Sweet Crespelle (Italian Crêpes)

A stack of crespelle

David Marsden / Getty Images

  • Total: 40 mins
  • Prep: 5 mins
  • Cook: 35 mins
  • Resting Time: 60 mins
  • Yield: Serves 10 to 12

Crespelle are paper-thin pancakes, the Italian equivalent of France's crêpes, and just like the French version, they can be either sweet or savory. This recipe is for simple, sweet crespelle that can be served with the topping or filling of your choice: Nutella, dark melted chocolate, fresh fruit such as strawberries or bananas, chestnut cream, mascarpone or ricotta cream, zabaglione, jam, etc. 

To make this into a savory version, omit the sugar and alcohol and slightly increase the amount of salt. In that case, you can use any number of savory fillings; for example, spinach and ricotta, the same filling that might be used for cannelloni.

Though the dish now has a certain aura of elegance to it, in the past these thin pancakes were considered poor people's food. The change came in 1895, when famed restauranteur Henri Carpentier, then a teenage assistant waiter at Montecarlo's Café de Paris, accidentally ruined pancakes meant for the Prince of Wales, Edward VIII. Edward suggested this delicious new preparation be named after his young friend, thereby creating Crêpes Suzette.

Ingredients

  • 1 egg plus 2 egg yolks (reserve 1 of the whites for later)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar (omit if making savory crespelle)
  • 1 generous pinch of salt (1/2 teaspoon for savory crespelle)
  • 4/5 cup / 100 g flour
  • 1 cup / 250 mL cold milk
  • 2 tablespoons brandy or rum (omit if making savory crespelle)
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter

Steps to Make It

  1. Beat the egg and yolks together with the sugar and the salt, then incorporate the flour and slowly add the milk, so as to obtain a creamy batter.

  2. Whip the reserved egg white to moderately firm peaks and carefully fold in the liquor, then fold the mixture into the batter. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter and fold it into the batter, too. Let the batter sit in a cool place for at least 1 hour.

  3. When you are ready to proceed, heat your crêpe pan over medium heat. Melt the remaining butter and lightly brush the crêpe pan.

  4. Pour 2 to 3 tablespoons of batter into the center of the pan and distribute it evenly by tilting the pan. Cook for a couple of minutes, then flip the crespella over and cook for a couple of minutes more. Don't let it get too brown.

  5. Continue until you have finished the batter, stacking the finished crespelle on a plate and covering them with a cloth to keep them warm.