Desserts: Filled with variety

Published in FSD Update

Crêpe’s versatility makes for a customer-favorite sweet treat.

Looking for a lucrative menu addition that thrives on variety? Consider crêpes, thin French pancakes that flourish with a range of fillings. Robert Landolphi, manager of culinary development at the University of Connecticut, in Storrs, offers nearly a dozen varieties, like Southwestern chicken, cordon bleu, Italian s’mores, and cinnamon, sugar and bananas. UConn offers crêpes for lunch, dinner, dessert and even snacks. “Crêpes are fun to eat, our customers rave about the selections and they’re very profitable,” Landolphi says.

Richard Curtis, director of food and nutrition at Thibodaux Regional Medical Center, in Louisiana, uses crêpes as a lighter option to keep with the hospital’s health and wellness initiatives. Curtis offers a variety of fruit and yogurt crêpes, sometimes for breakfast, alongside savory crêpes filled with items like crabmeat and shrimp. “Crêpes are easy to work with due to their size and texture,” Curtis says.

Crêpes are also simple to make. Mark Moser, nutritional services manager at UVA-HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital, in Charlottesville, Va., has come up with an all-purpose recipe that “can be used for everything from entrées to desserts, plus they’re pliable, stack well, don’t tear easily, can be cut very easily with a fork and hold up well for later same-day filling.” His secret: more egg makes the crêpe fuller bodied and pliable, rather than paper thin and rigid.

Prepping points

To keep up with demand and minimize wait time, Landolphi makes his crêpes in advance, filling and heating them to order. But some operators recommend using only fresh crêpes. “Crêpes are much like pasta: There are a thousand different ways to go and they’re best used the same day,” says Moser, who admittedly makes crêpes in advance for high-volume orders. “Certainly, crêpes can be made and even frozen, but I think there is too much lost in texture and taste.”

If you go the fresh route, batter consistency and temperature are paramount, Curtis says. “The range or griddle must be level, and the batter should be at room temperature.” Experiment until you find the sweet spot and train your staff well. When filling the crêpes, size is important. “Ingredients should be cut small; be careful not to overfill the crêpe or it will break,” Landolphi adds.

It can be tempting to set up self-service crêpe stations, but operators agree it’s not a great idea. “Due to the delicate nature of a crêpe, we prepare and serve crêpes to our guests ourselves,” Curtis says.

Similarly Landolphi’s staff handles all prep and cooking, filling crêpes to order in front of customers at an action station. “They love watching us fill the crêpes with fresh, local ingredients, fold them up into a pocket and drizzle or sprinkle different toppings over the top. It makes them feel like their personal French chef just prepared them a special treat.”

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menu development