The beguiling simplicity of crêpes is the secret of their lasting popularity. It's a rare kitchen that doesn't yield the basic ingredients of eggs, milk, and flour. Most pantries have a suitable pan in which to make them. True, it may take a few tries to perfect your cooking technique, but to some it's child's play - I've watched a young friend barely old enough to write turn them out by the stack.
Crêpes are delectable sweet or savory; they take on endless guises and roles. On the streets of Paris, they become an elegant snack when brushed with butter and jam or chestnut purée and splashed with a little liqueur. The same or similar combinations make an exceptional breakfast. With only a few more flavors, these little cakes become the grand dame of dessert: crêpes suzette. Wrapped around something as modest as melting cheese, crêpes are a lovely way to start a meal; wrapped around a more substantial filling, they become the meal.
But not all crêpes are thin. The same ingredients also produce puffy versions. In this collection of dishes, you'll find crêpes, thick and thin, for occasions superlative to simple.
Thin crêpes, made with a batter about the consistency of whipping cream, are tender and delicate. When the egg whites are whipped and folded into a very similar batter, they contribute volume and texture that makes the crêpes puffy and thicker (see Soufflé Crêpe recipe).
The size of a crêpe is determined by the pan in which it cooks. For best results, the pan must be flat on the bottom and the batter swirled to the edge. Traditional crêpe pans, which come in many sizes, have angled, shallow sides that give the crêpe a neat round shape. A regular frying pan with curved sides also works - and those with nonstick finishes are easiest to use - but the crêpes are not always as perfectly round. To determine diameter, measure across the bottom of the inverted pan.