dark chocolate and raspberry jam crêpesPosted: January 15, 2012
When I was at Cambridge, the graduate student organization at my college would often plan tastings – of wine, cheese, beer, regional cuisines, and, best of all, chocolate. I went to a chocolate tasting towards the end of my time there, the night before one of my exams – I figured if I didn’t know everything I needed to know for the exam by that point, I was pretty much screwed anyway, so why not give my brain a rest and eat some chocolate? It turned out to be a very good plan indeed, as the exam I took the next morning received the highest marks of all.
The tasting was organized by a PhD student in the sciences, and she had a range of chocolate bars for us to try. I didn’t know much about chocolate prior to this (a few years back when I was backpacking around Europe, I walked out of a chocolatier in Zurich without buying anything because I thought it was too expensive, and that I could enjoy Swiss chocolate just as well by buying candy bars at the grocery stores). The tasting completely changed my approach to chocolate. The most exciting part was that a chocolatier from nearby Newmarket had brought some of her handcrafted chocolates for us to try (for anyone who lives in the area, the place was called Artistry in Cocoa, and is definitely worth giving a try). I can’t remember all of the chocolates that clearly by now, but I do remember one with a honey-cream-cumin filling (the flavors go together surprisingly well), one with an Earl Grey chocolate cream interior, and, my favorite of all, one with a center of raspberry jam made from raspberries grown in her mother’s backyard that had a coating of 98% chocolate to balance the sweetness of the jam.
Maybe I feel this way because I was only able to have one or two of these chocolates, and because I may never have one again as Newmarket is now nowhere close to where I live, but it resides in my memory as one of the best chocolates I’ve ever had.
All of that was a long, roundabout way of introducing these crêpes. For some reason I started thinking about those chocolates again the other day (it’s been nearly three years since I had them), and I realized that, though I can neither go to Newmarket nor make my own chocolates, I could recreate that flavor combination using the chocolate crêpes I posted awhile ago (then with a Nutella filling). I filled them with raspberry jam and then, to ramp up the bitter chocolate flavor, melted unsweetened and bittersweet chocolate together to garnish the crêpes. A little bit of powdered sugar made them pretty enough to serve to guests without compromising the intensity of the chocolate, and I came as close as I’ve come in the last four years to experiencing those magical chocolates again.
Chocolate Crêpes with Raspberry Jam
I looked around at a few chocolate sauce recipes, and finally decided that the simplest thing would be to just melt the chocolate and use right away, rather than adding extra ingredients that might detract from the bitter chocolate flavor. I keep emphasizing the bitterness of the chocolate, but I promise that it is perfectly balanced by the sweet raspberry jam. I’ve given chocolate proportions that will be enough to garnish all 16 of the crêpes, but you can easily scale it down if you are just eating a few crêpes at a time – you basically just want a 2:1 ratio of unsweetened chocolate to bittersweet chocolate. When I first posted this recipe for the crêpes, I wrote that it didn’t matter if you used Dutch process cocoa or natural unsweetened cocoa. I have now made these crêpes with both, and can say that the natural cocoa crêpes will be significantly lighter in color than if you use Dutch process – more like milky coffee than dark chocolate. They still taste good, but the chocolate flavor is not as intense. I recommend using Dutch process cocoa if you have it (and if you bake often with chocolate, it is really worth buying some in bulk – I got mine from Chocosphere, a good online retailer for chocolate). These would be lovely garnished with a few raspberries when raspberries are in season again.
Makes about 16 crêpes
2 cups (500 ml) whole milk
3 tablespoons (25 g) Dutch-process cocoa powder
3 tablespoons (45 g) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, plus more for cooking crêpes
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups (175 g) flour
4 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 oz. bittersweet chocolate (I used 70%), chopped
Powdered sugar, to garnish
Combine the milk, cocoa powder, butter, sugar and salt in a small saucepan and warm, stirring from time to time, just until the butter has melted.
Put the flour and eggs into a blender, add the warmed cocoa mixture, and blend until smooth. You may need to pause to scrape down the sides of the blender. Chill the batter in the refrigerator for at least an hour, or overnight.
To prepare the chocolate sauce, fill a pot about 1/3 of the way full with water, and place a heat-proof bowl over the water – the bowl should not touch the water. Place the pot and bowl over a burner, and bring the water to a simmer. Add the chopped chocolate and stir until fully melted. Remove bowl from pot, and set aside (you can do this part as you are cooking the crêpes if you are good at multi-tasking).
When you are ready to begin the crêpes, take the batter out of the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature (maybe 20-30 minutes). Heat a 10- or 12-inch skillet (nonstick is easiest to use if you have it) over medium to high heat. When it is hot, add a small pat of butter, and wipe it around the pan with a paper towel. Pour in 1/4 cup (60 ml) of the batter. Swirl it around in the pan until the surface of the pan is evenly covered by the batter. Cook the crêpe 45 seconds to 1 minute. When the edges look crispy, gently flip the crêpe with a spatula. Smear a bit of raspberry jam (I used a heaping teaspoon) over a quarter of the crêpe. Let the crêpe cook for about a minute on the second side. Then fold it in half, and then in half again. Dust with powdered sugar, drizzle with the chocolate sauce, and serve right away. Repeat with the rest of the batter.
If you can’t serve them the moment they come out of the frying pan, you can keep them warm on a baking sheet in a low oven as you finish cooking the rest (you should garnish with powdered sugar and chocolate after removing from oven). If you have leftovers, you can freeze or refrigerate them (depending on how soon you plan to eat them), and reheat them very briefly in a skillet, adding the raspberry jam at this point.
Crêpe recipe adapted from David Lebovitz’s The Sweet Life in Paris