As someone who has never had a sweet tooth, I consider fresh fruits to be the best desserts of all time. Think along the lines of fresh Hawaiian papayas, pineapples, and mangosteens. I’ll take any of those over a slice of chocolate cake any day!
However, I do have an appreciation for fresh well-made artisan desserts. I can name the top three desserts I’ve ever eaten in my life: 1) ile flottante, aka floating island, 2) fresh Italian gelato, and 3) fresh French crepes with salted caramel sauce. I’ll address number 3 today because I’m always craving a crepe, whether it’s savory or sweet. Something about crepes really makes me feel warm and cozy. One of simplest desserts you can whip up is a basic crepe with a simple fresh strawberry sauce on the side. It’s really the best of both worlds for me. Let’s not forget that it’s oh-so inexpensive to make, too! Perfect for the college budget.
While crepe recipes may vary, the most basic and foolproof recipe is the one I’ve adapted from America’s Test Kitchen. It’s really no muss no fuss. If you’ve got 25 minutes, you’ve got time to make a dozen crepes. Grab a jar of Nutella and call it a night. Don’t forget to whip up vegan coconut whipped cream!
Here’s what you need:
Only 6 ingredients for perfect crepes: unbleached all-purpose flour, whole milk (low fat is possible, but why?!), 3 eggs, melted unsalted butter, sugar, and salt. Also, just a tad bit of vegetable oil for greasing the pan.
Grab a non-stick pan (about 9 to 12 inches in diameter) and heat it over medium heat for at least 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, and salt.
In a liquid measuring cup, measure out whole milk and add in 3 beaten eggs. Whisk together until the milk and eggs are thoroughly combined.
Pour half of the milk/egg mixture into the flour mix and whisk until smooth.
Add the melted butter and whisk away. These steps are important. Don’t try to pour the melted butter into the cold milk/egg mixture. Your melted butter will re-solidify!
Pour in the remaining half of the milk/egg mixture and whisk until no clumps remain.
The consistency will be like heavy whipping cream, if only a tiny bit thinner. This will make about 12-15 crepes if you’re using a 9-inch skillet.
So into that hot pan on medium heat, add 1/2 teaspoon of vegetable oil and use a clean paper towel to wipe the excess away.
I like to add a tiny dab of butter, too, for extra flavor and a little more guarantee of non-stickage.
Before we go any further, let’s acknowledge that everybody’s stove tops are different. Some are electric, some are gas. Things will vary. To test the readiness of your skillet, pour in a tablespoon of crepe batter in the center of the pan. When you flip it over with a rubber spatula, it should be golden brown on the first side. Once flipped, the second side will only take about 25 seconds to finish up.
In general, you will make a few ugly crepes before you perfect this process and get accustomed to the heat of your stove and skillet.
Once your pan is properly heated, grab a 1/4-cup measuring cup. Each crepe will only use that much batter. Pour the crepe batter in the center of the pan….
….and tilt and shake that bad boy until the batter coats the pan in an even circle.
Tilt and twirl if you must.
That’s a pretty darn perfect circle.
Here’s a test run with my first crepe. Lift up the crepe lightly with a rubber spatula.
Very gently grab the crepe edge with your fingers. And flip it over on the other side. This one was much too light, it definitely needed more time. The pan wasn’t hot enough.
Ugly crepe. Let’s try again.
After a few more tries with a pan that has heated up a little bit longer, here’s what the first side looks like. That was after about 30-45 seconds.
Beautifully golden brown. You will know it’s time to flip your crepe over when the edges of the crepe start to get lightly golden.
Here’s what the second side of the crepe looks like: you’ll get little brown bubbles like this. It should only take about 25 seconds to get that kind of color in a properly heated pan.
Keep repeating this process! You also shouldn’t have to add additional butter or vegetable oil. The pan should be greased well enough after making several crepes.
When you finish your crepes, slide them onto a clean cooling rack. Keep piling them on until you finish the batter.
As you can see from this gradient of cooked crepes, the left is lighter in color and undoubtedly lighter in flavor than the rightmost crepe. Patience is a virtue. Cook your crepes until they’re golden brown. Never settle for undercooked crepes. You deserve better.
Yes… now that’s perfection you can gobble on.
Pretty darn good golden brownness going on here.
Now you go and eat your crepes with whatever you want. Nutella, bananas, strawberries, and whipped cream. Or, my favorite: salted caramel sauce from Brittany, France. Today, I’m making a simple strawberry sauce.
To make enough strawberry sauce for about 3 people, chop up about 6-8 strawberries. We’re going to coat the strawberries in about 2 teaspoons of granulated sugar. Adjust for more strawberries and sugar if you’re making more sauce. Let the strawberries macerate — that’s a fancy word for letting the berries chill out, relax, and soak in its own berry-liciousness. Let them chill for about 20 minutes.
You can use a fork and mash the berries for a thick chunky sauce. I prefer a thinner sauce with some berry pieces. Grab a blender or a mini food processor if you want to do what I do. Pulse a few times until the berry sauce is the consistency of your liking.
This stuff is pretty much amazing over anything. Try ice cream, cream puffs, chocolate souffles, or French toast!
When preparing and serving, you just need to stack all the cooled crepes on a plate and microwave for about 30-45 seconds. Trust me — crepes taste better when they’re warm. Here’s a single warmed up crepe. I’m gonna schmear some coconut whipped cream all over.
No need to be neat. It’ll all taste delicious no matter how badly you mess up. Replace this with nutella if you wish.
Place some sliced strawberries in the middle.
Fold in the two sides.
Just. like. that.
Ladle on spoon on some strawberry sauce.
Basic Crepes Recipe
Total time: 25 minutes
Prep: 10 min
Cook: 15 min
Yield: 10-15 crepes
½ teaspoon vegetable oil
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups whole milk (or reduced fat)
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Additional fillings: Nutella, whipped cream, chopped strawberries, bananas, ice cream, caramel, etc.
(strawberry sauce recipe below)
Place oil in a 9- or 12-inch non-stick skillet and heat over medium-low heat for at least 10 minutes.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt. In a large liquid measuring cup, whisk together milk and eggs until smooth. Add half of milk/egg mixture in dry ingredients and whisk until smooth. Add melted butter to batter mix and whisk until combined. Whisk in remaining milk/egg mixture until smooth.
Using a paper towel, wipe heated oil around skillet to coat entire pan. Optional: Add ½ teaspoon of butter into pan for additional flavor and grease. To test heat of skillet, place 1 tablespoon of batter in center of pan and cook for about 30 seconds. If crepe is golden brown on bottom, skillet is properly heated. Adjust heat if mini crepe is too light or dark.
Use a ¼-cup measurement for a single crepe size. Pour batter in center of pan and tilt and shake quickly and gently until batter covers bottom of pan in an even circle. Cook crepe until top surface is dry and crepe starts to lightly brown at edges, about 30 to 40 seconds. Gently slide a rubber spatula underneath edge of crepe and grab edge with your fingers to quickly flip the entire crepe over. Cook until the second side of crepe has light brown spots, about 25 seconds. Transfer cooked crepes to wire rack. Repeat until batter is finished.
Stack crepes on a microwave-safe plate and microwave on high until crepes are warm, about 45 seconds. To serve, sprinkle each crepe with 1 teaspoon of sugar and fold in the two sides. Or, fold crepe into quarters for a triangle shape. Squeeze fresh lemon juice over sugared crepes, if desired. Other filling ideas: strawberries and whipped cream, Nutella, bananas, etc. Serve immediately.
Simple Fresh Strawberry Sauce Recipe
5-8 large strawberries, chopped
2-3 teaspoons granulated sugar
In a small bowl, add chopped strawberries and coat with granulated sugar. Allow strawberries to rest for about 20 minutes until sugar is dissolved and incorporated into strawberry juices. Mash strawberries with a fork for a chunky sauce. Or, use a blender or small food processor to blend strawberry sauce to a consistency of your liking. Serve immediately with crepes.