This time I share a great post with Katherine Martinelli about crepes, but not just any crepes; these were created by a famous chef in Budapest, Hungary, at a famous restaurant, named Gundel. Katherine’s blog has one of the oldest crepe recipes, named “stacked crepes”, or “rakott palacsinta” in Hungarian, but the crepes on this blog are not much younger.
Single crepe filled with the walnut, raisins and rum creation
I am sure you heard the expression that “wine and women get better with age”; I guess they missed these crepes.
Crepes with drizzled chocolate sauce, ready to be served
The name of this dessert does not sound exciting (they did not have blogs with SEO-friendly headings), but if you visit Katherine’s blog and see the photos, you will be amazed. I bet with you, if I would not tell you that this is made from layers of single crepes you would never guess.
Katherine is actually a native New Yorker, with some Hungarian roots, but now calls Be’er Sheva, Israel her home. That is a big leap; but she is a world traveler, an accomplished writer across three continents and a first class photographer; so it is really irrelevant where she is physically. She is always with her audience through her beautiful photographs and tasty recipes.
It is a joy to work with someone like Katherine, that values good food, appreciates learning about the history of a dish, but most of all she loves to share her experiences with you. So, please make sure to visit her blog often; you will always be delighted to learn something new. This time her blog has the recipe, the how to…and the history behind the 23-layer crepe cake.
Here, at Chocolates & Figs, I am writing about the other famous dessert made with crepes and created by Gundel Karoly, the owner and famous chef of the Gundel restaurant. These crepes are filled with walnut cream that is enlivened with rum, soaked with rich chocolate sauce and served flambeed at the table. As you can imagine, the demand for this dessert has never stopped growing; it survived two wars, a suppressing communist regime and periodic economic hardships.
The one thing that amazes me the most is how Gundel managed to maintain not only its superior quality of food , but its “five-star” service throughout all these periods. So the next time you visit Budapest, make sure you treat yourself to an evening at Gundel.
Karoly opened the restaurant in 1910 and he managed to create the place to be the most desired and most visited restaurant by the “Dolce Vita” people in no time. One of the reason for its success is that all servers undergo a specialized training in England, which includes preparation for serving the Royal family at the Buckingham Palace. The other, for Gundel’s weakness for anything French; so the majority of the menu is based on a traditional French kitchen – and who does not like French dishes and desserts?
One of the specialty of this dessert, in addition to its rich filling and elaborate presentation, is that the crepes are made nearly paper-thin. Moreover, although the basic ingredients are flour, milk and eggs, it is mixed very carefully to reduce gluten formation. In France, chefs are experimenting with replacing the milk with beer, which makes the crepes even lighter and more airy than the current versions with the milk.
Perhaps you should try it as well? Or use sparkling wine? I know, my mother used to replace some of the milk with soda water; I guess the carbon dioxide in the soda water, helped her making the crepes to be fluffy.
I want to give you storing information, but somehow I doubt you will need to use it. Anyway, the crepes freeze well, but you must place parchment paper between each piece to be able to separate it when needed for use. You can freeze the crepes at least for 4 weeks, but some recommend up to two months. Remember, however, that these are not filled crepes, just simple, plain crepes.
When you decide to use it, move the crepes from the freezer to the refrigerator overnight. Filled crepes you can keep in the refrigerator for 2-3 days only.
Did you know that the word crepe comes from the Latin word for curly/wavy? – most likely due to the curling of the edge of the crepe as it dries during cooking – (on Food and Cooking by Harold McGee).
But let’s start to cook.
“Gundel Palacsinta” , or Walnut Crepes with Chocolate Sauce
1 cup (8 oz, 250 mL) milk
1 cup (150g) flour
2 oz/60g sweet, unsalted butter
1 teaspoons (5 mL) vanilla
1 tablespoons (15 mL) rum
1/8 teaspoons salt
2 oz/60g raisins
2 oz/60g granulated sugar
Zest of 1/2 a lemon
4 tbsp dark rum or brandy
3 tablespoons (50 g) Dutch cocoa powder
3 tablespoons (50 g) granulated sugar
3 egg yolks
100ml heavy cream
Preparing the Crepes
Whisk the eggs with a fork
Pour the eggs into the milk and whisk it well.
Pour this mixture into the flour and mix it well
Try to make a smooth batter.
Add the rest of the ingredients and mix it one more time.
Strain the mix into a bowl, cover it with a plastic wrap right on the surface and place it in the refrigerator to rest for 1 hour.
Preparing the Filling
Finely chop the walnuts and mix it with the granulated sugar.
Add the raisins ,the zest and the rum and mix it ell.
Put it aside until use.
Prepare the Chocolate Sauce
Whisk the egg yolks with a fork.
Mix the cocoa powder with the sugar.
Add the egg yolks to the cacao powder and mix it.
Bring the milk and cream to boil then pour it over the cocoa powder mix.
Return the mix to the heat and cook it over low fires until the custard thickens.
You need to stir the custard continuously.
Remove the custard from the heat and add the finely chopped chocolate and rum, stirring until combined.
Keep the sauce warm while cooking the crepes.
Continue to Prepare the Crepes
Heat a 8 or 9-inch skillet
Add a knob of butter and swirl the pan to allow the butter to cover the entire bottom of the skillet.
alternatively, you can use a pastry brush and brush the melted butter all over the skillet.
When the butter is foaming, pour in a ¼ cup (dry measure) of the crepe batter, tilting and swirling the skillet around so that the batter covers the entire bottom of the skillet.
Cook over a medium heat until the crepe is golden brown underneath.
Turn the crepe with a spatula to cook the other side
When done, transfer to a plate.
Continue with the rest of the batter and set aside.
Place a spoonful of the walnut filling on the crepe and roll it up with the open side to be placed on the plate.
Repeat the same steps with the remaining crepes.
Serving this Elaborate Dessert
Usual serving size is two crepes.
Drizzle the chocolate across the crepes
Pour warmed up rum, or cognac on the crepes and ignite it
If flaming makes you a little nervous – as it does me – sprinkle a few drops of rum over the pancakes that are covered with the chocolate sauce and serve it.
Please go check Katherine Martinelli’s blog. You’ll find more pictures like the one below; a recipe that you will want to place into your collection and enjoy Katherine ‘s writing about food, travel, nature and just about anything beautiful life has to offer with the enhancement through Katherine’s eyes.