From America's Test Kitchen Season 7: Flambé at Home
Classic French restaurants have mastered the fiery theatrics of this tableside treat—a sophisticated combination of crêpes, oranges, liqueur, and a showy flambé. We wanted to develop a recipe that would comfortably guide the home cook through the flambé process so this dessert could be prepared for an elegant dinner party.
For a foolproof flambé that didn’t create a frightening fireball or, conversely, didn’t burn at all, we ignited the alcohol (cognac) alone in the skillet before building the sauce. To build a delicate sauce with complex flavor, we enriched a reduction of butter, sugar, and fresh orange juice with additional orange juice, fresh orange zest, and triple sec (not the pricier Grand Marnier or Cointreau). For tender but sturdy crêpes that would stand up to the sauce without turning soggy, we skipped the usual resting of the batter, meant to relax the gluten, before cooking. Then, once the crêpes were cooked, we sprinkled them with sugar and ran them under the broiler for a sweet and crunchy coating.
It takes a few crêpes to get the heat of the pan right; your first two or three will almost inevitably be unusable. (To allow for practice, the recipe yields about 16 crepes; only 12 are needed for the dish.) A dry measuring cup with a 1/4-cup capacity is useful for portioning the batter. Tasters had a slight preference for crêpes made with whole milk, but low-fat or skim milk can also be used.