In France, buckwheat crepes are traditionally thought of as savory, but in this recipe, they skew very slightly sweet. Buckwheat crepes are one of those warm, comforting desserts that just feel right in the fall and winter, especially when paired with brown sugar, cinnamon-laced apples, and ice cream. Best part? These sweet crepes from our latest cookbook Taste & Technique are versatile, so if you don’t have time to make the apples, toffee sauce, and ice cream, you can still enjoy the crepes with maple syrup or jam.The apples alone are a quick and fancy no-bake dessert, perfect for when you’re craving something satisfying but not too complicated. You can use any kind of apple, but we particularly like crisp varieties that hold their shape when cooked, like Jonathan, Jonagold, Braeburn, Winesap, Melrose, or Granny Smith. The trick to making perfect crepes is learning to pour and swirl the batter simultaneously. As soon as you pour the batter with one hand, start tilting the pan with the other so the batter coats the entire surface. Your first few crepes may turn out thicker or more wrinkled than is ideal, but with practice, the motion will become natural. Use a lightweight pan, which will be easier to pick up and swirl the batter one-handed. There are also special crepe pans that make the motion easier.Buckwheat Crepes with Sautéed Apples and Toffee SauceIngredientsNote: You will have some leftover spice blend, which can be used in a hot toddy or sprinkled over pies and other pastries.Reprinted with permission from Taste & Technique: Recipes to Elevate Your Home Cooking by Naomi Pomeroy with Jamie Feldmar, copyright © 2016. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.
Make the crepes. Put the flours, salt, sugar, eggs, and milk into a blender and blend on high speed until combined, about 1 minute. With the machine running, slowly pour in the melted butter. For the best results, transfer the batter to an airtight container and allow it to rest in the refrigerator for 1 ½ to 2 hours before making the crepes. This allows the flour to become fully hydrated and helps develop the flavor of the crepes. Stir the batter well before cooking the crepes.
Heat an 8-inch black steel or small crêpe pan over medium heat. Using a paper towel, wipe the pan with a tiny bit of the room-temperature butter, coating it evenly with a thin layer. Using a measuring cup or a small ladle, quickly pour a 2½-inch pool of batter in the pan with one hand and simultaneously swirl the pan with the other hand to cover the bottom with a very thin layer of batter. If the pan is hot enough, the batter will immediately bubble and turn brown and lacy at the edges. It’s important for the pan to be hot, because if the batter cooks on the bottom right away, it will cling to the pan and allow you to swirl the rest around and completely coat the pan. If the pan isn’t hot enough (or if it is coated with too much butter), the batter will melt and swirl around but won’t cook quickly enough to form a thin crepe. Having a thick crêpe is okay, but your technique should improve as you work through the batter.
When the surface of the crepe starts to lose its shine and the edges turn brown and dry, use a fish spatula to flip the crepe. Cook very briefly on the second side, about 10 seconds. Transfer the crêpe to a plate and repeat with the remaining batter, stacking the crepes on top of each other; you should end up with 16 to 20 crepes. Very lightly wipe the pan with more room-temperature butter between crepes if they start sticking. The first crepe usually looks less than presentable, but they will get better as you continue pouring, swirling, and flipping. The crepes can be made up to 6 hours ahead of time and kept at room temperature, uncovered, on the plate.
Make the spice blend. Mix together all of the ingredients for the spice blend and set aside.
Make the spiced sugar. Mix together all of the ingredients for the spiced sugar and set aside.
Make the sautéed apples. Cut the apples into quarters, then notch out the core of each quarter. Cut each quarter into 4 or 5 wedges about ¼ inch thick.
Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. (You may need to cook the apples in two batches to avoid crowding the apples or they won’t caramelize correctly.) Add the butter, and when it melts, add the apples. Allow the slices to sear for a few seconds, and then stir so they’re evenly coated with butter and starting to sizzle. Let cook, undisturbed, for about 3 minutes, until they begin to color slightly.
Sprinkle the spiced sugar over the apples and stir. Let the sugar bubble and caramelize. When the sugar looks melted and the apples appear slightly softened, after about 5 minutes, remove from the heat and spread out the apples on a plate. It’s important to spread them in an even layer across a flat surface because they can overcook and lose their lovely caramelized edges if they are piled on top of one another.
Make the toffee sauce. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the vanilla bean seeds and pod half (if using vanilla extract, you’ll add it later), cream, brown sugar, and salt and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Turn down the heat to a medium simmer and cook for 10 minutes, whisking occasionally. Remove the vanilla pod half and discard; remove the saucepan from the heat. If using vanilla extract, stir it in now.
To serve, preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Fold 16 crepes into quarters, place them on the prepared baking sheet in a single layer, and brush generously and evenly with the melted butter. Bake for 2 or 3 minutes, until warmed through. Using a fine-mesh strainer, dust the confectioners’ sugar onto the warm buttered crepes. Squeeze the lemon wedges evenly across all of them. Spoon 2 to 3 tablespoons of toffee sauce on the bottom of each of 8 plates. Place 2 crepes on top of the sauce on each plate, lay a few apple slices alongside, and add a scoop of malt ice cream.