I tasted my first crepe in Paris, on the street. I took it from the vendor and promptly dribbled lemon juice all over my jacket, ruining my attempts to appear chic. But I was hooked.
I first learned how to make them in Scotland, in the teaching kitchen of Lady Claire Macdonald, whose husband is the chief of my grandmother’s Clan Donald. Lady Claire is the doyenne of Scottish cookery, with more than a dozen books to her credit, and an amazing demonstration kitchen on the grounds of Kinloch Lodge, and ancestral hunting lodge turned inn on the Isle of Skye.
To my Uruguayan husband, they’re pancakes. Whatever you call them, they’re delicious. And perfect for a time when most of the U.S. is hunkering down for a blizzard, staying out of the way of those intrepid plow guys.
Here I’ve filled them with dulce de leche, that sweet spread you can buy at many markets or make yourself with guidance from Lebovitz or Alton Brown. You can use Nutella, peanut butter and banana, chestnut ice cream (or any flavor). Jam. You get the idea.
Savory too, but not today.
To make them with panache, all you need is melted butter and the courage of your convictions. Brush melted butter all over your crepe pan or skillet, then ladle the batter all at once close to the edge of your pan and then tilt aggressively until the batter covers the entire bottom of the pan. Pour it into the center and you’ll run out of batter before the pan is covered, then you’ll need more batter and your crepe with be too thick, rather than lacy and delicate.
Like everything, it requires a little practice, making it the perfect snow day project. Line up all your toppings and decide your favorite.
Classic crepes with dulce de leche
Makes about eight
2 large eggs
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon brandy or your favorite flavored liqueur (optional)
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter, melted, plus additional 3 tablespoons or so for cooking
1 cup dulce de leche, or filling of choice, for serving
Pour eggs, milk and brandy into a blender and whoosh until mixed, about 10 seconds. Add flour, sugar and salt and puree until combined, about 30 seconds. Scrape the sides to be sure all the flour gets into the mixture. Add butter and pulse once or twice to blend. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or overnight, to let the flour hydrate and starches develop in the batter.
Before making crepes, puree again to refresh the batter. If you don’t have a blender, whisk everything together, rest in the refrigerator, then strain through a sieve just before making crepes to eliminate any lumps.
Preheat an 8-inch skillet or crepe pan over medium heat. Brush with melted butter. Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup or 2-ounce ladle, spoon batter onto side of the pan, then tilt until the batter covers the pan. Cook until crepe looks slightly dry and bubbles form, about two minutes. Flip with your hands or a rubber spatula and cook another minute until the second side is golden. Stack them up or fill as you go.
To serve, place the crepe first side down. The first side is the “good” side of the crepe – the filling goes on the second side. Spread two tablespoons of dulce de leche or filling of your choice onto one half of the crepe. Fold in half, then in half again to form something of a triangle with a rounded edge. Press gently to move the filling to the edge. Serve warm.