Crepes suzette are a magical thing. This classic dessert consists of French pancakes cooked in orange-infused butter until caramelized and later flambéed.
Crepes suzette became common in Parisian restaurants at the turn of the twentieth century after a young waiter supposedly set the sauce aflame when serving the dish to the Prince of Wales. The Prince was then said to have loved the sauce so much that he asked the sauce to be named after a companion at his table named Suzette.
Whether the story is actually true or not, I don’t know. What I do know is that these are probably my absolute favorite way to eat crepes.
In France, you’ll find crepes everywhere. Whether it’s a street cart vendor or a dedicated establishment like a creperie, there’s no shortage of these delectable pancakes.
Crepes can also be filled with a variety of ingredients. I remember staring at a crepe menu once that was 4 pages long! They had everything from simple Nutella and strawberries to savory choices like truffle and mushrooms.
When I get crepes from street vendors in Paris, I’ll typically just get some butter and sugar because I love the simplicity of it. At restaurants or when I’m making them at home, I love a plate of crepes suzette.
The Orange Butter
Crepes suzette don’t have an actual filling, per se, but that’s because they don’t need one. The crepe batter is simply whisked up just like any classic crepe batter, then cooked in a thin layer in a small skillet.
The unique aspect of crepes suzette comes in with the orange-infused butter. Butter is mixed with sugar, orange zest and a splash of orange juice to essentially create the beurre Suzette.
In traditional recipes, the butter is added to the pan, followed by the sugar and orange juice. This sauce is cooked until it’s bubbly, then the crepes are added in. This method requires temperature control as you can easily burn your butter or sugar.
I like to follow a more foolproof method where I prep the butter ahead of time by mixing softened butter with the rest of the ingredients (orange zest, juice, sugar). I do this in the time it takes for the crepe batter to rest.
Then, when it’s time to cook the sauce, I simply add the beurre suzette to the pan. Once bubbly and hot, I fold my crepes and place them into the sauce, one by one, spooning the sauce over each crepe.
The crepes bathe in this orange sauce before some brandy and orange liquor are added. Then, the magic happens.
A lighter stick (like this one) is ignited over the bubbly sauce while the pan is off the heat, causing a flame to rise up. Thankfully, this technique keeps the flame action mellow.
I’m all about magical desserts, just not flaming kitchens!
The flambé action in crepes suzette really contributes to that caramelization process and adds depth of flavor to the crepes. While crepes suzette don’t necessarily have the typical fillings of melted chocolate or whipped cream, you won’t feel like you’re missing anything.
They’ve got such incredible flavor all on their own, and the sticky, caramelized texture is pure heaven!
This classic dessert consists of French pancakes cooked in orange-infused butter until caramelized and later flambéed. Makes about 12 small crepes.
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour (62.5 grams)
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter (56.7 grams) melted
- 2 eggs
- 2 1/2 tbsp granulated sugar (31 grams)
- 1/2 cup milk (123.5 grams)
- 1/8 cup water (29.5 grams)
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (2 grams)
- pinch of salt
- 1 tbsp grand marnier (13 grams)
- 2 tbsp brandy (26 grams)
for the beurre suzette
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter (56.7 grams) softened
- 1 tsp orange zest (2 grams)
- 1 tsp orange juice (4 grams)
- 2 1/2 tbsp granulated sugar (31 grams)
Begin by creating the crepe batter. In a large bowl, whisk the melted butter, eggs, sugar, milk, water, vanilla, and salt. Whisk until it's smooth and combined well.
Add the flour in, bit by bit, whisking after each addition. Once the batter is smooth, let it rest for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, create the beurre suzette. Use a spatula to beat the butter, orange zest, juice, and sugar together until smooth and combined.
Place a small skillet (6 inches) over medium-low heat. Pour about 2 tablespoons worth of batter into the pan and immediately move the pan from side to side to get an even, thin layer. Cook for about 45 seconds, until the edges begin to crisp. Use a spatula to flip the crepe over and cook the other side for another 10 to 15 seconds. Move the crepes to a plate.
Grab a larger skillet (10 inches) and place over medium heat. Add the beurre suzette and allow it to melt and become bubbly. While you're waiting for the butter to melt, fold your crepes into triangles, or a cone shape. Carefully place each folded crepe into the skillet, arranging them next to each other in a radial pattern. Spoon some of the sauce over the crepes as you're adding them in.
Add the grand marnier, then the brand. Move the skillet off heat and ignite the liquid with a lighter. Move the skillet back over to the stove and allow it to cook until the sauce has been caramelized and reduced.