Recipe: Crêpes Suzette
PUBLISHED: 12:37 09 December 2014 | UPDATED: 17:04 01 September 2015
Treat yourself with Mary Cadogan’s recipe for crêpes Suzette and discover why it is called crêpes Suzette
One of my first memories of eating in a proper grown-up restaurant is of watching fascinated as the waiter at the next table prepared and flambéed crêpes Suzette. It seemed the height of sophistication and elegance at the time, but sadly when I was old and rich enough to order this queen of retro desserts, it had fallen out of favour.
Crêpes Suzette essentially consists of crêpes in an orange sauce made from caramelised sugar, butter and orange juice, flavoured and sometimes flambéed with an orange liqueur such as Grand Marnier, Curaçao or Cointreau. As is often the case, its origins are disputed. One story has it that in 1895, a 14-year-old waiter by the name of Henri Charpentier was preparing a dessert for the Prince of Wales at the Café de Paris in Monte Carlo. As he was about to present the dish of crêpes to the future king, he spilt some orange liqueur and it ignited over the dessert.
The dish was tasted and pronounced delicious by all, including the prince’s dining companion, a woman called Suzette. However, Larousse Gastronomique contests this version and claims that the dish was named after the actress Suzanne Reichenberg, whose stage name was Suzette. Suzette was appearing a play in 1897 in the role of a maid where she had to serve crêpes. These were provided by Monsieur Joseph, from the Marivaux restaurant, in Paris, who thought of flambéeing them to create more excitement. He later went on to work at the Savoy in London, taking his recipe with him. Whatever the origins, this fabulously retro dish deserves to be eaten and enjoyed. It’s a perfect dinner party dessert, as both the crêpes and the sauce can be prepared in advance ready for reheating at the last minute.
For the crêpes:
• 140g plain flour
• 2 eggs
• 200ml milk mixed with 100ml water
• 25g melted butter, plus extra for cooking
For the sauce:
• 4 tbsp caster sugar
• zest of 1 and juice of 3 large oranges
• 2 tbsp Cointreau, or Curaçao, or Grand Marnier, plus 2 tbsp for flaming, optional
• 50g cold butter
• icing sugar, for dusting
1. First, make your crêpes. Sift the flour into a bowl, make a well in the centre and crack in the eggs. Start whisking the eggs, adding a little of the milk mix in a steady stream and drawing the flour into the liquid as you whisk. Whisk the batter until it is smooth and all the flour has been incorporated. Whisk in the melted butter.
2. Heat a 20-22cm frying pan over medium heat. Add a small knob of butter and swirl the pan. Add just enough batter to thinly coat the base of the pan, swirling the pan to coat it evenly. Cook until the underside is golden, about a minute, then flip it over and cook on the other side for about half a minute. Continue until all the batter is used up, adding a little butter each time. You should have about 8 crêpes.
3. To make the sauce, first tip the sugar into a large frying pan with 1 tbsp water. Heat gently, stirring until the sugar has melted, then stop stirring and increase the heat. Boil until it turns a deep caramel colour. Remove from the heat and add the orange zest and juice. Be careful as it will splatter. Add the Cointreau, or Curaçao, or Grand Marnier, and return to the pan over a low heat, stirring until the caramel has re-melted.
4. Cut the butter into small cubes, then add a few at a time to the boiling sauce, stirring until it is smooth, glossy and slightly thickened.
5. Fold the pancakes into quarters, then slide into the pan and warm through. If you plan to flambé the dish, tip the additional liqueur into a small pan and warm through gently. Ignite and pour over the crêpes. When the flames die down, dust with icing sugar and serve as they are or with crème fraîche.