The sweetest mistake.

Today I discovered the sweetest mistake. Crêpe Suzette.The dish was created out of a mistake made by a fourteen year-old assistant waiter Henri Carpentier (1880-1961) in 1895 at the Maitre at Monte Carlo’s Cafde Paris.  He was preparing a dessert for the Prince of Wales, the future King Edward VII (1841-1910) of England.

According to Henri Charpentier, in own words from Life A La Henri – Being The Memories of Henri Charpentier:

It was quite by accident as I worked in front of a chafing dish that the cordials caught fire.  I thought I was ruined.  The Prince and his friends were waiting.  How could I begin all over?  I tasted it.  It was, I thought, the most delicious melody of sweet flavors I had every tasted.  I still think so.  That accident of the flame was precisely what was needed to bring all those various instruments into one harmony of taste…He ate the pancakes with a fork; but he used a spoon to capture the remaining syrup.  He asked me the name of that which he had eaten with so much relish.  I told him it was to be called Crepes Princesse.  He recognized that the pancake controlled the gender and that this was a compliment designed for him; but he protested with mock ferocity that there was a lady present.  She was alert and rose to her feet and holding her little shirt wide with her hands she made him a curtsey.  ‘Will you,’ said His Majesty, ‘change Crepes Princesse to Crepes Suzette?’ Thus was born and baptized this confection, one taste of which, I really believe, would reform a cannibal into a civilized gentleman.  The next day I received a present from the Prince, a jeweled ring, a panama hat and a cane.

Source:  Life A La Henri – Being The Memories of Henri Charpentier, by Henri Charpentier and Boyden Sparkes, The Modern Library, New York, 2001 Paperback Edition.  Originally published in 1934 by Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Do you want to repeat this mistake? Almost the same mistake since there are no flames on this version. For making the crepes you will need the following:

  • pinch of sugar
  • 125 g all-purpose flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 egg
  • 270 ml milk
  • vegetable oil, for pan

Using a food processor, blend the eggs, flour, milk, salt, and sugar until it will pour back silently and smoothly from a foot or more above the mixing bowl.  Place the crepe batter, covered, in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. This will allow to the bubbles to subside so the crepes will be less likely to tear during cooking. Heat a pan with 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Once the pan is well-heated, pour in enough batter, approximately 3 to 4 tablespoons of batter, to cover the bottom of the pan. Tip the pan from side to side to spread the batter thinly, and keep it moving. After one minute, turn the crepe upside down, then turn it again, until it is nicely browned. Fold the crepe in half, and fold again to form a triangle. As the crepes are finished, stack them one upon the other. Proceed to make the remaining crepes, adding butter to the pan only if the crepes begins to stick.

For the sauce you will need:

  • zest of 1 orange
  • juice of 2 oranges
  • 175 gr of butter
  • 175 gr of sugar
  • 2 star anises
  • 80 ml of cointreau or triple sec
  • orange segments for serving

For making the sauce start with heating the butter and sugar in a deep frying pan over a low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar begins to dissolve; turn up the heat and bubble quite fast, until the mixture just starts to go brown and caramelise (about 4 minutes), stirring only towards the end. Pour in the orange juice; add the orange zest (you can also add lemon zest) and star anises, letting the mixture bubble for 3-4 minutes to thicken slightly. Add the cointreau, heat for a few seconds and lower the heat.

Put one crêpe into the juices and, holding it with a fork, coat it well in the mixture. Continue the coating and folding with the remaining crepes. Serve 2-3 crêpes per person with the sauce and some orange segments. Your crêpes Suzette are ready.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

After serving them to your guest do not expect to receive a jeweled ring, a panama hat and a cane. I didn’t get any.

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A highly motivated postgraduate with an MSc in Energy Systems and a BA in Economics, trying to find time for cooking!

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