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The Delectable History of French Fast Food: Crêpes Suzette

If you’re a fan of elegant French desserts, you’ve likely indulged in the divine crêpes Suzette at some point. This iconic dish of delicate crêpes drizzled with a sublime orange butter sauce has graced the menus of fine restaurants for over a century. But do you know the fascinating story behind this classic treat?

The Origins of Crêpes Suzette

Actually, the true history and etymology of the name “Crêpes Suzette” is uncertain and disputed by food historians. The dish is generally believed to have been developed in France in the late 19th century, but its exact origins are unclear.

Some sources attribute it to the Renaissance-era French writer Brilliant-Savarin and his work La Physiologie du Gout in 1825, while others trace it back to the French chef Montreuil who served Louis XVI. However, most modern references agree there is no definitive creator or origination story that can be reliably verified.

Enduring Popularity

Despite its mysterious origin, Crêpes Suzette remains a beloved dessert worldwide over a century later. The tableside presentation is still common at upscale restaurants, many home cooks have also mastered the art of preparing this decadent treat in their own kitchens.

The allure of crêpes Suzette lies not only in its rich, buttery orange flavour but also in the fascinating story behind its creation. With each delectable bite, diners are transported back to that fateful night in 1895 when a happy accident birthed one of the world’s most iconic desserts.

Whether savoured at a Michelin-starred Parisian bistro or lovingly crafted at home, crêpes Suzette remains a timeless indulgence that pays homage to the culinary ingenuity and romance of its French roots. Bon appétit!

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French Fast Food: Classic Crêpes Suzette

This is a special dessert which can be made in under half an hour. Don't fret if you don't own a crêpe pan, a 7" frying pan will do.
Course Dessert
Cuisine English
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 16 crêpes

Ingredients

For the crêpes

  • 1 cup unbleached flour sifted
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup milk mixed with 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 medium orange grated zest only
  • 1 tbsp caster (fine) sugar

For the sauce

  • 5 oz orange juice (from 3-4 medium oranges)
  • 1 medium orange grated zest only
  • 1 small lemon grated rind and juice
  • 1 tbsp caster (fine) sugar
  • 3 tbsp Grand Marnier, Cointreau or brandy
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • few tbsp, Grand Marnier, for flaming

Instructions

  • Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl.
  • Make a well in the centre of the flour and break the eggs into it, and then whisk the eggs and incorporate the flour.
  • Gradually add the milk/water mixture, whisking until the batter is smooth, with the consistency of thin cream.
  • Melt the butter in a large pan. Spoon 2 tbsp of the butter into the batter and whisk it in, then pour the rest into a small bowl and set aside. Stir the orange zest and caster sugar into the batter.
  • Heat the pan to high, then turn the heat down to medium. Using a paper towel dip into the melted butter and wipe on the pan. Spoon a ½ tbsp of batter at a time in a 7 in pan.
  • As soon as the batter hits the hot pan, tip it around from side to side to get the base evenly coated with batter. It should take only half a minute or so to cook; you can lift the edge with a palette knife to see if it’s tinged gold as it should be.
  • Flip the pancake over with palette knife – the other side will need a few seconds only – then simply slide it out of the pan onto a plate. You should end up with 15-16 crêpes.
  • Stack the pancakes between sheets of wax paper on a plate fitted over simmering water, to keep them warm while you make the rest.
  • Mix all the ingredients, except the butter, in a bowl.
  • Warm your serving plates at the same time,
  • Now melt the butter in the frying pan, pour in the sauce and allow it to heat very gently.
  • Then place the first crêpes in the pan and give it time to warm through before folding it in half and then in half again to make a triangular shape.
  • Slide this onto the very edge of the pan, tilt the pan slightly so the sauce runs back into the centre, then add the next crêpe. Continue like this until they’re all re-heated, folded and well soaked with the sauce.
  • You can flame them at this point if you like. Heat a metal ladle by holding it over a gas flame or by resting it on the edge of a hotplate, then, away from the heat, pour a little liqueur or brandy into it, return it to the heat to warm the spirit, then set light to it. Carry the flaming ladle to the table over the pan and pour the flames over the crêpes before serving on the warmed plates.
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