Saturday, January 21, 2012

Chocolate Crepes with Cream Cheese and Stewed Apricots

This is just something I threw together this morning with staple fridge and pantry items.  If you don't have carb issues, you can use sugar or honey instead of the Splenda, or may use apricots in heavy syrup. With my 10 inch crepe pan, this makes about 8-10 crepes, but different size pans will produce different numbers.

Timing is everything when making crepes. The batter should be made at least 5 minutes, or up to 2 hours before you start cooking the crepes to let flour particles absorb liquids. This is the time to make your filling. Once you start cooking the crepes, each one will take less than a minute, so you won't have time to do more than give your filling a stir.

I use a blender and a good French copper crepe pan, but you could improvise if you don't have these. However, whatever pan you use to cook the crepes should have sloping sides to make turning and removing the crepes easier.

Crepe Batter
3 large eggs
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 large pinch ground nutmeg
1 pinch salt
2 Tbsp melted butter
1 Tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

Combine all ingredients in blender and blend for 15-20 seconds. Scrape sides if necessary and blend to combine thoroughly. Set aside for 5-10 minutes while you make your filling.

Stewed Apricot Filling
1 can unsweetened apricot halves in juice, reserving one TBSP juice
3 Tablespoons Splenda

Open can of apricots and cut each apricot half into slices, approximately 5-6 per half. Put apricots, juice, and Splenda into small saucepan over medium-low heat. Your goal here is to heat, not cook, although it won't hurt if this comes to a boil. Just be sure not to burn it!

Cream Cheese
I like plain bricks of old-fashioned cream cheese, because I find the texture more predictable than the whipped or spreadable varieties, but suit yourself here.

In a small bowl, beat 4 oz cream cheese and the Tbsp reserved apricot juice together to blend. Set aside.

Cooking the Crepes

Note: Cooking each crepe takes less than a minute, so the following steps happen fast. Have all your tools at hand and don't turn your back, or your crepes will be tough.
Another Note:  It's really easier to turn the crepes with your fingers. They're less likely to be torn this way, but you'll need to move fast.

Heat crepe pan over medium high heat until a few drops of water sprinkled on the cooking surface skitter across the pan an evaporate almost immediately. Put a tiny pat of butter in the pan and use a paper towel to wipe out excess. Save the paper towel to wipe out the pan if crepes start to stick or if crumbs are left behind when you turn or remove a crepe. It is very important that the pan be crumb-free before pouring batter for another crepe.

Pulse the blender for 3-5 seconds to re-stir batter. Pour enough batter to coat pan bottom (about 2 Tbsps for my pan), swirling quickly to distribute thinly over entire bottom. If a bit of batter goes up the pan sides, it's fine. Cook until the batter is no longer wet, about 20-30 seconds. During this time, loosen the edges all around with a silicon spatula. Turn and cook other side for 5-10 seconds. Remove from pan. Stack crepes as they are completed. I usually pulse the blender every two crepes to make sure the batter stays stirred, but your own experience will guide you here.

Personally, I prefer to fold crepes and eat them with a knife and fork. This is especially true when, as in this case, the filling is very juicy and there is a syrup to drizzle on top. Here's how:

Think of each crepe as a clock face. Between 12:00 and 3:00, place a slightly rounded teaspoon of cream cheese. Between 3:00 and 6:00 place 3-4 slices of apricot. Now, fold the half of the crepe from 6:00-12:00 over the 12:00-6:00 side. Fold again into quarters, so that the 12:00-3:00 cream cheese quarter is on top. Place onto a plate. Drizzle a bit of the juice from the apricot over the crepe. Enjoy.

A final note: The variety of fillings for crepes is limited only by your imagination. This recipe is a one I just came up with this morning because I was hungry, and last night's ice storm made heading out to the store unappealing, if not impossible. Use whatever you have on hand and let me know what you come up with!

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