Many people consider Crêpes Suzette to be the Queen of Retro Desserts, such is its longevity and popularity. It is a dessert that has stood the test of time and is just as much about preparation as it is about taste.
Crêpes Suzette was first introduced to the world by the French, back in the late 19th century, by a chef who supposedly discovered the recipe by accident. A certain Henri Charpentier in Paris was preparing a dessert for British royalty, but accidentally let the cordials catch light by a rogue flame on a nearby stove. The flame burned the pancakes, but Charpentier had no time left to make anything else, so had to hand the now burnt pancakes over to his royal patrons. Incredibly, his guests – including the future British King – loved the taste of Crêpes Suzette, although at that time it was actually known as Crêpes Princesse (an idea from the future King led to the dessert’s name being changed).
The crepe itself is fairly standard, but what makes Crêpes Suzette so unique is its sauce, which consists of caramelised sugar and butter, orange juice, zest, and Gran Marnier liquor. To add the final touch, the crepe is served flambé either in the kitchen or tableside to make a fanciful and ‘hands-on’ dining experience. It seems that most upmarket restaurants in France (and in the rest of the world) pride themselves on acquiring the flambé texture at your dining table, and I think this is certainly the best way to enjoy this sweet dessert.
The French certainly have some amazing desserts, including profiteroles, clafoutis, and tarte tatin, but there is something so visually appealing (and mouth-watering) about Crêpes Suzette. I think it must be the syrupy and orangey liquor that coats the crepe that gives it a unique aroma, and sometimes this dessert is also served with ice cream and fresh fruit, which just adds to the appeal.
In the Age of Instagram, Crêpes Suzette will no doubt continue to be the Queen of Retro and in fact a whole new generation will become aware of its sweet taste and visually-appealing presentation!