This year, Shrove Tuesday, or Pancake Day has fallen just a few days after Valentine's, so before the roses have even lost their bloom, there's another opportunity for celebration. According to the Christian calendar, it's the feast that precedes a period of restraint (Lent), in the run up to Easter, but it's roots stretch back beyond the dawn of Christianity to pagan times. As a pagan festival, the round pancake was thought to represent the sun, signifying the coming of spring and as a Christian celebration, it was a way to use up rich foods, such as eggs, milk and sugar, before Lent when a simple, plain diet was expected (hair shirt optional).
Religious beliefs aside (live and let live, I say), there's not a great deal of restraint goes on our household, although, perhaps it does make sense to show a little moderation in the gap betwixt Pancake Day and Chocolate Egg Day lest one should find one's trousers have inexplicably begun to garrotte one's nether regions...
Each year, my delightful children insist that I make pancakes and each year, they eat one and then we are left with a lot of pancake mixture that lurks in the fridge for a while I try and fail to convince them that savoury pancakes for dinner are a good idea. As a result, I am left feeling somewhat ambivalent about the whole business of pancake making, but I think I may have the answer to my woes...the pancake inspired cocktail! When the little blighters pooh-pooh my culinary efforts, I shall simply mix one of these and tip the rest of the pancake mixture in the bin.
This cocktail is quite simply, amazing, if I do say so myself and has been achieved without the use of gin (very unusual for me). It does involve making toffee vodka, but that is so ridiculously quick and simple, it really shouldn't put you off - click here for the toffee vodka recipe.
As the name suggests, it is inspired by the French dessert, Crêpe Suzette, consisting of a thin pancake, topped with a sauce of caramelised sugar and butter and orange juice and finished with orange curaçao liqueur. It's a delicious combination and it's metamorphosis into cocktail form is no less of a gastronomic success.
2oz toffee vodka
1/4oz triple sec
1 and 1/2oz freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
lemon and granulated white sugar to rim the glass
Begin by rimming the edge of a chilled cocktail glass with sugar - pour a little sugar onto a small plate and moisten the rim of the glass by gently passing the cut lemon over it - do not allow it to drip down the sides, if possible. Roll the moistened edge of the glass through the sugar on the plate and see how the crystals adhere.
Next, add the remaining ingredients to a shaker with a handful of ice and firmly attach the lid before shaking hard. Always keep on hand over the top whilst shaking to avoid any sudden spillages.
When the outside of the shaker develops a frosty bloom, strain the mixture carefully into the glass, avoiding any splashes on the rim that might dislodge the sugar crystals.