Decadent French crêpes, very thin pancakes, served in a delicious orange and caramel sauce, flambé with Grand Marnier orange alcohol. This is the common recipe, you’ll read in the story that the traditional one is with mandarin butter and not flambéed.
This is a must eat among French desserts. Maybe one of my favorites. I’m crazy about those crêpes Suzette! I could eat or drink the sauce alone!! I usually finish the remaining sauce in my yoghurt. And set fire – flambé Grand Marnier in front of your guests, is so nice to do, it always have a great success. I give you secrets of preparation of this iconic French dessert and tell its story. Do you know who was Suzette?
The sauce is made of caramel, citrus juice and zests. Mainly orange with a bit of lemon. It reduces to get a nice consistency, a bit like maple syrup, as we don’t want it to be too liquid. Then comes alcohol. Don’t worry, it’s first heated then flambé just after being poured over the sauce. This part is amazing to do. As for alcohol you should use Grand Marnier. But any orange flavor strong alcohol would do: Cointreau or Combier, Curacao (as it was for the original recipe more than a hundred years ago)…
Origin and story of crêpes Suzette: As often, historians don’t all agree on one unique story.
It is commonly written that Suzette crêpes were invented in Monaco in January 1896 by a chef (probably Auguste Escoffier then chef at the Monaco Grand Hôtel) for Prince of Wales, future King Edward VII and son of Queen Victoria, who was accompanied by a lady named Suzette, Suzanne Reichenberg of her real name (who was not even his girlfriend). Auguste Escoffier offered to name the recipe he created in the honor of the Prince with the Prince name. The Prince would have replied that he was not worth it. Instead he would have chosen Suzette who was with him. Thanks to that we’re not eating today crêpes Edouard! Then French theater actors made fun finding anecdotes and plays, a young lady named uzette serving crèpes to the other characters… And from there the legend went on.
Among other stories I read :
Auguste Escoffier’s employee, Henri Charpentier, is said to have served those crêpes to the Prince. But since he was only 16 at the time, it’s most unlikely! Be that as it may, Henri Charpentier credited himself with the invention of the crêpe Suzette recipe when he was the cook of the American Rockefeller family in the United States.
Another story is that crêpes Suzette were invented earlier in 1890 at the Savoy Hotel in London where Auguste Escoffier, the real inventor, was working. And as often, the addition of alcohol would have been a clumsiness. This accident is probably true, but according to historians later and not for the first crêpes Suzette served to Prince.
So who shall we believe?
The original recipe of crêpes Suzette created by Auguste Escoffier is described in his book “The French culinary art” and differs in many ways from what is commonly cooked today.
- Obviously crêpes were not flambéed.
- The liqueur used in the Suzette sauce (as well as in the crêpe batter) was curacao orange liqueur and not Grand Marnier as today.
- Citrus used was mandarin more than orange, or orange-lemon mix as today.
- The sauce is indicated as citrus butter or mandarin butter, with an important amount of butter.
I give you here the modern recipe commonly prepared with orange sauce flambé with Grand Marnier. Some do it in front of the guests, soaking crêpes in the sauce and at the last moment pour in hot Grand Marnier and set fire. I prefer to flambé the sauce only then pour the sauce in over the crêpes. I’ll give you the original crêpes Suzette recipe later.
Note that crêpes are made in this recipe with beer, for lighter crêpes as the sauce is a bit rich. You can switch for the classic crèpes recipe here and have a look at my explanations, tips and tricks for perfect French crêpes.
Crepes Suzette Flambé, Recipe and Story
For the crêpe batter
- 200 gr flour
- 30 gr sugar
- 2 gr salt thus a generous pinch of salt
- 4 eggs
- 500 ml milk
- 50 gr butter
- 100 ml beer
For the Suzette sauce
- 125 gr sugar
- 100 gr butter
- 150 ml orange juice 2 to 3 oranges depending on size
- 100 ml lemon juice about 1 large lemon
- orange zest
- 10 ml Grand Marnier orange alcohol
Start by preparing the crêpe batter.
- Combine dry ingredients (flour, salt and sugar).
- Gradually add eggs, milk, melted butter and beer, constantly mixing to prevent any lumps. Let it stand in the fridge ideally for one hour.
Meanwhile, make the Suzette sauce.
- As everything goes very fast when it comes to caramel, start by preparing and measuring all ingredients: weigh sugar, dice butter. Zest oranges with a zester (ideally make thin strips). Squeeze oranges and lemon to get the required quantities. Measure Grand Marnier.
Then make caramel.
- Pour sugar in a saucepan, with no water, and heat without whisking. When it turns to a beautiful amber color, add diced butter and whisk immediately (it will stop the cooking process).
- Then add the orange and lemon juice. Stir well and leave over medium heat to reduced.
- Note that if you accidentally have remaining sugar rocks (formed by the temperature shock when you added butter to the caramel), they will little by little dissolve and disappear. By reducing, caramel and juices will form a nice and glossy syrup.
- Grease a pan by adding butter knob. When butter start to melt, use a paper towel to lay butter all over the pan and remove any excess. Stir batter that have rested so that texture is even. Pour one ladleful in the hot and greased pan.
- After 1 or 2 minutes flip to cook on the other side. Go on and on, you should make about a dozen with this amount of dough. Ideally let them stand in the oven at 30 – 40 °C so that crêpes stay warm.
- Then 2 solutions heat Grand Marnier, pour it in the sauce and immediately flambé. Scratch a match and approach the hot sauce with alcohool. Flames will suddunly appear and for a few minutes alcool will burn off. When no alcohol remain, flames will disapear. Cover crêpes folded in 4, cover with orange zests.
- Or soak folded in 4 crêpes in the sauce. Heat Grand Marnier and flambé. Add orange zests.
- Whatever solution you choose, ideally leave crêpes in the Suzette sauce for a few minutes so that crèpes take all the sauce flavours.