Sunday, May 11, 2014

Chocolate Crepes with Honey Ricotta and Macerated Berries

One thing you'll learn about me is that I'm a huge Francophile.  That is, I love all things French--their food, their art, their language, their berets--I'm really into it.  It follows then, that I love crepes, and I jump at any opportunity to make them.  So when Naomi's parents came to visit us last weekend we found the perfect excuse to try out a chocolate crepe recipe from one of my cookbooks.

As much as I'm into crepes, I'm also deeply interested in cheese-making and I thought it would be fun to show her dad (who immigrated from Italy) how easy it is to make his homeland's famous fresh ricotta. All you need is milk, lemon juice and cheesecloth and you'll never want to eat store-bought ricotta again.  Flavor your fresh-made ricotta with a little honey and you've got something really amazing.

To complete this dish, we thawed out some frozen raspberries and blueberries from CSA's past and mixed them up with a little bit of sugar to create a tart berry jam.  In one fell swoop I managed to indulge my passion for crepes, make an unforgettable breakfast and score major points with the in-laws.

Making Ricotta:
prep time: 5 minutes
cook time: 30 minutes

  • 1 gallon whole milk. Preferably raw and unpasteurized.
  • 1 quart of heavy cream, or half and half (optional, the cream will make the ricotta richer)
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice or 1 Tbl citric acid powder
  • 1 Tbl salt
  • In a 6-quart stock pot, whisk together milk, cream, salt and lemon juice. Put on low heat.
  • Slowly bring the milk to about 190 degrees Fahrenheit over 30 minutes, whisking frequently to prevent scorching. A thermometer is helpful here, but not necessary; just don't let the milk boil.
  • As the milk reaches 190 degrees, it will begin to curdle.  That is, solids (called curds) will begin to form. When this happens, remove from heat, cover the pot and let stand for 10 minutes.
  • Simply skim the curds from the milk and transfer to a colander lined with cheesecloth.
  • Let dry for 30 minutes to 1 hour.  The longer the ricotta drains in the colander the tighter it will become.

Chocolate Crepes:
prep time: 10 minutes
cook time: 20 minutes

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup 10x powdered sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 eggs

  • Combine flour, cocoa powder, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl.  In a separate bowl whisk together the eggs and milk.
  • Using an immersion blender or a whisk, slowly incorporate the milk and eggs into the dry ingredients.  The resulting batter should have the consistency of heavy cream.
  • Heat a 10 inch saute pan on medium heat and brush with melted butter or olive oil. 
  • When the pan is hot, ladle the crepe batter into the center.  Tilt and rotate the pan to spread the batter thinly across the entire surface.
  • After about a minute, when bubbles begin to form in the batter, gently flip the crepe with a spatula.  The other side will cook instantly when it hits the pan.
  • Transfer the crepe to a plate and repeat until all the batter is used.  The crepes won't stick together so you can pile them on one another.
  • Spread the ricotta on the finished crepes.  Roll them, fold them or sandwich them and top with berries.

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