“This jasmine in the July night is a song for two strangers who meet on a street leading nowhere. Who am I after your two almond eyes? the male stranger asks. Who am I after your exile in me? the female stranger asks. Well then, let us not stir the salt of ancient seas in a remembering body. She was re-creating his warm flesh, and he, hers.” – Mahmoud Darwish, “Night That Overflows My Body.”
Straight up, Happy New Year! I’m here with a new recipe for Brown Butter Rye Crêpes with Whipped Chesnut Créme and mixed musings on meaning, intentions and fresh starts. So much occurred this year past, none the least of which was able to be foreseen – pure and achingly beautiful in life’s manifold unreliability and without fail uncharted timeline. And that’s the perfect part. Being able to live a life that’s in constant contention with the everyday.
I would say that I look forward to the arrival of the New Year more than Christmas or any holiday. It’s ripe and laden with thwarted longing to change the world in which we live – the promise of something new, someone new. It’s romantic, this bestial brilliant pull towards something better. The kind of thing that ellipses all rational and mental thought, even for just a few hours. I don’t celebrate, not in the forlorn traditional sense. You know, the sequins, the glitter, the staggering heels, the crowds, illuminated hysteria under the influence of several searching for human connection. I mean, try keeping me awake for longer than 10 pm. Please, try. I’ll forever choose to sleep through the eve and wake up fresh, early. As much as I love the night, sleep has become something so coveted and precious, that I now choose to make time for. The ability to drift is fine ether and gold. Or, whatever’s worth your weight.
We rise, we do a good breakfast, we set our intentions for the year yet to transpire. Resolutions are constructions I almost too frequently make, though, I’m yet to see the existential ones through. On a subconscious level, perhaps. I’ve always struggled with the notion that something so complete and utterly dateless can be tied to a specific date. Though, I look back and see all the things I ever resolved for, have eventuated. Never when I consciously wanted, but when I desperately needed.
Intentions are where it’s at. I have a few to guide me through this year. I won’t share each full-hearted abstraction, but what I will say, is that I intend to refine my body of work, chip at it frequently and with less judgement. Something I’ve never been good at. My thoughts surrounding my art are like a spiralling atomic cloud. Not a passion any longer, but a hunger. A devouring hunger.
So, let’s get onto these Brown Butter Rye Crêpes with Whipped Chestnut Créme. It’s a combination that just works, the nuttiness of butter that’s coloured to a deep golden amber char. Rye, wholesome and meaty, if you will. A hint of Vanilla and chestnut, that brings smooth and luxurious notes of earthen wood. These crêpes, are something I’ll always make time for and forever look forward too. It gives me some kind of narrative to create and motive to get out of bed, to completely forget about the kind of usual breakfasts that so often inhabit my daily life.
Brown Butter Rye Crêpes with Whipped Chesnut Créme are perfect for a New Years breakfast, weekend breakfast, weekday breakfast, whatever. You can make it as is, or forgo the Whipped Chestnut Créme and even rye flour (substituting all-purpose flour) if you don’t have it on hand. I’ve even been thinking about turning the Brown Butter Rye Crêpes and Whipped Chesnut Créme filling into a cake too. So, Happy New Year! May it be filled with health and happiness, and if that’s not possible, good breakfasts and even better crêpes.
BROWN BUTTER RYE CRÊPES WITH WHIPPED CHESTNUT CRÉME
120 grams unsalted butter, cut into cubes
400 millilitres whole milk
2 large eggs + 3 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla bean extract + seeds from 1 vanilla bean pod
80 grams rye flour
80 grams all-purpose flour
70 grams confectioners’ (icing) sugar, plus more for serving
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Neutral oil (or butter), for frying
Place the butter in a medium sized saucepan set over medium heat. Heat, stirring often, until the butter is golden and melted. The butter will begin to foam but should subside as it continues to cook. Increase the heat to medium-high, and continue to cook, swirling the pan occasionally but not stirring, until the butter is nutty in fragrance and is beginning to turn a deep brown. Some solids should also form at the bottom of the saucepan. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, place the milk, eggs, egg yolks, vanilla bean extract and seeds in a large mixing bowl. Stir with a whisk until well combined.
In a separate medium sized mixing bowl, stir together the rye flour, all-purpose flour, confectioners’ sugar and salt.
Place a sieve over the large mixing bowl with the liquid ingredients. Sift over the dry ingredients then stir with a whisk to combine until incorporated. Pour in the slightly cooled brown butter and whisk until smooth and well combined.
Place the sieve over a separate large mixing bowl and strain through the crêpe batter, using the back of a wooden spoon to press out any remaining lumps. Give the batter a gentle stir then cover it with a layer of plastic wrap and place the bowl in the refrigerator to chill for at least 1 hour, but preferably overnight.
The next morning, remove the bowl from the refrigerator and set it out on the counter. Place a crêpe pan or 20 cm (8 inch) non-stick frying pan over medium-low heat. Brush the pan with a little neutral oil to coat and let it sit for a few minutes to heat.
Ladle in about 1/3 cup of the crêpe batter into the pan. Immediately pick the pan up and off the heat, and swirl it around to create a thin circular layer of batter. Place it back on the heat and continue to cook the crêpe until the bottom is set and is beginning to brown slightly, about 2 minutes. The center of the crêpe should begin to bubble when it is ready to flip. Use a spatula to carefully flip the crêpe over and fry until it is just beginning to turn brown, about 1 minute.
Tilt the pan and work the spatula under the crêpe to carefully coax it out of the pan and onto a plate. When stacking the crêpes onto the plate, stick a little square of parchment paper or plastic wrap between each crêpe to prevent them from sticking. Set aside whilst you continue with the remaining batter, brushing the pan with oil as needed and adjusting the temperature as necessary. Serve the Brown Butter Rye Crêpes warm, or at room temperature with a generous spread of the Whipped Chestnut Créme and dusting of extra confectioner’s sugar, if desired.
250 grams chestnut purée
5 tablespoons confectioners’ (icing) sugar
seeds from 1 vanilla bean pod
1 teaspoon brandy, optional
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
300 millilitres heavy cream
While the crêpes cool, make the whipped chestnut créme. Place the chestnut purée, confectioners’ sugar, seeds from a vanilla bean pod, brandy and nutmeg in a medium sized mixing bowl and beat until smooth and combined. Next, place the cream in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and whisk on medium speed, until it reaches soft peaks. Be careful not to over whisk. Using a rubber spatula, fold the cream into the chestnut mixture until smooth and evenly combined. Place in the refrigerator to chill until ready to serve.