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Get creative with crepes
Ex-Waldorf chef shows how a little fresh fruit can jazz up thin pancakes for sweet desserts
Chef Luiz Souza slices the bananas diagonally for his crepes in order to enhance the presentation of the plate. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

Crepes with Caramelized Bananas and Chocolate Sauce


1 cup all-purpose flour

1¼ cups milk

1 egg

1 egg yolk

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 pinch of salt

Sift the flour and mix well with the milk, eggs, butter and salt. The batter should be smooth. Let the batter rest for 30 minutes.

Lightly grease a small nonstick or crepe pan and place over medium heat.

Pour one, small ladle of batter into the pan and rotate to spread as thinly as possible. Being careful not to brown the crepe, wait until it begins to lift from the edges of the pan and flip over. Cook for a few more seconds and then remove from the pan.

Caramelized Bananas

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 bananas, sliced

2 tablespoons sugar

Melt the butter in a small skillet over low heat. Sprinkle sugar over the bananas and add to the pan. Cook both sides until medium, golden brown.

Chocolate Sauce

3½ ounces dark, or semi-sweet chocolate

½ cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons sugar

Place chocolate, cream and sugar in a stainless steel bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Allow the chocolate to melt. Stir and remove from the heat. Let it cool.

To serve: Place crepes on a plate. Delicately arrange the bananas on top and around the crepes. (Optional- add a scoop of vanilla ice cream) Drizzle chocolate sauce over the crepe and serve.

Recipes courtesy of Chef Luiz Souza

Spring's arrival means more than a landscape punctuated with a rainbow of flowering buds - it also means gardens overflowing with a cornucopia of fruits and berries.

Crepes make a great vessel for serving up the spring's edible bounty, but many home cooks are afraid of attempting to make the thin pancake-like creations.

"It may seem intimidating, but even if you mess it up, you still get it right. It's still going to taste good," said Luiz Souza, a Gainesville resident and former Waldorf-Astoria chef.

The idea of making something as delicate as a crepe may seem overwhelming, but Souza says it's easy when you follow your recipe and have all of the necessary ingredients and materials laid out before you begin cooking.

One of the key steps in making quality crepes is letting the batter sit for at least 30 minutes, Souza says. While your batter rests, you can go ahead and prepare your caramelized bananas.

"You can cut the banana anyway you want, but I like to cut on an angle because I think it looks nicer for the presentation," Souza said.

After slicing, sprinkle the cut-sides of the banana with sugar to help with the caramelizing process before placing them in a pan with melted butter.

"You want them to be a light-golden brown. It really brings out the flavor," Souza said.

It's also good to knock out the chocolate sauce beforehand, too.

"Chocolate sauce is very easy to make. You can either follow the recipe, or buy a chocolate sauce ready to go from the grocery store," Souza said.

"You don't have to get fancy."

The fanciness can come in later when you're plating your dish. Drizzling your sauce over the plated dish or adding a few extra pieces of fruit can add to the visual appeal.

While many restaurants use plain white dishes, Souza says you can use whatever you have available.

"I have my way of presentation, but yours may be different," Souza said.

"White (plates are) always good, but it depends on what kind of tablecloth you have. You can use some nice china that isn't just plain white and that makes for a kind of elegant presentation."

Souza says you can buy specialty crepe pans if you wish, but you don't necessarily have to.

"Personally, if I see a good-sized pan, that's what I'm going to use," Souza said.

"Just make sure it's a nonstick pan; that's the best."

Before adding batter to your pan, you want to make sure that it is heated evenly.

"If you've never done this before, I would recommend brushing your pan very lightly with (melted) butter, so it doesn't stick," Souza said.

"But it doesn't require any type of fat, oil or butter to be in the pan."

Once you've added a ladle of batter, you should rotate the pan around in a circle to distribute the mix evenly in a thin layer.

"Don't be upset if you don't get the first one right," Souza said. "It doesn't have to be a perfect circle."

Your crepe is ready to flip when the edges begin to lift slightly from the pan.

"A little color is OK, but you really don't want it to brown," Souza said.

If bananas aren't your thing, no worries. When it comes to crepe fillings, Souza says you're only limited by your imagination.

"You can make a berry compote. You get all the berries together in a sauce pot, add some powder sugar and let it cook down," Souza said.

"All the berries are going to break down and you can use that as sauce to go on top of your crepes."

Blueberries, blackberries and raspberries are all good candidates for a compote, which is basically stewed fruit.

Another, simple idea would be to fill a crepe with fresh, sliced strawberries and top it off with whipped cream.

Although many crepe dishes are served folded over a filling, there are other ways of dishing them up.

For his banana and crepe dish, Souza laid one crepe on a plate, brushed it with chocolate sauce and layered another crepe on top. He added another brushing of chocolate before placing a few bananas on top with two scoops of ice cream and an extra drizzle of chocolate.

When it comes to making crepes, or any other dish, it's important to not try to rush the process.

"You have to take your time," Souza said.

"If you do something nice, it takes an extra mile. The final result will be much better, I guarantee you."

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