The (somewhat) cheerful Christmas and NYE’s celebrations have gone, and the months of January and February are not particularly exciting. Therefore, in ancient times, French traditions have marked the beginning of February with light-hearted celebrations with delicious treats. Candlemas, or La Chandeleur (pronounce shahnduhluhr), is one of them. It is custom to prepare and eat crêpes on February 2nd, to celebrate and all through the Mardi Gras season. Yayyy !
A BIT OF HISTORY
The origins of the Chandeleur date back to a pagan feast. According to local customs, candles had to be lit at midnight as a symbol of purification. Chandeleur comes from the latin “candelarum”. The Church adapted the tradition into the blessing of the candles, which were to repel Evil… Why crêpes on this particular day? There’s a bit of mystery around it, but a plausible explanations says that it was also at that time of the year that the winter seed-time started. The surplus flour was then used without too much risk of shortage and crêpes were made as a symbol of prosperity for the coming year.
THE TRADITION LIVES ON
Today, for young and old alike, Chandeleur is above all known as Crêpes Day. Generations have kept alive a collection of traditions and customs around the making of crêpes, as well as a few superstitions… For instance, crêpes must be eaten only after eight in the evening. It’s recommended to toss the crêpe in the pan with your right hand while holding a piece of gold in your left – for good luck and prosperity. Another old tradition also saw people putting the first crêpe in a drawer or on top of a wardrobe to attract prosperity for the coming year. Tradition says that a rainy day means another 40 days of rain. Other sayings suggest that a sunny day will bring more winter and misfortune, a clear day means winter is behind us, and a cloudy day means another 40 days of winter. Now you’re ready – good luck and happy creping!
OUR RECIPE: VANILLA FLAVORED CRÊPES
- 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
- Blend together milk, vanilla extract and rum. Add yolks, sugar, salt, then flour. Finally, add the butter and blend on high speed 30 seconds.
- 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. (It can also be refrigerated for up to 1 day).
- Heat a crêpe pan or skillet over med-high heat. Brush with a little vegetable oil.
- Using a 1/4 cup measure, fill it with batter and pour it into the skillet. Immediately tilt and swirl the pan so that the batter covers the entire bottom of the pan. Pour any excess batter back into the bowl.
- Loosen the edges of the crêpe with a metal spatula. You can use a spatula to turn the crêpe, if you can’t flip it.
- 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.
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.
To reheat, cover the crêpes with foil and reheat in a 300°F oven until warmed through.