MASCARPONE & RICOTTA CREPES WITH RUM-STEEPED STRAWBERRIES
These pancakes are — without wishing to offend Italians — what we think of as French-style crêpes. For our purposes here, though, they are Italian-style crespelle. Be that as it may, as a quick dinner-party dessert, I buy them ready made, to be turned easily into parcels, filled with mascarpone and ricotta, flavored with lemon, vanilla, and rum; once baked, these taste like soft, cheesecake-stuffed crêpes.
The rum-soused confetti of strawberries that I dollop on top echoes the fruit toppings of retro cheesecakes; more important, the liqueur-heightened brightness of the berries undercuts the richness of the filling. One parcel per person would probably be fine, portion-wise, but I work on the principle that half those eating might have seconds. You could easily give each person two apiece if you preferred or, conversely, stretch them out to feed more if need be. Once cooked, they set and cut well, so you could even slice them into sticks or smaller squares.
Serves 4 to 6 (makes 8 crêpes) for the strawberries
1 pound strawberries
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons rum for the filled crêpes
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon rum, plus 1 teaspoon
8 ounces mascarpone, at room temperature
8 ounces ricotta, at room temperature
1⁄4 cup super fine sugar
zest 1 unwaxed lemon
1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 crêpes, store-bought
1 jelly roll pan or lipped baking sheet
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Hull the strawberries and cut them into small dice, then put them in a bowl and sprinkle with the 2 tablespoons sugar and 2 tablespoons rum. Cover with plastic wrap and leave to macerate — swirling once or twice — while you get on with the crêpes.
Lightly brush a jelly roll pan or similar lipped baking sheet with some of the melted butter or line with parchment paper, then stir the teaspoon of rum into the rest of the melted butter and set aside for a while.
Beat together the mascarpone and ricotta, until they are light and well combined, then beat in the egg, followed by the 1⁄4 cup sugar, the lemon zest, vanilla extract, and the remaining tablespoon of rum.
Lay out a crêpe, pale-side up, and dollop about 1⁄3 cup—think of an espresso cup filled brimmingly to the rim—of the mixture onto the middle, then fold the top and bottom of the crêpe over, and do the same to the sides, to make a bulging parcel. Place, fold- or seam-side down, on your prepared jelly roll pan and proceed with the remaining 7 crêpes.
Brush the crêpes with the rum-butter and put in the preheated oven for 20–25 minutes; when cooked, they will be puffed up and, although the filling will have oozed out a little, it will be safely set.
Let them stand a minute or so before carefully transferring to a serving plate (or serve straight from the pan), and spoon a gleaming sprinkle of rum-soaked strawberries over them as you serve.