Crêpas de Castaña con Miel
I hope I’m never too old to play in my mother’s room. Stocked like a beauty counter at Saks and filled with back issues of ¡Hola! (similar to the UK’s Hello! magazine but with fewer Windsors and more Grimaldis), my sister and I treat it like a duty free shop where everything is actually free. Searching through her neat drawers and tables, we call dibs on new masks and eye creams, bracelets and rings we’re sure our grandmother would’ve wanted us to have, charms and trinkets that we casually discarded like the wicked stepsisters when we were younger but now want to reclaim for sentiment, or irony, or both. Overcome with the mami-can-I-haves from the moment we land, we can be pretty tough to take, though in our defense, she gets pretty spoiled when she comes to visit us.
It was on my last trip home that I found this recipe for chestnut crepes in an old copy of Vanidades I’d smuggled out of her house on my way to the airport (seriously I don’t know why she lets us in). Filled with ricotta cheese, chopped marrons glacés and drizzled with honey, I thought they’d make a great mother’s day breakfast. We’d taken a trip to Paris to celebrate her birthday and since then she’d been searching out pans and paddles to send me in the hopes I’d become her little crêpe-making machine (oddly enough, pushier than she’s ever been about making her grandchildren, another reason I love her).
Out of season, chestnut flour was harder to find then I expected. A gluten-free alternative to wheat-based flours, I tried Whole Foods first then smaller health food stores with little luck. I considered substitutions but I had my mind set on chestnuts so I kept looking. Finally, I made a last minute run to Buon Italia where they had every kind I could want – floured, candied, and honeyed. I was relieved to find it. Mother’s day is a no-compromise holiday and it seems impossible not to do everything you can for the women who are always doing everything they can for you.
Crêpas de Castaña con Miel/Chestnut Crepes with Honey
Adapted from Vanidads, Añ0 49, Numero23. I had beginner’s luck the first few times I made crepes so I started skipping steps like allowing the batter to rest and clarifying the butter. After a few so-so results, I could appreciate that they really were worth the trouble.
For crepe batter:
1 ¼ cup cold water
4 ounces unbleached, all-purpose flour
4 ounces chestnut flour
1 ounce chestnut honey
1 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Pinch of salt
16 ounces fresh ricotta cheese
8 marrons glaces, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons clarified unsalted butter or more as needed
5 tablespoons chestnut honey, divided
Sift together the flours and salt in a separate bowl breaking up any lumps. Combine the flours, eggs, honey and melted butter in a blender jar. Cover and blend at highest speed for 1 minute. Scape down the sides with a rubber spatula as needed and blend for 2 to 3 seconds more. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Heat a heavy cast-iron skillet or crêpe pan over moderately high heat. Brush with about tablespoon of clarified butter or oil. Take pan off heat and, holding the handle of the pan, pour 1/4 cup of the batter into the middle of the pan. Tilt the pan in all directions to so that batter evenly coats the bottom of the pan. Return to heat and cook for 30 to 60 seconds until lightly browned. Turn and cook on the other side an additional 30 seconds. Cool on a rack before stacking on a plate. Add more butter or oil as needed and repeat with remaining batter.*
Spread crêpes with two heaping tablespoon of ricotta filling. Roll jelly-roll style or fold in half.
*Crêpes can be kept in a 200 degree oven until ready to serve. They can also be made in advance and reheated before using or frozen. If frozen, thaw overnight in the refrigerator then reheat in a 300 degree oven for 5-10 minutes.
Makes 8-10 crêpes.