After three days of cooking, feasting and chilling I could easily continue this life: just sitting under our Christmas tree, listening to Christmas carols, baking more cookies once in a while and pulling a roast duck or wild boar stew out of my oven. I know some people are happy when the craziness is over but I’m not one of them. I indulge in this tradition and I never want to let go of it again. Luckily, the next event is right ahead and with it, a few choices to be made. Apart from the main course, which we haven’t really decided yet but it looks like it’s going to be seafood, there’s another important dish waiting to be put on the menu: our dessert.
One of my all time favourites is Tiramisu, I simply love it! It offers sponge soaked with coffee and brandy, creamy mascarpone and a hint of chocolate – it’s perfect. Lemon Meringue Pie is another promising candidate, packed with citrus juices on a buttery short crust base – delicious! Affogato would be the quickest and easiest solution, a spoonful of vanilla ice cream dropped into hot espresso. A Tarte Tatin, made with pear and star anise instead of apples, is quite a stunner. Although we already have a lemon dessert in this list, I can’t stop myself from adding another one, Maltese Ricotta Pie with Lemon Syrup and Pistachios, a recipe by my friend Essa. It’s so unbelievably scrumptious that I dreamt of it after I tried it the first time. I made it twice this summer while I was in Malta, it’s just too good. I could also make my bittersweet Chocolate Tart with Whipped Cardamom Cream – just leave the cherries out or add a few orange slices instead. Before I include all the cakes and desserts I ever shared on eat in my kitchen, I’ll stop for now and tell you what we will have: Crêpes Suzette! A bottle of Grand Marnier caught my attention and sparked the idea to stick to this sweet French classic to end this exciting year. I tested my recipe to avoid disappointment on this special night but it wasn’t even necessary: The thin crêpes were golden and soft, the syrupy sauce full of orange flavour enhanced by a tasty amount of butter. And it’s also quite spectacular as you can flambée it. We ate it straight out of the pan and wondered why we don’t make this sweet dish more often. (That will change from now on!)
For 4 people (makes 8-10 crêpes)
For the crêpes
plain flour, sifted, 130g / 1 cup
granulated sugar 25g / 2 tablespoons
salt 1/8 teaspoon
organic eggs 2
milk 240ml / 1 cup
butter, to bake the crêpes
For the orange sauce
organic orange, rinsed, 1
granulated sugar 60g / 1/3 cup
freshly squeezed orange juice 120ml / 1/2 cup
Grand Marnier 60ml / 1/4 cup
butter 60g / 1/4 cup
vodka or brandy, to flambée the crêpes (optional)
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, whisk together the ingredients for the crêpes and mix until smooth. Let the batter sit for about 10 minutes.
In a large, heavy or non-stick pan, melt half a teaspoon of butter on medium-high heat. Pour in a ladle of the dough, holding the pan in your hand and turning it so that the dough spreads evenly and very thinly. The crêpes won’t need more than 30-60 seconds on each side once the heat is set right. When the crêpe is slightly golden on both sides, transfer to a plate, fold it in half twice so that it forms a triangle and set aside. Continue with the remaining batter until you have 8-10 crêpes. You should always melt 1/2 -1 teaspoon of butter in the pan before you bake the next crêpe.
Grate the orange and set the zest aside. To cut the orange into segments, cut off the white pith. Hold the orange in 1 hand and use a small, sharp knife to cut between the membranes and release the segments, set them aside.
For the orange sauce, melt the sugar in a large, deep, heavy pan over high heat. When the sugar is golden brown and caramelized, slowly add the orange juice, Grand Marnier, and 3/4 of the orange zest and turn down the heat to medium-low. Stir and let the caramel melt completely, this will take a couple minutes, then add the butter and let it melt. When the butter is melted, bring to the boil then take off the heat immediately. Add one crêpe after the other to the pan, turning it in the juices and stack them on one side of the pan. Once all the crêpes are in the pan, spread them evenly, garnish with the orange slices and sprinkle with the remaining orange zest.
Optional: Add a generous splash of vodka or brandy to a small saucepan, light it up in the pan and pour it slowly over the hot crêpes, serve immediately.