Thursday, December 1, 2011

Crêpes 'N Things

The item pictured above is literally something that my boyfriend dug out of his basement. I believe he said someone bought it at a garage sale for cheap in the hopes of using it, which I don't think ever happened until he put it in my hands. (Well, after a few months of putting it in my hands, and it had a brief stay in my roommate's trunk before settling on top of my microwave for a while.)

Despite popular belief, the dated box is right: crêpes are fun and easy! We made them in high school French class on a monthly basis using a free-standing electric griddle. You just need patience. And, in this case, about three rounds of trial and error.

We start with the basics: 3 eggs (4 is better, but all I had was 3), one cup of flour, a tablespoon of melted butter, a couple more tablespoons of sugar, 1 cup of milk, and 1/4 cup of water.

Technically, this is a dessert batter recipe, but since I was running out of sugar, I wasn't able to put in the full amount, and I find that crêpes made without any sugar at all are far too bland to be really tasty. Other recipes I've seen also call for vanilla to add a little flavor, or less eggs and more milk, which would also change the taste.

After thoroughly blending together all of my ingredients in my large mixing bowl, I poured it into my glass pie pan, the perfect size for this "Nordic crêpe pan." Here is where the learning process began.

I first preheated the stove to medium heat, then dipped the smooth, even side of the cold crêpe pan into the pie pan of crêpe batter, lifted it out, flipped it over batter side up, and quickly placed it on the stove. Batter ran everywhere. After letting it cook, I flipped the pan over onto a plate and waited for the crepe to fall off lie it was supposed to. No dice. I tried poking it with a fork to help it on its way, but no luck there either. So I scraped it off with the fork, rinsed the pan in the sink to remove all remnants, and began again.

This time I tried spraying the surface of the pan with canola spray to see if that would help. When I pulled the pan out of the crêpes batter, barely any of it stuck. Another no-go. I went ahead and put the pan back on the stove and drizzled batter over-top. Again, batter ran everywhere, but it mostly stopped short of the edges because the hot pan had immediately started to cook it. Ah-hah! The crêpe also flipped out onto the plate without any problems.

For my third try, I did not spray the pan, but left it empty on the stove a few seconds to be sure it was well warmed. I then dipped it into the pie pan of batter and put it on the stove. Perfecto! (Minus that one time when the pan was too hot and started cooking the batter in the pie pan, but that was well into the process and only a minor mishap.)

Once I had a few made, I called the boyfriend into the kitchen to start experimenting with fillings. We had fig butter, which is basically the stuff they put in the middle of Fig Newtons, honey apple butter, peanut butter, and the thimbleberry jam and black currant jam that I had bought in the UP this past summer. Sadly, no Nutella, my favorite, though I did get to try Trader Joe's new cocoa almond butter yesterday, which is totally going on the next batch of crêpes that I make.

(As a side note, if chocolate nut spreads are your thing, as they are mine, I highly recommend a trip to Cost Plus/World Market. I've not only picked up chocolate hazelnut spread from them, but cappuccino and a white chocolate hazelnut swirl that was wonderful! It depends on the store, but there is usually a good variety of chocolate spreads to choose from.)

Eventually, there came the point where the crêpe pan would no longer pick up batter from the pie pan, so I took most of the remaining batter and drizzled it over the crêpe pan on the stove. Batter ran everywhere. There is a reason I did not scrub the stove clean before I began cooking. This foray easily doubled the mess.

When I folded this last crêpe into quarters after filling it with peanut butter and honey apple butter, it rather reminded me of Cthulhu. I'm sorry that I did not get a picture of it. It was too tasty.

In conclusions, this "Nordic crêpe pan" thingie was not as difficult to use as it seemed (there was no instruction booklet). It just took a little vision and patience. And probably some previous experience with crêpe making in the more usual way with a frying pan.

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