On one of our first Valentine’s Days together, Bryan and I decided to go out to dinner. He made a reservation at a local French bistro that we ordinarily enjoyed. The thing I remember most about that night was the embarrassing horror of it all—of the spectacle of public displays of romance. We were surrounded by couples trying desperately to have a romantic dinner, everyone was wearing red and awkwardly pulling out chairs for each other. There was this hope in the air that this would all begin to feel really romantic. Which is, of course, that last thing that is going to happen at a restaurant on Valentine’s Day. Romance rarely happens when it is supposed to (the exception perhaps being sunsets?), especially when there are dozens of other couples there trying for the same thing. We survived the dinner, and I remember being really happy that Bryan also found it objectionable. We vowed that year to never go out to dinner on Valentine’s Day, unless we were going to Taco Bell or some other place that can’t help but feel romantic.
Instead, we make some delicious food and are happy to be home together. I was thinking about Valentine’s Day cooking this year when I made these cheese crepes from one of the all-time great cookbooks, Pure Dessert by Alice Medrich. I’ve had the recipe bookmarked for years. I like cheese in sweets, I guess it is the Eastern European in me. These are so lovely. One of the best things about them is that they can be assembled the day before you plan on serving them and tucked away in the refrigerator. You then simply need to quickly caramelize them and serve them up. They’re great as a dessert, but would also be nice for breakfast or an afternoon snack. I liked them plain, but they would also be great with a drizzle of honey or some raspberries. Make a batch this weekend and be happy you’re home.
Caramelized Crepes Filled with Fresh Cheese (from Pure Dessert by Alice Medrich)
- 1 3/4 cups whole milk
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- Butter for cooking crepes and sauteing filled crepes
- 1 pound slightly tangy fresh cheese, such as cottage cheese, fromage blanc, mild goat cheese, paneer, or yogurt cheese
- Sugar for sprinkling
- Sour cream or whipped cream for serving (optional)
To make the crepes: Combine the milk, melted butter, and eggs in a pitcher or measuring cup with a pouring spout. Put the flour and salt in a blender or food processor. With the motor running, pour the milk mixture through the feed tube and blend for 5 seconds. Set a medium mesh strainer over a bowl and strain the mixture into the bowl. Press any lumps through the strainer and stir them into the batter. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or up to 1 day.
Heat crepe pan or 6-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Brush the pan lightly with butter. Pour 2 tablespoons of the batter into the pan and immediately tilt the pan to coat the entire surface evenly. Cook, on one side only, until the crepe is uniformly translucent and the surface no longer looks wet, 45 seconds to 1 minute. Loosen the edges of the crepe with a spatula and invert it onto a piece of waxed paper. Repeat with the remaining batter, buttering the pan as necessary. (the crepes can be stacked between sheets of waxed paper, wrapped airtight, and stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.)
To assemble the crepes: Place a slightly rounded tablespoon of cheese below the center of the brown side of a crepe. Shape the cheese into a cigar about 3 1/2-inches long. Then roll up the crepes, as you would a rug, around the cheese. Place the filled crepe, seam side down on a wax-paper lined tray. Repeat with all of the crepes. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 2 days.
To saute the crepes: Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add 1 tablespoon butter and swirl to coat the pan. Sprinkle 2 to 3 teaspoons sugar over the butter, and add only as many crepes to the pan as will fit comfortably. Cook seam side down only until just browned on the first side, about 30 seconds. Sprinkle the crepes with sugar, turn then carefully, and brown the bottoms. Place on a warm serving plate. Repeat with the remaining crepes. Serve immediately, with a dollop of sour cream or whipped cream, if you like.
* I made these with cottage cheese and fromage blanc, I loved them both. If you are using an especially tart cheese, you might want to add a tiny bit of sugar to even things out.