Pour a small amount of sauce into a frying pan and warm to almost boiling.
Place a crêpe into the sauce for a few seconds to warm it up and to allow the sauce to soak in. Use a couple of spoons to fold it in half, then fold it in half again. Place the crêpe at the edge of the frying pan to keep it warm.
Repeat the above two steps until you have done a crêpe for everyone.
Place a crêpe onto a plate for each person.
If you have more crêpes than people, you can put more than one crêpe onto a plate. Alternatively, you can put the extra crêpes into a warming disk to keep them warm until they are ready to be served (to guests that want seconds).
Pour a tablespoon (20 ml) of the Grand Marnier over each crepe and light. Although this step is part of the traditional recipe, if one has objections to alcohol or is serving this dessert to children, it can be omitted and the dessert will still be very tasty.
Serve immediately as the crêpes need to be eaten while still warm.
The origin of this recipe and its name is disputed. The most common explanation is that it was created by accident by Waiter Hanri Charpentier in 1895 when he was preparing a dessert for the Prince of Wales (the future King Edward VII of England) and his companion whose first name was Suzette. In his autobiography, Henri Carpentier said:
- “It was quite by accident as I worked in front of a chafing dish that the cordials caught fire. I thought I was ruined. The Prince and his friends were waiting. How could I begin all over? I tasted it. It was, I thought, the most delicious melody of sweet flavors I had every tasted. I still think so. That accident of the flame was precisely what was needed to bring all those various instruments into one harmony of taste . . . He ate the pancakes with a fork; but he used a spoon to capture the remaining syrup. He asked me the name of that which he had eaten with so much relish. I told him it was to be called Crepes Princesse. He recognized that the pancake controlled the gender and that this was a compliment designed for him; but he protested with mock ferocity that there was a lady present. She was alert and rose to her feet and holding her little shirt wide with her hands she made him a curtsey. ‘Will you,’ said His Majesty, ‘change Crepes Princesse to Crepes Suzette?’ Thus was born and baptized this confection, one taste of which, I really believe, would reform a cannibal into a civilized gentleman. The next day I received a present from the Prince, a jeweled ring, a panama hat and a cane.”
There are a number of variations of the above, in terms of the relationship between Price Edward and Suzette (i.e. was she just the daughter of a guest, or his lover?), as well as whether it was Monsieur Charpentier who was serving or in fact the head waiter (which would normally seem more likely).
There are also a few alternative explanations, but they are less accepted. One is that the recipe was created by chef Monsieur Joseph. It is said that he invented the disk for a German actress, Suzanne 'Suzette' Reichenburg. Alternatively, it is said that there was a play running with a maid named Suzette and Monsieur Joseph supplied the play with a daily allotment of pancakes, which he named after the maid.
Another version is that the recipe was created by chef Jean Reboux for King Louis XV at the request of Princess Suzette de Carignan.
No matter what the origins, the recipe dates from the late 19th century.
The recipe was popularised in the US by Monsieur Charpentier, who became John D. Rockefeller's chef in the USA. Whether he actually invented the dish during his earlier employment as claimed in his autobiography is disputed.