Crepes were always a rare but special treat for me as a kid. When we’d go on family vacations, there would be a few places that we absolutely had to go to for breakfast so we could have crepes. As simple as they are, something about them is just always a delight, and so for breakfast (or a dessert), today we have nutella and fruit (strawberry and banana) filled crêpes.
Given how special crepes were to me as a kid, when I was much younger, my brother and I had tried to make crepes for my mother on Mother’s Day (fancy schmancy breakfast in bed–what more could you ask for? ). Of course, having no real knowledge of cooking and a box of pancake mix did not spell success–along with the fact that we didn’t notice that the box was about two years past expiration. To make a long story short, those crepes were henceforth known as “craps,” and it has been one of those items that I never tried again, just having this latent, back of my mind anxiety that crepes are hard.
Recently, the Mulligan pantry was bestowed with a lot of nutella, and its a rare thing that my wife specifically requests that I cook something, let alone something I haven’t cooked before. So with nutella in hand, she asked that I make crepes. The gift of crepes again, but armed with a bit more knowledge, well, the stakes were high! I couldn’t take another batch of craps!
Well it turns out, crepes aren’t hard and they’re just as much of a delight to have as ever! You don’t need any special crepe pan or machine to do it–a small/medium sized skillet will do just fine (e.g. ~7 inch nonstick skillet is what I used). With a little patience and a few minor points about technique, these are pretty easy to make, incredibly tasty, and a great dish to wow a crowd if you’re entertaining around breakfast time. Plus, the nice thing about crepes, is that like pancakes, there’s really no limit to what other flavors and fillings you can use.
So with that addictive chocolatey, hazelnutty spread in the mix, things couldn’t go wrong. I chose to add in some diced strawberries as well as diced bananas since both of these fruits go wonderfully with chocolate. The result was a crisp, but delicate, light crepe with a luscious, gooey chocolatey, fruity filling. If you were looking for a way to give yourself diabetes before noon rolls around, this is the way to do it.
This is also my entry in this month’s Sugar High Friday, hosted by Habeas Brulee.
- Crêpe batter
- 2 cups milk
- 1 cup flour
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- Orange zest (I used just a little, not even the zest of a quarter of an orange)
- 4 eggs
- 5 Tbsp melted butter
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 pinch of salt
- 1 jar Nutella
- 2 bananas
- 5 good sized strawberries
- plenty of butter (~1/2 stick for greasing pan between each crepe)
The first step is to make the crepe batter, but this requires a bit more planning than say, rolling out of bed and just making pancakes. A part of what makes crepe batter so delicate is the fact that not only is it fairly wet and creamy, but that it is also given several hours in the fridge to sit, ensuring that the grains of flour, even at the smallest levels, really absorb that moisture and soften up. If the plan for crepes is breakfast, I’d recommend preparing the batter the night before so you can get right to it in the morning. Otherwise, just give yourself at least an hour (preferably more) to let the batter rest before you work with it.
With that word of planning out of the way, making the batter itself is really easy. In a blender or a food processor, mix everything except for the butter and the flour. Then, melt the butter and add that, mixing well, and lastly, add in the flour. Process this batter for a good minute or so to ensure it is totally smooth. Ultimately, it should look kind of like cream and be pretty liquidy. Cover this over and let it rest in the fridge.
So now, fast forward to cooking time. The filling is very simple: peel and halve the bananas, dicing small pieces. Set this aside and also hull and dice the strawberries. Oh, and open the jar of nutella. Easy, right?
Now for some reason, I hadn’t regarded nutella as “real” chocolate (not really sure why…), so when I decided it would be easier to work with while warm, I just put it in a saucepan. I’m well aware that real chocolate requires a double boiler or some other, gentler heat, and the big non-surprise: just like “real” chocolate, nutella will sieze up and get all junky when heated so harshly. Doh! So a little nutella wasted–I didn’t bother warming up the rest, and honestly, it didn’t need any warming. Just thought I’d save any readers from making the same mistake.
So anyways, get the pan you intend to cook with and warm it up to medium/medium-high heat, being sure not to rush it. Give it 5 minutes or so.
Once warmed up, toss in a knob of butter and grease the pan all over. Once the butter has coated everything and has totally melted down, its time for the action. Lift the skillet off of the heat and hold it over your bowl of batter. Scoop in about 1/3 cup of batter, and as soon as it makes contact with the skillet, shake and tilt the skillet so as to form a thin sheet and spread the batter evenly all over the workable surface of the skillet within the first few seconds. The batter will thicken up and begin to cook very quickly, so return this to the heat.
After about 30 seconds on the heat (time flies!), give the skillet a good shake to ensure the crepe is ready–it should be well formed and slip out of place pretty easily. So now, very carefully, flip the crepe over and start cooking the other side. A wide, flexible spatula might make this easy, or, if you can’t seem to pull that off, simply slide the spatula under an edge and fold the crepe gently in half (so the wet part would be “inside” the fold). You should then be able to lift the loosely folded crepe fairly easily with your spatula and unfold it with ease, landing it wet side down into the skillet. If I had a third arm, I would have gotten a photo of this maneuver. Don’t worry if you don’t quite get the first one right (or the second)–just follow it all the way through. The practice will help you get the next ones right. I botched the first two crepes trying to get the temperature of the pan and the handling just right (and the one that required that I stop and take photos. This is where I need a photographer…or a fourth arm?).
Now that you’ve flipped the crepe, you need to keep moving as this is the time to get the filling in place. So carefully, quickly, and gently spread the nutella all over the cooked side of the crepe as thinly as possible while the crepe is still cooking (I was better able to spread it on thinner on my later crepes than the above photo shows). Given that the nutella is somewhat thick, this can also be a slightly tricky maneuver since the crepe is super thin and not done cooking, but its a great way to ensure that the filling warms up nicely and it helps you keep putting out completed crepes fast.
Once done spreading the nutella, form a small pile of diced fruit over 1/4 of the crepe. Then, grab a half of the crepe (that has no fruit piled on it), folding over the crepe. Then, grab the non-fruit filled half of that and fold in half yet again. This will leave you with a fan-like pocket, a 1/4 sized crepe with all of the fruit filling spread on the bottom and nutella everywhere in between. Now get that on a plate and serve immediately–you’ve got more crepes to make! Be sure to wipe any junk (e.g. stray pieces of batter, fruit, etc) out of your pan and melt down a fresh knob of butter between each crepe.
I garnished with a sprinkled of confectionary sugar and walnuts, but there are countless other appropriate sides/garnishes (e.g. fresh fruit, whipped cream, etc). Figure about 2 crepes per person should do just right. Whatever you go with, enjoy!