Picture a Table Covered in Confections …

I usually choose to spend New Year's Eve with a few close friends in a rather low-key manner. An early dinner in our favorite neighborhood Chinese restaurant, followed by a movie without having to stand in line, leaves us relaxed enough to welcome the New Year in a festive and frivolous mood. And what could be more elegant than returning to a gorgeously rich array of desserts and iced champagne in the comfort and coziness of one's own home?

Picture a table covered with confections — unusual crêpes filled with chocolate, fruits and luxurious creams. (If making crêpes intimidates you, think of them as unfilled blintzes cooked on one side). This is the dessert buffet of dreams for guests and host, since most of the preparation can be done ahead of time.

Pull out all the stops, and use your best china and crystal flutes. Have the champagne chilled, and an urn of coffee ready.

Get set for a sweet ending to 2008!

Basic Dessert Crêpes


11/2 cups flour
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup water
3 eggs
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla or almond extract
1/4 cup melted butter

In a blender or food processor, combine all ingredients until smooth.

Remove to a bowl.

Whisk in melted butter. Let stand at room temperature at least one hour before using.

Brush a 7-inch pan, preferably nonstick, with a bit of butter or oil. Heat until hot.

Ladle about 2 tablespoons of the crêpe batter into pan and swirl until surface is coated with batter.

Cook for 1 to 2 minutes until lightly browned, lift with fingers and cook briefly on other side.

Remove to a plate and continue until batter is used up, brushing pan with butter after every 3 crêpes.

Stack crêpes with a piece of wax paper in between each.

Place on a flat plate. Cover and refrigerate or freeze.

Bring to room temperature before filling.

Makes about 18 crêpes.

Chocolate Dessert Crêpes


1 cup flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup water
2 Tbsps. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla or almond extract
1/4 cup melted butter

Proceed as directed for basic dessert crêpes.

Chocolate Crêpes With Rum-Raisin Ice-Cream


Chocolate-Sauce Ingredients:

8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 Tbsp. instant coffee
1/4 cup water
2 Tbsps. sugar
2 Tbsps. butter
1/4 cup heavy cream

8 chocolate crêpes
1 quart rum-raisin ice-cream

To Make Sauce: Melt chocolate with coffee, water, sugar, butter and cream in a medium saucepan. This sauce may be made ahead of time and stored in covered jar in refrigerator.

Fill each crêpe with about 5 tablespoons softened of ice-cream. Roll them and store, covered, in freezer until serving time.

To assemble, heat chocolate sauce and spoon over crêpes.

Serves 6.

Strawberry Cheese-Filled Crêpes


Filling Ingredients:

8 oz. cottage cheese
1/4 lb. mascarpone cheese or cream cheese
3 Tbsps. sugar
1 Tbsp. grated orange zest
1 pint strawberries, hulled and thinly sliced

16 dessert crêpes
powdered sugar

In blender or food processor, combine filling ingredients until smooth.

Place about 2 tablespoons of filling on the center of each crêpe. Top with strawberry slices.

Fold the sides over and place in buttered baking dish, seam-side down.

Continue until crêpes and filling are used up. (These may be made ahead to this point, covered and refrigerated or frozen.)

Just before serving, sprinkle liberally with powdered sugar.

Place under broiler until sugar melts, about 6 minutes.

Serves 6.

Apricot, Wine and Honey Crêpe Torte


1 lb. dried apricots
2 cups red wine
6 Tbsps. honey
12 basic dessert crêpes
2 egg whites
5 Tbsps. powdered sugar

Cook apricots, wine and honey on low heat about 1 hour. Let cool and purée.

Meanwhile, butter a deep glass or porcelain pie dish. Lay a crêpe on bottom of dish and spread with apricot purée.

Continue alternating crêpes, and purée until you have used up all the crêpes and purée. The last crêpe should not have puree on top. (These may be made ahead and refrigerated at this point.)

Just before serving, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Slowly add sugar and beat until stiff.

Spread meringue on top of crêpe and bake in preheated 350° oven until brown, about 12 minutes.

Serves 6.

Louise Fiszer is a California cooking teacher and food writer. Among the six books she's co-authored is Jewish Holiday Feasts.



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