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Brown-Butter Crêpes

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Yields about fourteen 8-inch crêpes

  • by from Fine Cooking
    Issue 116

These crêpes are buttery but mild, an ideal blank canvas, ready to be topped or filled with savory or sweet ingredients. The addition of brown butter gives them a flavor richer than that of the average crêpe.

Video: Julissa Roberts demonstrates Martha Holmberg's method for making supple, buttery crêpes.

  • 3-1/2 oz. (7 Tbs.) unsalted butter; more softened for the pan
  • 1-3/4 cups whole milk; more as needed
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 6-3/4 oz. (1-1/2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
Tip:
As with pancakes, the first crêpe you make is usually a flop, so count on sacrificing it as you experiment with the heat of the burner and the amount of butter in the pan.

In a 1- to 2-quart saucepan, cook the butter over medium heat, swirling it every few seconds, until melted and the milk solids at the bottom of the pan turn golden-brown, 2 to 4 minutes. Immediately pour the brown butter into a small bowl and let cool almost to room temperature.

Combine the milk, eggs, and salt in a blender. Blend for a few seconds to combine. Add the flour and blend until very smooth, about 20 seconds. Add the brown butter and blend for another 10 seconds.

Pour the batter into a large bowl and let rest for at least 5 minutes and up to 24 hours. (If resting for more than 30 minutes, cover and refrigerate.)

When ready to cook the crêpes, check the batter; it should be as thick as heavy cream, not as thick as pancake batter. If it feels too thick, whisk in up to 1/2 cup more milk.

Heat a crêpe pan with an 8-inch base or a 10-inch nonstick skillet with an 8-inch base over medium-high heat until it’s hot enough for a drop of water to sizzle. Using a folded paper towel, grease the pan with about 1/4 tsp. butter. The butter should sizzle upon contact but not instantly turn brown. If it does, reduce the heat as necessary.

Using a ladle or measuring cup, pour 1/4 cup of the batter into the center of the pan while simultaneously lifting the pan from the heat and tilting and turning it in all directions so the batter spreads evenly across the bottom in a thin circle. If the crêpe has any holes in it, quickly add a few drops of batter to fill them in.

Cook until the edges begin to dry and lift from the sides of the pan and the bottom is nicely browned (lift up an edge with a small silicone spatula or your fingers to check), about 1 minute. Use the spatula or your fingers to flip the crêpe over. Cook until the second side is browned, about 20 seconds more.

Slide the crêpe from the pan onto a large plate or cooling rack. Repeat with the remaining batter, adjusting the heat and spreading more butter in the pan every two or three crêpes, or whenever the pan begins to look a bit dry. You can stack the crêpes on the plate as they’re done; they won’t stick. The crêpes will soften as they cool. 

Make Ahead Tips

You can keep crêpes in the refrigerator for up to 3 days by wrapping the stack in plastic, then putting it in a zip-top freezer bag. Bring to room temperature (or reheat) before using.

To freeze crêpes for up to 3 months, lay pieces of waxed paper or parchment between every few so that it’s easy to pry off as many as you need. Wrap the stack in plastic, then slide it into a large zip-top freezer bag. Thaw wrapped frozen crêpes at room temperature until pliable, about an hour.

Serving Suggestions

Sugar & Lemon Crêpe: Warm a crêpe in a little butter in a skillet, sprinkle with sugar, and squeeze lemon juice over the top. Roll into a cylinder or fold into a triangle.

Sautéed Apple Crêpe: Cook a peeled, diced apple in a little butter with a sprinkle of sugar until tender and golden. Roll into a warm crêpe and serve.

Ham, Cheese & Pear Crêpe: Gently warm a crêpe in a dry skillet, sprinkle with grated Gruyère, and top with good-quality ham and very thin slices of ripe pear. Fold in the sides of the crêpe to make a flat packet and drizzle with a little melted butter.

Huevos Rancheros: Scramble an egg and arrange it along the lower half of a warm crêpe. Top with grated Monterey Jack or Cheddar, salsa verde, and a sprinkle of chopped fresh cilantro. Roll up and serve with more salsa and sour cream on the side.

Maple & Crème Fraîche Crêpe: Gently warm a crêpe in a dry skillet, spread with crème fraîche, and drizzle with maple syrup. Fold and eat right away.

Crêpe Sundae: Roll up a room-temperature crêpe, cut it crosswise into 1/2-inch ribbons, and put them in a bowl. Top with a scoop of ice cream and drizzle with chocolate or caramel sauce or both.

Mediterranean Wrap: Spread hummus on a room-temperature crêpe, top with crumbled feta and a few slices of roasted red pepper, and roll up.

Leftovers

Reheating Crêpes: If you have only a few crêpes to reheat, warm each one in a dry, hot skillet for 5 to 10 seconds per side. For a bigger batch, put them on a large ovenproof plate, cover with foil, and heat in a 300°F oven for about 10 minutes. Or, if you prefer, heat them in the microwave on a plate, covered with a paper towel, for about 30 seconds on medium power.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 140; Fat (g): fat g 8; Fat Calories (kcal): 70; Saturated Fat (g): sat fat g 4.5; Protein (g): protein g 4; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 2.5; Carbohydrates (g): carbs g 12; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 0.5; Sodium (mg): sodium mg 75; Cholesterol (mg): cholesterol mg 70; Fiber (g): fiber g 0;

Photo: Scott Phillips

Great crepe recipe! Even the first one was beautiful...

My daughter had to make crepes for French class-- we had so much fun making and eating these. So versatile too-- they go with anything, from savory to sweet.

Finally I can make great crepes! Followed the recipe exactly with excellent results. Had smoked salmon/boursin crepes that were terrific. Froze the left over crepes. The last few days have used them for strawberry or banana/nutella crepes that were so good. Thanks Ms. Holmberg.

these were awesome! I used whole wheat flour and a 10 inch stainless steel frying pan and they still turned out delicious and delicately beautiful. These were not egg-y tasting like other crepes I have tried, so I'm looking forward to trying them as dessert crepes. I served with a creamy chicken and mushroom filling and my family loved them. Thanks Fine Cooking for making me feel like a gourmet cook!

Great recipe, my pan is smaller so it made about 22 crepes. I was bemoaning my dull looking crepes half way through the cooking process when my husband pointed out the copper crepe pan I forgot about. How pretty are the ones made in the pan without non-stick! Will be using them tomorrow in the clementine crepe suzette recipe.

I replaced 2 oz (of the 6 1/2 oz) of flour with buckwheat flour and they were perfect. Great flavour.

5 stars! Restaurant quality crepes. Each one was perfect! Clear instructions-view video. Throwing out all other crepe recipes. Hope they are as good out of the freezer & reheated.....because they make 14 crepes!

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