Almost every culture across the globe has its own version of a thin, delicate pancake. Probably the best known is the French crêpe, but there are many others, ranging from the Swedish pannkakor to the Vietnamese bánh xèo.
This version is an homage of sorts to the Hungarian palascinta. Very similar to French crepes, Hungarian palascinta are paper-thin pancakes served rolled, folded into triangles or filled, sometimes with fruit, cheese or even savory meat stuffings. Palascinta are tender, delicious and actually quite easy to make – and their batter doesn’t require the several hours of resting time typical of French crêpes. If you can make pancakes, you can make palascinta.
Cherries are very dear to Eastern European folk, especially so to Hungarians, so it’s very appropriate to serve palascinta with cherries. Cherries are an important part of Hungarian folklore and culture and the cultivation of cherries goes back for centuries. Some of the world’s finest cherries are derived from traditional Hungarian cultivars, such as the famed Balaton tart cherry, which ripens in late summer.
Every year when fresh cherry season rolls around, it’s non-stop cherry action for several weeks. Right now, we’re reveling in the abundant crop of deep, dark, intensely flavored sweet cherries, using them every way we can think of. While crêpes are often served with cherries, it’s typical to use a thickened sauce of cooked, sweetened tart cherries – something akin to a canned cherry pie filling.
Why cook fresh cherries at all when they’re at the peak of their brief season? We used fresh cherries, simply pitted and halved, then tossed with a little kirsch (cherry brandy). This allows all of the complex flavors of the fresh cherries to shine through. Sure, we’ll use frozen, canned or dried cherries this winter, but for now, it’s nothing but fresh, ripe, wine-dark sweet cherries.
Crêpes with Sweet Cherries
- 2 pounds sweet cherries
- 4 tablespoons kirsch or cherry liqueur
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar or superfine sugar (or to taste)
- 1 recipe crêpe batter (see below)
- 1 recipe crêpe filling (see below)
- 1/4 cup roasted pistachios, chopped for garnish (optional)
- chocolate, grated for garnish (optional)
- 4 large eggs
- 1-1/4 cups milk, more as needed
- pinch of salt
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon melted unsalted butter, plus more for cooking crêpes
In a bowl, whisk the eggs with 1/2 cup of the milk and the salt. Whisk in the flour until smooth, then whisk in the remaining milk and the butter; the batter should have the consistency of cream. Cover and refrigerate the batter and let it rest while you prepare the cherries and the filling (see instructions below).
Making the crêpes:
After the cherries and filling have been prepped, come back and check the consistency of the batter (it may have thickened up slightly while resting; it usually does). Whisk in a little milk to achieve the correct consistency, if necessary. Heat a heavy-bottomed, 8-inch non-stick pan over medium high heat and add a small knob of butter (about 1/2 teaspoon or so). Once the butter is melted and bubbling, pour a scant 1/4 cup of the batter into the pan.
Here’s the important part: immediately lift the pan and rotate it until the batter coats the bottom evenly. Reduce the heat slightly and cook the crêpe until it is lightly browned on the bottom and moves freely in the pan when shaken, about 30 seconds. Using a heat-proof spatula (or free-hand, if you’re feeling confident), flip the crêpe and cook the second side until brown dots appear, about 10 seconds longer. Slip the crêpe out of the pan and onto a large plate.
What you want is a very thin, delicate crêpe; if it’s too thick, use less batter for the next one, adjusting until you’ve got it just right. Don’t worry if the first couple of crêpes aren’t perfect – they seldom are. Remember, in cooking, we can almost always eat our mistakes!
Wipe the pan with a paper towel (you usually won’t have to wipe the pan again until you’re done), add another little knob of butter and do another crêpe.
Hint: Place a small square of waxed paper between each layer of crêpes to make it easier to separate them when you’re ready to use them.
Repeat with the melted butter and batter until it’s all used up. You should end up with about 18 crêpes.
Select the freshest, ripest sweet cherries you can find. Wash and pit the cherries, then slice them in half and place them into a medium bowl. Drizzle the kirsch over the cherries, toss together gently and set aside to macerate, unrefrigerated.
- 1-1/2 cups ricotta cheese
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup minced candied citron or grated zest of 1 Meyer Lemon
Put the ricotta, sugar, vanilla and minced citron into a medium bowl; stir well to combine. Cover and refrigerate.
Make the Whipped Cream:
Pour the cream into a very clean, chilled medium-sized non-reactive bowl (glass is best). Add the sugar and vanilla. You can whip the cream by hand with a traditional wire whisk, but it’s much easier with an electric hand mixer, preferably with a whisk attachment. Start out on medium speed, moving the beaters around the bowl constantly, until the cream begins to thicken, about 3 minutes. Increase the speed, continuing to move around the bowl, until the cream forms soft peaks. Put the whipped cream into the refrigerator until ready to assemble the crepes.
Using a spatula or the bottom of a large spoon, spread a couple of tablespoons of the ricotta filling on one half of a crêpe. Fold the crêpe in half, then again into a quarter. Repeat with the remaining crêpes.
Arrange the filled & folded crêpes on dessert plates, 3 or 4 per serving. Spoon some of the fresh cherries over the top, then add a dollop of whipped cream. Sprinkle with the grated chocolate and chopped pistachios, if using. Add a sprig of fresh mint and/or a whole cherry with stem, if desired, and serve.
Many of the ingredients used in this recipe, and other recipes on the Earthy Delights Blog, can be purchased online at our retail website, Earthy.com. We welcome you to visit the Earthy.com website to view our extensive selection of hard-to-find ingredients and our complete Recipe Collection of over 500 tested recipes.
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