Introduction: Crepe Roses With Blood Oranges and Cardamom
Ideally, everything I made would taste just as good as it looks. It can be tricky, though to make a gorgeous, special presentation that also tastes spectacular. (I bet you can guess how I feel about fondant.) So when I need to make a dish that is particularly pretty, I try to work with the visual qualities of a particular food, rather than trying to force it to look like something else. For a while, I've had a hunch that the pretty, irregular edges of crêpes might just make a lovely leaf or petal. Then I ran into a simple paper art technique for roses... put the two together and you get crêpe roses! They look complicated, but they’re really not difficult to make. And you won’t need lots of special equipment, either. If you have a non-stick or cast iron pan, a squeeze bottle (reused ketchup bottles work well), paper coffee filters and a sharp knife, you’re in business. And the best part is that they are absolutely real food-- every bit as delicious as regular old round crepes. You can make a few flowers to decorate a serving of regular crepes or make a whole bouquet for your valentine.
Obviously you don't need to make my recipe for sauce to make crêpe roses, but I think you'll want to. Pretty red blood oranges are in season and I think that the pink sauce looks stunning with the roses.The flavors in this dish were inspired by the classic crepes suzette. But my take is a bit lighter and brighter than its gloriously buttery grandparent. And I threw in some cardamom and orange flower water too, just because they are delicious.
3 small Blood Oranges
3/4 c. flour
1 1/4 c. milk
1 T. butter, melted
1 T sugar
the zest from 1 orange
1/2 t. orange flower water (optional)
1/2 t. vanilla extract
Cardamom Blood Orange Sauce:
2/3 c. blood orange juice, reserved from cutting the orange segments
3 cardamom pods
1/4 c. sugar
2 T. Butter
at least a dozen roses, serves 2-3
Step 1: Mix Batter & Cut Orange Segments
You can do both of these steps ahead of time. Orange segments will keep in the refrigerator for several days. And crêpe batter is at its best after resting for a day. Make sure your knife is extra sharp before you start to cut your orange segments.
Mix crêpe batter:
Beat the egg together with the milk, sugar,salt, zest and flavorings. Add the flour a little at a time, whisking vigorously to avoid getting any lumps. Once all of the flour is incorporated, whisk in the melted butter. Cover and refrigerate for a minimum of two hours. Overnight is even better.
Cut orange segments
1. Cut off the top and bottom. It might take a few slices until you get cleanly into the fruit.
2. Set the fruit on the now flat bottom and cut the peel away, in strips. Once you have cut one piece away from the fruit, there will be a nice line that you can trace to get the rest of the peel off neatly.
3. Trim away all of the remaining pith.
4. Cut each segment on the left and right to separate the segment from the membrane. At the end you will have a pile of segments and something like a book made of citrus membranes.
5. Squeeze the center skins over your bowl of supremes to get any remaining juice out.
Place a non-stick or cast iron pan or griddle over medium heat. Lightly coat the surface with butter. Pour about half of your crêpe batter into a squeeze bottle. (Filling it too full makes it hard to control the flow.) It usually takes a few crêpes to make sure that the pan is at the right temperature. Quickly squeeze your crêpe batter out in a spiral around the pan. I found it easiest to trace around the outside edge of the pan and then just move up and make a little hook in the center of the circle. Once you've got your spiral give the pan a quick shake to help thin out the crêpe. You want your crêpe line to be about an inch wide, but don’t worry about making it perfect, those little imperfections will make your rose look organic.
Remove from pan:
Use a thin metal spatula to take a peek at the under surface of the crepe to see if the crêpe is browning correctly. Ideally, your crêpe should be golden in some parts and still pale in others. When your crêpe has cooked through, run your metal spatula all the way around the spiral to loosen it form the pan. I found it easiest to fold the crêpe in order to lift it out. With the shape there isn’t a simple folding plan, just fold things over until you can lift it all at once once your spatula. Immediately transfer to a round paper coffee filter. Once the crêpe has cooled enough to handle, carefully unfold it and return the crêpe to its spiral shape. Place another coffee filter on top of this crêpe, so that you can stack the next one on top. Keep going this way until all the crêpes are cooked.
Step 3: Cook Sauce & Serve
Cook orange juice with spices:
Crush cardamom pods and remove the seeds from their shells. Add cardamom seeds along with sugar and orange juice to a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil. Continue boiling until the mixture has lost about half of its volume, it should be slightly thickened and syrupy. Remove from heat. Let cardamom sit in the syrup to infuse while you cook the crepes. (You can prepare this mixture ahead of time and keep it in the fridge for a few days.)
Set one of your crepe spirals on a flat work surface. Starting at the outside, roll the spiral up toward the middle. Start rolling rather tightly, but loosen up as you go. When you are satisfied with how the rose looks, turn it over onto it’s side and cut a flat place for the rose to sit. Set rose on a plate to serve or in a dish to warm.
Strain out the cardamom seeds and return your syrup to a saucepan. Heat the orange syrup until boiling. Remove from the heat and throw in the butter. Whisk vigorously until the butter is incorporated. The mixture should turn slightly opaque. Carefully ladle the warm sauce over your crepes. Note: once the butter is added to this sauce, you must keep it warm or the butter will separate out.
Arrange roses and orange segments on plates. If you like, you can reheat the crepe roses on the plate just before you serve them. Or you can heat them in the oven and transfer them to their plates. Squeeze sauce over the roses, making sure that some of the sauce gets in between the petals.