When I was in school a few years ago, one of my favorite desserts we made that took me completely by surprise was a ricotta pie topped with a tangle of candied kumquats. It was that perfect balance of sweet and well, not so sweet, for me. So when I taught a crepe - making class last winter I decided to turn it into a crepe. It's since gone through a few different permutations, and this is my favorite. The kumquats are simmered in a mixture of Lillet, honey, agave nectar, cardamom seeds and cinnamon, and perfectly set off the crepe and its ricotta orange filling. Everything can be made in advance and assembled minutes before serving. But remember to interleave the crepes with wax paper or parchment so they don't stick together, and just reheat the Lillet Kumquat Sauce before spooning over the crepes. —TheWimpyVegetarian
Test Kitchen Notes
WHO: ChezSuzanne is based in the Bay Area and enjoys her "second career" as a cooking teacher after a lifelong love of cooking, growing, and eating food.
WHAT: Delicate crepes stuffed with ricotta cream and topped with a complex compote that's as easy as simmering with sliced kumquat.
HOW: The crepe batter is a breeze -- you just blend it! And there's no fussy plating, since ChezSuzanne has us simply fold the filling into packages before finishing with a drizzle of syrup.
WHY WE LOVE IT: The creamy ricotta-orange filling contrasts beautifully with the nutty crepes and the herbal notes of the Lillet-kumquat compote. Plus, you can cook everything ahead of time and assemble the pillows just before serving -- now that's smart. —The Editors
8 crepe shells; filling and compote for 4
(4.5 ounces) all-purpose flour
Ricotta Filling and Lillet Kumquat Compote
ricotta cheese, well drained
softened cream cheese or mascarpone cheese
Zest of half of an orange
candied ginger, minced
seeds from 6 cardamom pods, crushed with a mortar and pestle
kumquats, thinly sliced and seeded
In This Recipe
Using either a blender or whisk, combine the flour, sugar and salt. Add the egg; if using a whisk, make a well and place the egg in it. Whisk the egg and flour mixture together.
Add half of the milk and mix / whisk until a thick batter forms. Add the remaining milk, the warm water, zest, and vanilla extract. Mix / whisk until the batter is completely smooth. Mix / whisk in the melted butter.
Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour, preferably longer (up to 24 hours).
Remove from the refrigerator, and whisk the batter if it has separated. Heat a non-stick pan with sloping sides over medium heat. Coat the pan lightly with butter or with a paper towel dipped lightly in oil.
When the pan is hot, pour in a small amount of batter using a measuring cup or ladle. Use 1/8 cup of batter for a 6 - 7” pan or ¼ cup of batter for a 9 – 10” pan. Immediately start to tilt the pan to allow the batter to cover the bottom of the pan evenly in a thin layer.
Cook for about 1 minute, or until the crepe bottom turns a golden brown. Flip and cook for another 30 seconds, until the crepe is golden on the second side.
Remove the crepe from the pan to a plate. If stacking crepes for longer than an hour, interleave crepes with parchment or wax paper, slip into a ziplock and refrigerate. Crepes also freeze great!
Lay a crepe out and spoon 1 1/2 tablespoons Ricotta Filling into the middle, molding it into a flat square. Fold the right side of the crepe over the filling; fold the left side over the filling, laying it on top of the first side that was folded over. Fold up the bottom, and the top down, forming a little packet. Repeat for the rest. Place on plates and spoon the Lillet Kumquat Compote over the little crepe packets / pillows.
Take a sip of Lillet. And then another. And try to say Lillet Kumquat Compote fast 3 times in a row....Kidding :-) If you can do it even once, you're a better woman than I.
Ricotta Filling and Lillet Kumquat Compote
Make the Ricotta Filling: Combine the first 6 ingredients (through the orange zest) in a small bowl and mix well.
Make the Lillet Kumquat Compote: Combine the remaining ingredients except the kumquats together in a small saucepan, and bring to a simmer. Add the sliced kumquats and continue to simmer for 30 minutes, or until the kumquats are softened translucent.