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JeanMarie Brownson: Impress your valentine with homemade chocolate crepes

JeanMarie Brownson, Tribune Content Agency on

Crepes, those ultra-thin French pancakes, deserve a spot in our Valentine’s Day chocolate dreams. Crepes cook in less than a minute, can be made days ahead, and taste great flavored with chocolate and a sprinkling of sugar or decadently filled with whipped cream.

A blender full of batter, made quickly from flour, milk and eggs, actually improves with a stay in the refrigerator so the flour absorbs the liquid. Melted butter is a last-minute addition to help create tender, lacey thin pancakes every time. The butter also functions to easily release the cooked pancake from the pan.

Speaking of pans, our decades-old steel crepe pan is a treasured item. Truth be told, these days I rely on a heavy-bottomed, nonstick 7-inch skillet. Zero fat is needed to cook the crepes — just the proper heat. Once the pan is thoroughly hot, the cooked crepe slides right out of the pan.

Two tricky things about cooking crepes — knowing how much heat to use and how much batter per crepe. Work over medium to medium-high heat, adjusting it as you go along. Test for proper heat by adding a drop of water to the empty pan; it should evaporate upon contact.

Count on the first two crepes to be your practice material to learn how much batter you need. Use a measuring cup or ladle to add the batter to the hot pan; it should start cooking as soon as it hits the pan. Swirl the batter in the pan so it completely covers the bottom making a thin crepe. For the thinnest crepes, pour off any excess liquid back into the batter bowl.

It’s a bit of a dance between the stove, ladling in the batter and knowing when to flip the crepe. After the second side is cooked, you can stack cooked crepes on top of each other to keep them warm. Alternatively, cool the cooked crepes on a wire rack, then stack them in a covered container and refrigerate for several days.

 

For chocolate lovers, a few spoonfuls of unsweetened cocoa powder added to the batter turns out a milk chocolate-colored crepe. Fill that crepe with mocha whipped cream just before serving. Generous drizzles of warm chocolate sauce make this a dessert to impress.

Chocolate Crepes with Mocha Cream

Makes about 20 crepes

1 1/2 cups whole milk (or 1 cup nonfat milk and ½ cup half-and-half)

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