When it comes to dessert, I’m not particularly inventive. On the nights when it’s just my husband and me, we stick to the simple things like a nibble of chocolate or if we’re feeling particularly virtuous, sliced apple dipped in a little peanut butter. When I have more than the two of us to satisfy, I tend to gravitate toward fruit crisps or basic brownies. No one ever complains, particularly if I serve them with vanilla ice cream.
Once in a great while, however, I feel the need to up my game a little. Such is the case for an upcoming gathering of my potluck group. We’ve taken most of the summer off from getting together, as nearly every week, someone was dashing off to a distant beach town or jetting across the country to visit family. But with the start of the new school year, people are settling back down and are free for potlucking once again.
The next dinner is this weekend, and I’ve been assigned dessert. Our hostess is from Mexico and since September 15 is Mexican Independence Day, a theme has emerged. I needed something impressive and in keeping with the rest of the meal. Enter Marcela Valladolid’s Banana and Cajeta Layered Crepes. They’re dramatic, thematic and different from anything I’ve ever brought before. I made one crepe as a trial run earlier this week, to ensure that it wouldn’t be a flop for my friends. Happily, it’s delicious and fits the bill for this potluck perfectly. Next time you need a dessert that will wow folks, I highly recommend this one. It’s a bit labor-intensive, but that just makes it perfect for The Weekender.
Before you start layering your crepes, here are a few things you should know:
– This recipe can easily be broken into steps across a day or more, which will make it feel less laborious than it actually is. You can make the crepe batter and the cajeta cream a day before you plan on cooking and serving.
– With all the salted caramel desserts out there these days, I couldn’t help but add a pinch of salt to the cajeta cream to help balance the sweetness. It was a tasty addition and I highly recommend it if you like the combo of sweet and salty.
– When it comes time to make your crepes, plan on spending around an hour by the stove. It’s better to be patient with the crepe-making process than to try to rush it. Also, know that the first crepe will fail. That’s just the way it works. Don’t feel bad about it, just keep cooking.
– The crepe batter made 18 crepes, though I found that I only used 12 in the construction of the stack (more than that and I worried for its structural integrity). You can freeze these leftover crepes and use them as vehicles for disguising leftovers one night for a quick dinner.
Marisa McClellan is a food writer and canning teacher who lives in Center City Philadelphia. Find more of her food (all cooked up in her 80-square-foot kitchen) at her blog, Food in Jars. Her first cookbook, Food in Jars: Canning in Small Batches Year Round, is now available.