Wonderful desserts can be made with crêpes; their greatest pitfalls derive, no doubt, from their versatility—not in itself a fault, but a quality that teases many a cook into overstepping the boundaries of sense and taste. One should never lose sight of the fragile and delicate, thin, tender thing that is the crêpe itself. How, transformed into a dribbling, spongy sop for a complicated cocktail of alcohols, can the little crêpe be good?
A good preparation is that of crêpes lightly spread with a sugar and butter pommade into which has been incorporated either a fruit juice or purée and a small amount of a liqueur or brandy whose flavor is particularly compatible with that of the chosen fruit (pineapple-Kirsch, banana-rum, hazelnut-Cognac, and tangerine-Curaçao are classic examples; the chosen liqueur or brandy replaces the Cognac in the preparation of the crêpes also). The crêpes are folded in four and reheated (arranged slightly overlapping in a buttered gratin dish, brushed with butter, sprinkled lightly with sugar and a few drops of the same liqueur as that of the pommade, and put for a few minutes in a very hot oven). Crêpes Suzette (although more incendiary crimes have been committed in Suzette’s name than in any other) are a case in point (tangerine juice is used, in part, for moistening the crêpe batter, Curaçao replaces the Cognac, and the pommade is flavored with tangerine juice and Curaçao). The following recipe is in a similar spirit; the herbal aura is quite unusual, thyme lending support to the famous secret formula, and, to me, it is particularly attractive in a dessert; a fine Sauternes, well chilled, marries excitingly with it.
Apart from the color, green Chartreuse varies from yellow Chartreuse in that it is less sweet and it contains a higher concentration of herbal infusion and a higher degree of alcohol; for all those reasons, I prefer it to the yellow. Whether green or yellow, the aged product labeled “VEP” is much more interesting.
The fig-cooking juices should be reduced to a fairly thick syrup; stir in
Cut the figs in two, removing the tips of the stem ends if they are tough. Roll two or three fig halves into each crêpe, first dribbling over a few drops of Chartreuse, and arrange the crêpes, flap side down, side by side in a buttered gratin dish. Spoon over the syrup—there should be no more than enough to just coat the crêpes. Sprinkle lightly with sugar, place a thin strip of butter on each crêpe, and heat in a 500° oven for about 10 minutes. Serve on heated plates.
Copyright © 1974 by Richard Olney. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.