These days I don’t wake up to an alarm; I wait for the sunlight to stream onto my face and nudge me out of bed. But this morning, no sunlight came to wake me and I slept in until tiny little raindrops made it through my open window and onto my pillow. Ignoring the awakeness that was stirring inside of me, I rolled over and tried to slide back into the sweet dream-state I had just left. It seemed the sky was having none of that, though, because only moments after the rain began, big, low, booms of thunder rolled across the sky like God’s stomach growling with hunger. It made me realize I was hungry too… and if there’s anything that can get me out of bed on those mornings when I want to sleep forever, hunger can. I suppose my love for food runs that deep.
With the peaches just starting to ripen, and me being overly excited about it, I had a whole basketful of the fuzzy little fruits sitting on my counter to inspire me as I entered the kitchen. It didn’t take more than a moment to decide that they were destined to be in crepes, but then my mind wandered to the yard, the garden, and the orchard. What else is out there, that needs to come into my kitchen? And on a gloomy, gray day like this one, the answer had to be mint. I grew up drinking many herbal teas, but by far the most common was mint. It was probably due to the fact that it was nearly always growing somewhere around the yard. But even if it was wintertime, there were always dried leaves tucked away in the spice cupboard. Whether it’s the nostalgia of the flavor, or power of association through always drinking it when I need a mood-boost, mint is the ultimate comforting flavor for me.
I pulled on my rubber boots and traveled out to the sopping little raised bed of herbs and realized that nearly all of the mint was starting to flower– I guess it was destiny. The universe knew the mint needed harvesting. I cut what I could before the rain pushed me back inside and I wondered what to do to incorporate it. My first thought was to just slice up the peaches and give them a toss in some butter and brown sugar and throw the mint in the skillet with them. But then I remembered the half-pint of cream left in the fridge and had the idea to infuse it. I figured I would just heat the cream a bit and let the leaves steep in there for a while. I’ll be honest with you though, I had no idea if it would work. I’d never tried to whip cream after heating it before, and I didn’t know how long to heat it or how long it would need to chill before I could whip it, and I wasn’t even sure if it would whip at all! I’ll give you a hint though, it was a success! A really, really tasty success.
Because I knew the cream would need to chill, I started the infusion before anything else. I have a tea ball that I ripped the leaves into, but I think if I do this again (I’m sure I will, it was amazing!), I’ll just mix the torn-up leaves straight in with the cream and strain them out after to achieve a more full flavor. Also, the latter method might be necessary for you if you’re using a smaller amount of cream or using a bigger pan. A tea ball doesn’t work too well when you only have a centimeter of liquid. Another thing to keep in mind is that if the cream isn’t simmering and goes unstirred, a skin will form. To avoid that, just make sure you’re giving it a good stir every minute or two. Also, you want to avoid scorching the cream, so you need to keep an eye on it anyway– make sure it doesn’t come to a boil. I used about three 8″ sprigs of mint leaves in 1 cup of cream and heated it just under the simmering point for about fifteen minutes and then let it cool with the leaves in for another fifteen before chilling it. You can obviously adjust the amount of mint for a stronger or more mild flavor, and that goes for the sugar as well. I don’t like my cream to be too sweet, as I put sugar in the peaches, but adjust to your taste.
Once that was all done and in the fridge, I made a basic crepe batter. Oftentimes, I’ll add little flavorings or spices or fun things into the batter to make it more exciting, but today I wanted to keep it simple. Something to note though, is that I like my crepes to be quite thin, so my batter recipe calls for a higher liquid/dry ratio. The downside of this is that you usually get crispy edges, which some people don’t like. However, that’s one of my favorite parts! So it’s all a matter of preference. If you want a thicker crepe, just start with a smaller amount of liquid (milk, almond milk, water, whatever you’re using) and add a bit at a time to get your desired thickness. I usually do a couple of “tester” crepes at the beginning to make sure my batter thickness is where I want it to be, as well as the pan’s heat and the level of greasiness on the pan. I always grease my cast iron with butter while making crepes, because I cannot resist butter. I just can’t. And my affinity for it usually leads to me putting way too much in at first, even though I know better. The first crepe almost always resembles something more deep-fried than not.
Another thing that is just a matter of preference is peach skin. If I’m just biting into a peach, the skin doesn’t bother me at all, but in a crepe… well, it’s just not the same. The skin would throw me off a bit. So I plopped my peaches in boiling water for about fifteen seconds and then transferred them to an ice bath. If you’ve never used this little trick before, you’re welcome! It makes the skin slide right off. My years of peach canning have made me a pretty quick peeler (someone give me a gold star, please), but if you haven’t done it before, take your time. Those things can be slippery and you don’t want to cut yourself! When you do have your slices, I like to sprinkle mine with a little lemon juice to keep them from browning too fast, and a little sugar to combat the sourness.
Then, when you have everything tasting how you want it, dish up! One of my favorite things about crepes is the flexibility in plating. I went for a more simple look, but feel free to stack, fold, roll, or slice to your heart’s desire.
Peach Crepes with Mint-Infused Cream
For the cream:
1 c. heavy cream
2-4 8in. sprigs of fresh mint
1 T finely ground sugar
For the crepe batter:
1.5 c. white flour*
1 T sugar
.5 t baking powder
2.5 c. milk (you can use a portion water or almond milk, I use half almond half dairy)
3 T melted butter
pinch of salt
splash of vanilla
butter for pan
1 T lemon juice
2 T coarse-ground sugar
Cinnamon, if desired
In a small saucepan, bring the cream almost to a simmer on low heat. Add the mint leaves loose or in a tea ball and stir occasionally for fifteen minutes. Make sure the cream does not boil, and I also recommend tasting it every few minutes to make sure that the mint flavor doesn’t become too strong for your tastes. After fifteen minutes, remove from heat and let cool for another fifteen minutes, still stirring occasionally to avoid a skin forming. Cover and chill.
Place all crepe batter in a blender and pulse until smooth. It helps to add liquids first. You can also mix it in a bowl and whisk until smooth– it just takes longer. The batter can be refrigerated at this point if desired (chilling batter for at least one hour gives time for bubbles to reduce and helps crepes to not tear, but I rarely follow this step as I am very impatient). Heat skillet or crepe pan and grease with butter. Using about 1/3 c. at a time, pour batter into skillet and rotate skillet to fully coat the bottom. Cook for about a minute on the first side or until the top is a bit dry to the touch. Edge spatula around crepe edge and turn. Cook about thirty seconds on other side.
If your batter is quite thin, the edges may become crisp. Stacking and covering the crepes as you cook them can retain moisture and help to soften the edges.
Cover and set aside cooked crepes and bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. As you do this, fill a bowl with ice water. Submerge peaches into boiling water for 10-15 seconds and then immediately submerge them into the ice water. The skin should practically slide off if the peaches are ripe. Slice peeled and pitted peaches and sprinkle them with sugar and lemon juice. Set aside.
In another bowl, pour chilled cream and beat (with had mixer or stand mixer) until very soft peaks form slowly add sugar and continue to beat until soft peaks form. If you want stiff peaks, you can continue to beat for another minute, but I like mine soft.
Fill crepes with peaches and top with whipped cream and cinnamon, if desired. Enjoy!
*Substituting a portion of wheat flour can be done, but will result in chewier crepes and they may be more susceptible to tearing.