One of the most memorable desserts I ever tastedwas a citrus souffle crepe prepared by Chef Fernand Chambrette 30 yearsago at La Varenne Cooking School in Paris.
Thiswas a new creation to all of us who were watching, and the result - agolden crepe with a light, puffy filling - was as dramatic as it wasdelicious. The chef served the crepes with a fresh raspberry saucewhich he spooned around the delicate dessert.
At the time one of my favorite restaurants in Paris was LeGrand Vefour. The restaurant's chef, Raymond Oliver, was famous for hissouffles. His instructions for making souffle crepes call for fillingthe thin pancakes with a mixture of vanilla pastry cream lightened withwhipped egg whites, and baking them. Pastry cream is a professionalterm for the souffle base, a flour-thickened custard.
French culinary historians consider light-textured soufflecrepes part of the innovative trend known as "la nouvelle patisserie,"which has since been imitated around the world.
When I became a cooking teacher, I taught classes on new-style French desserts, and my orange souffle crepes were very popular.
In Great Britain, French-born chef restaurateur Raymond Blanc, author of Recipes from Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons,decided to combine the formula for the crepe souffle with thetraditional crepes Suzette, which is made of unfilled crepes heated insweetened, orange-flavored butter. He called his new dessert GrandMarnier crepe souffle in the Suzette style. To make it, he topped eachcrepe with caramel-flavored orange butter sauce and homemade candiedorange zest, and then, instead of filling the crepes, covered them withorange liqueur-flavored souffles separately baked in small skillets.
Youcan accent the souffle filling with any sweet flavoring, includingchocolate and coffee. Many cooks prefer to stick to liqueur, vanilla orcitrus because a golden-hued puffed souffle is so appealing. You canserve the crepes with a fruit sauce or simply shake powdered sugar overthem at serving time.
Souffle crepes might seem like an elaborate dessert reservedfor great French chefs but although they require several steps, noneare more complicated than making blintzes or light cakes. You can domuch of the preparation in advance, and making souffle crepes will be apleasant and delicious weekend project.
ORANGE SOUFFLE CREPES
When you fill the crepes, you don't roll them like a blintz, asthe souffle mixture would be squashed and would not rise as well.Instead you simply spoon some souffle mixture over half of the crepeand fold the other half loosely over the top, leaving one side open sothe souffle has plenty of room to puff.
You can keep the unfilled crepes in the refrigerator up to 3days; or you can freeze them, alternating each one with a piece of waxpaper or parchment paper so they don't stick to each other.
If you like, serve the crepes with berry sauce (see recipe below) or shake powdered sugar over them at serving time.
Makes 4 servings
4 3⁄4 cup all-purpose flour
4 Pinch of salt
4 3⁄4 cup milk
4 2 eggs
4 Grated rind of 1⁄2 orange (optional)
4 2 Tbsp. melted butter
4 About 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil (for frying)
4 Orange souffle filling (see next recipe)
Sift the flour into a bowl and make a well in the center. Addthe salt and 1⁄2 cup milk. Gradually whisk in the flour to make asmooth batter. Whisk in the eggs one by one. At this point, if thebatter is not smooth, strain it. Grate the orange zest into the batter.Whisk in the melted butter. Cover and let stand 1 hour or up to 24hours in the refrigerator.
Just before frying the crepes, add enough of the remaining milkto the batter so that it has the consistency of heavy cream. Brush acrepe pan or a 23- to 25-cm frying pan with oil. Heat until very hot -a drop of batter added to the pan should sizzle immediately. Add about3 tablespoons batter to the pan, turning it quickly to coat the bottom.Cook over medium-high heat until lightly browned. Turn over and cookbriefly to brown the other side. Continue making crepes from theremaining batter; stir the batter before preparing each one, and addanother tablespoon of milk if necessary.
Oil the pan only if the crepes begin to stick. Pile the crepes to keep them moist and warm.
Prepare the orange souffle filling in the recipe below, following the first paragraph.
A short time before serving, preheat the oven to 200ºC andbutter a heatproof platter or shallow baking dish. Then finishpreparing the filling, following the second paragraph.
Spoon 2 or 3 tablespoons of the mixture onto the lessattractive side of each crepe. Fold the crepe very lightly in half andarrange in one layer on the platter or baking dish. Bake about 10minutes or until the filling puffs. Serve immediately.
ORANGE SOUFFLE FILLING
To make this filling parve, use soy milk or rice milk. Insteadof making your own crepes, you can use purchased crepe or blintzwrappers. You can also bake the souffle mixture in individual butteredramekins - fill them by about three quarters.
Makes enough for 4 servings
4 1 cup milk
4 3 egg yolks
4 5 Tbsp. sugar
4 4 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
4 1⁄4 cup orange juice
4 Zest of 1 orange
4 4 egg whites
First make the orange pastry cream: bring all but 2 tablespoonsof the milk to a boil in a small, heavy-based saucepan. In a mediumbowl, whisk the yolks lightly. Add 4 tablespoons sugar and 2tablespoons milk and whisk until thick and smooth. Stir in the flourwith the whisk. Gradually whisk in half the hot milk.
Return the mixture to the pan, whisking. Cook over low heat,whisking, until the mixture just comes to a boil. Remove from the heatand whisk in the orange juice.
Grate in the orange zest and whisk again. If not usingimmediately, dab the pastry cream with a small piece of butter toprevent a skin from forming. Let cool completely and keep in therefrigerator.
Transfer the pastry cream to a saucepan and whisk until smooth.Heat over low heat, whisking, until just hot to the touch. Remove fromthe heat.
Just before filling the crepes, beat the eggwhites until stiff. Add the remaining tablespoon sugar and beat another30 seconds until shiny. Fold one quarter of the whites into the pastrycream mixture, then gently fold this mixture into the remaining eggwhites.
Use immediately to fill the crepes.
Make this sauce from frozen raspberries or strawberries. Ifusing strawberries, you don't have to strain the sauce unless you wantit silky smooth.
Makes about about 4 servings (1 cup)
4 3 cups (about 350 gr.) fresh or frozen raspberries or strawberries, thawed
4 About 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 cup powdered sugar, sifted
4 About 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice (optional)
Puree berries in a food processor or blender. Add 1⁄2 cuppowdered sugar; for raspberries, you may need more. Process until verysmooth. Taste and add another tablespoon or two of powdered sugar ifdesired.
If using raspberries, spoon part of sauce into a strainer.Strain sauce into a bowl, pressing on pulp in strainer. Use rubberspatula to scrape mixture from underside of strainer. Continuestraining remaining sauce.
Stir sauce before serving and add lemon juice to taste. Serve cold or at room temperature.
Faye Levy is the author of Fresh from France: Dessert Sensations and, in Hebrew, of Sefer Hakinuhim (The Book of Desserts).