2 1/2 tablespoons sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 2 tablespoons of your favorite liqueur to the egg mixture.
Step 2. Cheese Filling
Ingredients: Makes enough filling for 8 crêpes
- 1/3 cup farmers cheese
- 1/3 cup ricotta cheese
- 1/3 whipped cream cheese
- 1 egg
- A splash of vanilla
- Pinch of salt
- 1 tablespoon of sugar
- 3-4 tablespoon of melted butter
In a small bowl combine all the ingredients and mix well. Spoon 1-2 tablespoons of filling onto the lower third of a crêpes. Fold over the bottom half of the crêpes (the part with the filling), then fold over the two sides, then roll the whole thing up so that you have a little envelope. Repeat for other crêpes.
Brush a baking dish with 1/2 the melted butter. Place the filled crêpes in the pan, seam side down, and brush with butter. Bake for 15 minutes at 400 degrees F, or until golden brown.
Step 3. Fresh Blueberry Sauce
(This sauce is really good on ice cream too, btw)
From The Big Book of Breakfast: Serious Comfort Food for Any Time of the Day, by Maryana Vollstedt.
- 3 tablespoons of sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 pint (2 cups) fresh or frozen blueberries
In a medium saucepan over high heat, combine sugar, water, cornstarch, and lemon juice. Whisk until blended, then add blueberries. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly, until juice is clear and sauce is slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Cool, then transfer to a bowl, cover, and store in refrigerator. Serve at room temperature.