The earthy-nuttiness of the hazelnut-buckwheat crepe balances nicely with the sweetness of the pear-ginger compote; creme fraiche adds a rich, creamy tang. You could substitute whipped cream, marscapone cheese, or vanilla ice cream for the creme fraiche, for a sweeter dessert. Or, chevre would go well with it, too, for a dessert-meets-cheese-course dish. The hazelnut-buckwheat crepe recipe is adapted from the recipe for Pate A Crepes in "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" by Julia Child. —KTC
pears, firm but ripe
Juice from one lemon
Juice from one orange
2-3 strips lemon zest
2-3 strips orange zest
vanilla bean, split lengthwise, beans scraped from pod
cup white wine, such as Moscato (or a dry wine will work, too)
With a swivel peeler, peel skins off pears. Remove stems and cut in half. Cut each half into four even wedges; remove seeds and tough interior with a paring knife. Add to 2.5 quart sauce pan.
Using a swivel peeler, remove zest strips from orange and lemon; juice lemon and orange. Add lemon and orange juice and zest strips, honey, sugar, vanilla beans and pod pieces, white wine, and ginger pieces to pan. Add one cup water (plus extra, if needed, in order to just cover the pears).
Bring to a boil; allow to boil for just a few minutes. Turn down heat and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, or until pears are easily pierced with a sharp knife but not falling apart.
With a slotted spoon, remove pear slices from ginger syrup and set aside.
Turn up heat, bring syrup to a boil, stirring occasionally, until it's reduced to about 1.5 cups golden, thick syrup. Pour juices released by cooling pear pieces into the syrup as you cook it.
Remove ginger pieces, vanilla bean pieces, and lemon and orange zest strips from syrup. Add pears to syrup.
Keep pear-syrup mixture on low heat if you plan to serve immediately. Otherwise, cover and refrigerate; reheat when you're ready to use it.
Place water, milk, eggs, sugar, salt, and buckwheat and white flour into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (alternatively, you can use a hand mixer or a whisk and mix by hand).
Mix on high (or vigorously, if by hand) for a few minutes until all ingredients are fully incorporated and batter is smooth. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours.
Put hazelnuts onto a cookie sheet and into an oven preheated to 350 degrees. Roast them for 10 minutes (or, until skins start to pull away from the nuts and they turn golden). Remove the hazelnuts from the oven, wrap them in a clean kitchen towel, set aside for a few minutes to steam, then rub vigorously using the towel to remove as much of the skin as possible.
Divide hazelnuts into two even batches. Place one batch onto a clean plate; place a second plate on top of the hazelnuts and press down firmly a few times to crack the nuts into large pieces. Set aside to use as a garnish.
Repeat the above step with the second batch of hazelnuts then place the roughly cracked pieces onto a clean cutting board and chop them into fine pieces, about the size of Grapenuts. (Alternatively, you could chop them in a food processor, pulsing until you get the desired result, being careful not to overchop them into a paste). Set finely chopped hazelnuts aside.
When you're ready to cook the crepes, bring the batter to room temperature. Check the consistency of the batter--it should just coat the back of a spoon, like a heavy cream. Add water a little bit at a time if you need to thin the batter, then stir in the finely chopped hazelnuts (it's best to add the hazelnuts just before you cook the crepes, otherwise, if they sit in the batter, they will get soggy). Heat a 6-inch nonstick skillet over high heat, add a dab of butter (enough to thinly coat the bottom of the pan), lift the pan from the heat, and pour 1/4 cup batter into the center of the bottom of the pan as you quickly swirl it around to spread the batter evenly.
Return the pan to the heat. As it cooks through, gently peel it from the pan with a rubber spatula; flip the crepe with the spatula or your fingers and cook it on the second side until light golden brown. Repeat until all crepes have been cooked (stir the batter before you ladle the batter for each crepe, since hazelnuts may settle to the bottom of your bowl).
To assemble, fold the crepes in half, then in half again. Place one or two on a plate. Top with 8 or so pear pieces; spoon ginger syrup over the top. Add a dollop of creme fraiche. Sprinkle coarsely chopped hazelnuts on top.