Happy Monday! The weekend for us usually starts with a trip to the local market. Giulio absolutely hates it because you can never go more than a few feet without having to stop to talk to someone, but I like the sense of community. You’d think living in a small town in Tuscany would be full of community fun… like the movie Chocolat but in Italian… in reality, it’s not like that.
Mostly, people keep to themselves. I’d like to say mind their own business, but everyone knows absolutely everything about everyone else, whether they’ve physically spoken to that person in the last decade or not. You can’t even accidentally drive your car into your next door neighbour’s steps without the whole town knowing… that may or may not have happened to… cough, cough… a friend of mine… (😶)
It’s really cold in Manciano at the moment, so I didn’t head out to the market. I have a huge problem with chilblains. If you’ve never heard of them, imagine setting your toes on fire. Chilblains are like the precursor to gangrene if you want to be dramatic. I never used to get them in Australia, but the cold European climate, plus poor circulation and a ridiculous habit of wearing open-toed shoes in winter equals purple toes and big red welts for me every year around this time.
So stuck indoors with oodles of time and only so many episodes of Supernatural, I decided to come up with the most elaborate breakfast imaginable and rope Giulio into making 35 dessert crepes to transform into a gorgeous 3-tier crepe cake.
I love dessert crepes almost as much as I love pancakes. They have a lovely light texture, which means you can eat 10 of them before you start to feel guilty. And this is where everything comes to a screeching halt. The crepe cake was a disaster. So many good crepes died in what turned out to be a mushy, melty approximation of the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
So rather than give up, I gathered the few good men (I mean crepes) I had left and shifted gears into a more traditional crepe recipe with fresh strawberries, mascarpone cream and a honey and rose syrup.
Bagels and cream cheese are best buddies, but I feel like crepes could be the third wheel. Or second wheel since there are no bagels in this recipe. This is especially true when you replace the cream cheese with a beautifully sweet vanilla mascarpone and an easy, but divine honey and rose syrup.
Now this isn’t the showstopper I dreamed up. But I’m still chuffed with the results. The dessert crepes were incredibly fluffy and scented with a touch of orange. I left the batter to rest overnight, this is an old trick they use here in Manciano when they make a local version of savoury crepes. It gives you more fluff and a smoother texture.
I actually didn’t put any sugar in the batter and used beer, which is not a typo! Beer acts a bit like baking soda, reacting with the other ingredients to make your batter lighter. It’s a common trick in tempura prawns and other onion rings, but it won’t make your dessert crepes alcoholic. The alcohol evaporates when you cook them!
Looking at the photos now, there is something a little romantic about this recipe. Beery dessert crepes and roses for Valentine’s Day anyone?
CREPES WITH MASCARPONE CREAM AND HONEY ROSE SYRUP
150g plain flour
80g butter, melted
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
rind of 1 orange
fresh strawberries, sliced
1/3 cup honey
2 tablespoons caster sugar
1 teaspoon rosewater, or to taste
250g mascarpone, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 tablespoon sugar
Combine milk and melted butter in a small jug. Whisk eggs and oil in a large bowl until combined, add the milk mixture, then gradually add the flour, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Stir in the orange zest and beer, and refrigerate to rest overnight.
Heat a non-stick crepe pan over medium-high heat, add a quarter cup of batter, swirl to coat and cook until golden, turn and cook the other side for another minute. Transfer to a plate and repeat. Makes about 10 crepes.
For the rose honey syrup, melt butter and sugar in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until butter starts to foam. Add the honey and simmer over low heat for 2-3 minutes or until slightly thickened. Remove from the heat, stir in the rosewater and allow to cool slightly.
For the mascarpone cream, place all the ingredients in a small bowl and whip with a balloon whisk to combine.
To serve, arrange crepes on a plate with plenty of strawberries. Add a scoop of mascarpone cream and drizzle over your rose honey syrup!