Crepes Suzette was all the rage on late-nineteenth-century menus. It is said that it was invented in 1895 by Henri Charpentier when, as a young chef in Monte Carlo, he had inadvertently ignited the crepe sauce he was preparing tableside for the Prince of Wales. The resulting dessert caused such a sensation that the prince requested it be named after one of the female guests, Princess Suzanne. Although Charpentier recounted the event in his book, Life a la Henri — Being the Memories of Henri Charpentier, there is some dispute about its veracity. Apparently these delicious crepes were on menus in Paris prior to 1895. They certainly made their way to turn-of-the-century American menus around the same time. Henri Charpentier did come to America, where, among other jobs, he served as private chef to John Rockefeller.
You will need both a 7 1/2-inch crepe pan and a chafing dish to properly prepare this dessert in the classic manner.–Judith Choate and James Canora
Crepes Suzette Recipe
Hands-On Time: | Total Time: | Serves 6
- For the sweet crepes
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
- 4 teaspoons sugar
- Pinch salt
- 3 large eggs
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1 tablespoon cognac
- 3 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup clarified butter
- For the Suzettes
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup fresh orange juice, strained
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 6 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons Triple Sec
- 2 tablespoons cognac
- Sweet crepes
- 1/2 cup Grand Marnier or other orange-flavored liqueur
- 18 pieces candied orange peel
- 6 sprigs mint
- Make the sweet crepes
- 1. Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a mixing bowl.
- 2. Combine the eggs, milk, cognac, and melted butter in a blender jar, processing to blend. Add the flour mixture and process to make a thin batter.
- 3. Pour the batter into a clean container, cover, and refrigerate for up to 30 minutes or as long as 2 days.
- 4. When ready to make crepes, return the batter to room temperature. Transfer it to a pitcher or measuring cup with a pour spout. Set aside.
- 5. Cut twelve 8-inch square pieces of waxed paper or plastic film. Place one piece on a plate and set the plate and the remaining pieces of paper or film alongside. Heat a nonstick crepe pan over medium heat. Using a paper towel, lightly coat it with clarified butter.
- 6. Stir the batter and then pour about 2 tablespoons into the hot pan. Immediately lift the pan off the heat and swirl and rotate it to evenly coat the bottom with a thin layer of batter. Return the pan to the heat and cook for about 45 seconds or until the top is set and the bottom is golden brown.
- 7. Using your fingers to pry an edge loose, carefully lift and turn the crepe to cook the remaining side. Cook for about 1 minute, or until lightly browned. Place the first crepe on the paper- or film-lined plate. Cover with another piece of paper or film. Continue buttering the pan and making and stacking crepes until you have 12.
- 8. If the crepes are not used immediately, they can be kept stacked, separated by waxed paper or plastic film, wrapped tightly, in the refrigerator for up to 1 day or the freezer for up to 1 month.
- Make the Suzettes
- 9. Heat the butter in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the orange and lemon juices. Stir in the sugar and, stirring constantly, bring to a simmer. Cook for about 3 minutes, or until the mixture has thickened slightly. Add the Triple Sec and cognac and simmer for another minute.
- 10. Place one of the crepes into the sauce. As it absorbs a bit of the liquid, carefully fold it in half and then fold the half into a triangle shape. Continue this process until all the crepes are in the sauce.
- 11. Take the entire pan to the table. Pour the Grand Marnier over the crepes and, holding the pan away from your face and your guests and using a fireplace match, carefully ignite the liqueur. Let the flames die out.
- 12. Using tongs, carefully place 2 crepes on each of 6 dessert plates. Spoon sauce over the top and garnish with a bit of candied orange peel and a sprig of mint.
Crepes Suzette Recipe © 2008 Judith Choate and James Canora. Photo © 2008 Steve Pool. All rights reserved.