Crêpes Suzette is a French dessert, consisting of a crêpe filled with a hot sauce of caramelized sugar, orange juice, lightly grated orange peel, flambéed with Grand Marnier or Cointreau. Crêpes in general are very thin pancakes made from wheat flour by pouring a thin liquid batter onto a hot frying pan with a trace of butter on the pan's surface. Crêpes originate from Brittany in northwest France, but similar pancakes are also eaten throughout Europe in Austria and Bavaria (Palatschinken); Bosnia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Albania, Slovakia and the Czech Republic (palačinky); Poland (naleśniki), Hungary (palacsinta) and elsewhere.
The recipe was invented sometime in the late 19th century. One source says it was invented by accident in 1895 at the Café de Paris in Monte Carlo. A fourteen year-old assistant waiter named Henri Carpentier was preparing a dessert for the Prince of Wales, the future King Edward VII of England. Charpentier wrote in hi own words in "Life A La Henri – Being The Memories of Henri Charpentier":
"It was quite by accident as I worked in front of a chafing dish that the cordials caught fire. I thought I was ruined. The Prince and his friends were waiting. How could I begin all over? I tasted it. It was, I thought, the most delicious melody of sweet flavors I had every tasted. I still think so. That accident of the flame was precisely what was needed to bring all those various instruments into one harmony of taste . . . He ate the pancakes with a fork; but he used a spoon to capture the remaining syrup. He asked me the name of that which he had eaten with so much relish. I told him it was to be called Crepes Princesse. He recognized that the pancake controlled the gender and that this was a compliment designed for him; but he protested with mock ferocity that there was a lady present. She was alert and rose to her feet and holding her little shirt wide with her hands she made him a curtsey. ‘Will you,’ said His Majesty, ‘change Crepes Princesse to Crepes Suzette?’ Thus was born and baptized this confection, one taste of which, I really believe, would reform a cannibal into a civilized gentleman. The next day I received a present from the Prince, a jeweled ring, a panama hat and a cane."Another theory attributes it to Oscar Tschirky, the maître d'hôtel at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in Manhattan, who published a recipe for "Pancakes, Casino Style" that is identical except the final flambée. Yet another story says that the dish was a specialty at the Parisian restaurant Marie's by 1989.
Last updated: October 12, 2010