This is an update on the classic French dessert, which used to be a favorite in restaurants, prepared tableside by a uniformed maître d’. This version is fresher, with clementine juice rather than the traditional orange juice. The original recipe requires flambéing to caramelize the sugar, but here, a caramel-based sauce lends that bittersweet note of burnt sugar without the pyrotechnics.
Heat the sugar and 2 Tbs. water in a 10-inch skillet or sauté pan over medium-high heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves and the mixture starts to boil. Once it boils, let it cook without stirring until it becomes very pale amber, about 4 minutes. Stir in the honey until blended and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is deep amber, 1 to 2 minutes more (it will bubble vigorously; adjust the heat as necessary so it doesn’t boil over).
Remove the skillet from the heat and pour in the clementine juice (be careful; it will splatter). Put the skillet back on the heat and simmer the caramel, stirring to dissolve any hard bits, until the mixture is smooth and slightly thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the butter until combined. Keep warm over very low heat.
Beat the heavy cream in a large bowl with an electric hand mixer on medium speed until it forms soft peaks, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the confectioners’ sugar and Grand Marnier and continue to beat until you have billowy, medium-firm peaks, about 1 minute more.
Fold each of the crêpes in half, then in half again to make triangles. Arrange them in the skillet and let them heat through and soak up some of the caramel sauce. Carefully flip the crêpes and let them heat for another minute or so. Transfer to dessert plates, garnish with a dollop of the whipped cream, and serve.
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Photo: Scott Phillips