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La Chandeleur (shahnduhluhr), a Holy Day in the Catholic Church, is celebrated each February 2nd. On this day, the Baby Jesus was presented in the temple 40 days after his birth as was custom. It also celebrates the purification of his mother, Mary. When Joseph and Mary arrived at the temple, Saint Simeon welcomed them and proclaimed that the baby was a “Light of the World”. The name, Chandeleur, comes from the Latin candelorum festum, which means festival of candles. Since the 7th century the day has been celebrated by a procession of the faithful holding lit tapers. The candles are blessed and lit at the church and the participants carry the candle home without the flame dying. This will assure a good harvest and prosperity for the rest of the year.
The tradition of eating crêpes on Chandeleur
It is the custom to prepare and eat crêpes on February 2nd and all through the Mardi Gras season. Why this particular day? It’s a bit shrouded in mystery, but many sources mention Pope Gélase I, who helped establish Chandeleur and whose custom it was to feed crêpes to the pilgrims who visited his church. The form and color of the crêpe also calls to mind the sun, which is returning after its winter sleep.
But it’s not enough to just eat crêpes; there are a few things you must do while cooking the crêpes to insure your health, wealth and happiness for the coming year.
While cooking the crêpes, hold a coin in one hand, with the other, flip the crêpe . . . and catch it while making your wish for the new year. If you catch it your wish will be answered; if not, dommage!
1. Another way to insure good luck is to toss the first crêpe on an armoire and hope that it sticks. If it does stick, you have to keep it there all year and your harvest will be successful.
2. Je vous souhaite bonne chance!
Pâte à Crêpes à la Vanille ~ Vanilla Flavored Crêpes
Pronounced: paht / ah / krehp / ah / lah / vah nee yuh
- 1-1/2 cups whole milk
- 2 Tablespoons vanilla extract
- 1 Tablespoon rum, brandy or other liqueur
- 3 large egg yolks
- 2 Tablespoons sugar
- 1-1/2 cups sifted, unbleached, all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 5 Tablespoons melted unsalted butter
- vegetable oil for brushing on the pan
1. Place the milk, vanilla extract and rum in the blender. Add the yolks, sugar, salt, then the flour. Finally, add the butter and blend on high speed 30 seconds.
2. Scrape down the sides of the blender and blend on high speed 30 seconds more. Pour into an airtight container and refrigerate at least 2 hours.
At this point, it can also be covered and refrigerated for up to 1 day. Bring it to room temperature before continuing with recipe.
3. Heat an 8″ crêpe pan or skillet over med-high heat. Sprinkle a few drops of water on the pan; if they sizzle, the pan is ready to use. Brush with a little vegetable oil.
4. Using a 1/4 cup measure, fill it with batter and pour it into the skillet. Immediately pick up the pan and tilt and swirl it so that the batter covers the entire bottom of the pan. Pour any excess batter back into the bowl.
5. Loosen the edges of the crêpe with a metal spatula. You can use a spatula to turn the crêpe, but I usually turn it with my fingers. Using both hands, I pick up the loosened edges with my thumb and index finger and quickly flip it over.
6. Cook on the other side until lightly golden (usually less than a minute) and slide it out onto a plate. Cover with waxed paper. Repeat with the remaining batter.
- These crêpes may be filled with many different fillings, such as jam, sprinkled with a little sugar or perhaps various fruits. A favorite filling in France is Nutella. Also think about making a Gâteau de crêpes au nutella by placing a crêpe flat on a plate, smoothing on some nutella and repeating with all the crêpes until you have a nice stack and a beautiful cake.
- Use your imagination and a few of your favorite ingredients to develop your own favorites.
- Crêpes may be kept tightly wrapped for up to 3 days in the refrigerator. They may also be frozen. Be sure to bring them to room temperature before using.
- Cover the crêpes with foil and reheat in a 300°F oven until warmed through.