And there in the middle, above Prechistensky Boulevard, surrounded and sprinkled on all sides by sugar, shines the Crepe Cornet of 2017, the Brilliant Cornet of 2017!
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Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812 is currently taking Broadway by storm. It is an adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace (Volume 2, Part 5, to be precise). The music is an amazing mix of Russian Folk, Classic, Indie, Electronic. The show opens with a number which introduces you to all the characters, both principal and minor. On Broadway, it is being presented such that there is audience sat onstage, and the action moves around the theatre on all levels. It is beautifully designed, with luscious banquettes and cabaret-style tables, and an exquisite costuming to suit the era and portrayal of releases into more modern/edgy costumes. It is a really immersive piece of theatre, indeed at points the audience is asked to provide the percussion for a number. The show takes us through many emotions having first formed connections with the characters through their ups and downs.
Natasha Rostova arrives in Moscow to await her new fiancé at her godmother’s house in 1812, but falls in with the more decadent aspects of society where she meets and is eventually seduced by Anatole, a roguish young officer (after whom Nutella was probably not named). Meanwhile, Pierre is having an existential crisis (and is possibly wondering if Napoleon’s advancing armies will bring with them the recipe for a decent crèpe) and, having had a moment of enlightenment, has a vision of an epic dessert which he conceives as Nutella, Pear and the Crèpe Cornet! Honestly, that’s the plot… which leads me nicely to the recipe bit, as devised by Tolstoy’s Mama and handed down across the generations.
For the candied pear slices, I used the recipe from Adventuressheart.com which was very straightforward. You will need a mandoline to get the thin pear slices, unless you’re really steady with a sharp knife, and be careful not to singe your slices if you’re using the faster method at a higher temperature, as I did. One pear will give you more than enough slices to decorate your dessert – and leftovers for snacking.
Make your crèpe batter in advance as it needs to rest for at least an hour. Add the eggs and milk to the flour and salt and give it a good whisk – don’t worry, the lumps will all come out (I don’t even bother sieving the flour, I’m that rebellious). Melt the butter and allow it to cool a little and whisk this in to the batter.
For the poached pears, dissolve the sugar and water in a pan, bringing it to the boil. Add the flavourings and peeled pears and simmer for 20-45 minutes, depending on the ripeness of the pears, until tender. Set the pears aside and keep warm. Meanwhile, boil the remaining liquid until it turns syrupy. I added a squirt of lemon juice at the end to turn down the sweetness slightly.
I’ve been wanting to make my own Nutella for ages – a lifelong favourite, but has had a bit of a bad press lately due to all the additives. As much as I love the stuff, I only wanted a small quantity, so decided to use some shop-bought hazelnut butter instead of blitzing up a massive bag of hazelnuts. Hazelnut butter is probably an expensive route to go down if you want to make a large quantity but, as a quick fix, worked really well. Mix the hazelnut butter, cocoa powder and maple syrup in a bowl – and you’re done. As I wanted to pipe some of it and wanted it a bit runnier, I rested the bowl inside a larger one containing some recently boiled water for a minute or two before spooning some into a disposable piping bag (no need for a piping nozzle, just cut a really small hole off the tip and you’re done). Of course, don’t let me stop you making a larger quantity!
Once all your elements are lined up and ready to go, you can go ahead and make your crepes. I use a small aluminium pan that you need to prove (by heating up some sunflower or vegetable oil to a high temperature) but non-stick is fine. Do a slightly thicker test pancake first to check your pan is ready. Between each pancake pour the oil back in the pan to reheat quickly and then pour all but a drop into a heat-proof jug. Swirl in enough batter to coat the hot pan and, once it has set, flip to cook the other side!
Fill your crepe with vanilla ice-cream (you could make your own, following the method I used in Affogato Get A Gimmick – or just buy some!) and roll into a cornet shape. Decorate with the chocolate sauce, icing sugar and candied pear slices. Serve along side the warm poached pear drizzled with the vanilla syrup. A truly epic dessert!
PS Don’t throw away the syrup – It will keep in the fridge quite happily for a week or so, so add it to other desserts or even a cocktail. Any leftover crèpes (as if) can be reheated for a second round the next day!