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Crepes 101
how to cook perfect crepes |
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Someday I’ll visit Paris when I’m not poor and painfully conscious of how few francs I have floating around in my pockets. But it hasn’t happened yet. Some folks do Paris and come home bearing mental souvenirs of caneton a l’orange and coquilles St. Jacques, escargots and foie gras, but for me, Paris is about cheap eats snagged from bakeries and markets and little street carts. It’s about baguettes and brie and best of all, crepes.

Crepes look like ultra-thin pancakes which may explain why they’re most frequently found on fancy breakfast menus here in the U.S. They’re terrific for a lazy Sunday morning of course, but their potential extends far beyond syrup and fruit toppings. Rubbed in lemon or butter and a generous sprinkling of sugar, crepes make a scrumptious simple snack; filled with meats or seafood, cheese or sautéed veggies, they provide a very filling lunch or dinner. You can dress up just about any leftover by rolling it up in some crepes, or make an easy, elegant dessert by topping crepes with ice cream and melted chocolate. Crepes are super versatile and almost as easy to make as regular old pancakes.

Batter up | Traditional crepes are made with real butter and whole milk, and all that calorie-laden fat is, unfortunately, a large factor in why they’re so yummy. You can substitute the butter with canola oil and the whole milk with skim, and the flavor will be fine, but it won’t be as spectacular as if you just resign yourself to the fat and indulge. In its most basic incarnation, crepe batter consists of just flour, butter, milk and eggs, but you can also flavor the batter by substituting half the milk with beer, or adding a tablespoon or two of cognac, Grand Marnier, vanilla extract, cocoa powder or whatever other flavoring suits your fancy. Basic crepes
3 large eggs
1 cup flour 
1 cup milk
2 T. butter,
melted and cooled
2 T. sugar
(omit for savory crepes)

Place all ingredients in a blender and zizz for 2 minutes or so until well combined.

The easiest way to make crepe batter is using a blender, although an electric mixer or a good old fashioned whisk will do just fine as well. After you’ve mixed up the ingredients to get a nice batter, you’ll ideally want to let the mixture sit in the fridge for at least an hour, and up to a day. The rest period allows the gluten in the flour to relax, resulting in a smoother batter that’ll be easier to work with when it comes time to cook. It also gives the flour time to absorb the liquid and collapse all those air bubbles. You can skip the rest period if you’re short on time, but the crepes might not be quite the right texture. (They’ll still be tasty though). The finished batter should have a thickly liquid consistency, like heavy whipping cream.

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