Back in 2008, not quite a year into my launching San Diego Foodstuff, I wrote about Will Gustwiller and his relatively new business, Eclipse Chocolate. When I visited him at his three-month-old storefront on El Cajon Blvd., he was feverishly working in his tiny kitchen outfitted with a single induction burner, trying to get a new truffle flavor, a white chocolate jasmine tea and Cointreau ganache, to come together. As I said back then, it was a struggle. But, he persisted and it finally became a smooth Jasmine Green Tea, a truffle he debuted on that Valentine's Day.
Six years later, Gustwiller not only continues making truffles and chocolate bars and pastries, in 2012 he moved Eclipse Chocolate to a larger space in trendy South Park and created an operation that still produces confections but also serves daily sweet and savory brunch and dinner in a very hip cafe that melds mid-century modern furnishings with inviting warmth.
And, the food's good, too. Very good. On the day I went to cook with him, I started the afternoon with a plate of avocado benedict, a lush dish of two sous vide farm eggs and slices of salted avocado perched on house-made buttermilk toast and surrounded by a sweet chile-burnt caramel hollandaise. Alongside the benedict was a stuffed red pepper side, filled with quinoa and a mix of vegetables, dotted with Point Reyes blue cheese and a rich brute cocoa mole. I capped it off with a chile-burnt caramel cinnaroll--so decadent that I couldn't finish it in one sitting.
Then it was time to cook. Every month Eclipse Chocolate holds a prix fixe Supper Club, featuring sweet and savory plates infused with chocolate, vanilla, or caramel. This month, the Supper Club is being held on March 28 and 29 with three sittings, at 4, 6, and 8 p.m. They feature three courses for $35 and the theme for March is Italian Bistro dinner.
Gustwiller has a dish that he has featured at his Supper Club, a savory cocoa buckwheat crepe--and this is what we prepared together. For this particular crepe, we put together a caramelized shallot filling and topped it with a mushroom sauce.
So, there was a reason I mentioned the challenging truffle above. Not unlike your own kitchen when you're experimenting with dishes, we had a hell of a time with a variation Gustwiller was trying with the crepe. He wanted to make it vegan and gluten-free. The gluten-free part we had down. We were using buckwheat after all. But we found that soy milk and going egg free just didn't work. Not only did it not come together well, it tasted dreadful. So, out that batch went and we went back to his tried-and-true batter with dairy.
This crepe has minimal sugar so not only does it work well in savory dishes, it doesn't overwhelm a sweet dessert filling (like the strawberries I intend to try the recipe out on). Once we reverted back to the original recipe, it took less than an hour to get all three components together and ready to eat. One of the secrets to its success is filling the crepe, folding it into quarters, then putting it in the oven briefly to crispen the pancake's edges. The result is a firm crepe with a hint a cocoa. The creamy shallot filling is sweet from the caramelized shallots and Riesling but just a bit tart from the crème fraiche. Topping it off with the mushrooms adds another dimension of flavor with a little bite from the fresh green onions. It's rich, but not overwhelmingly so for a first course.
Savory Buckwheat Crepe with Shallot Filling and Mushroom Sauce
from Will Gustwiller
This crepes make a terrific first course for a dinner party.
1 cup buckwheat flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup skim milk
1 1/4 cup water (thin as needed)
Whisk together ingredients and strain to remove clumps. Since there's no gluten, there's no need to rest the batter but you can refrigerate before using if you want to make it ahead of time. Heat a nonstick saute or crepe pan, spray with a little vegetable oil. Ladle in about a quarter cup of the batter and swirl it around the bottom of the pan. Depending on the pan size you may need to add a little more batter. When the edges start to curl and the crepe has set, flip it over and let it finish cooking briefly, then flip onto a plate. You can separate the crepes with wax paper. (You can also freeze cooked crepes, layered with wax paper.)
For shallot filling:
1 cup shallots, diced
1/4 cup butter
1 cup Riesling wine
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, minced
1 teaspoon lemon zest
salt to taste
1/2 cup crème fraiche
Caramelize shallots in butter and deglaze with the wine. Remove from the heat and finish with remaining ingredients. Set aside.
For mushroom sauce:
1 cup + cremini mushrooms, sliced
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup + Riesling wine
4 green onion tops, sliced
salt to taste
Saute the mushrooms in a pan with plenty of room. Deglaze with wine and season to finish. Top with green onion slices
Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees F. On a flat crepe, add a couple of tablespoons of the shallot filling and spread the filling over the entire crepe. Fold into quarters. Place on a baking sheet and put into the oven for five minutes. Remove and plate the crepes. Top with the mushroom sauce and serve immediately.
Eclipse Chocolate is located at 2145 Fern St. in South Park. To make reservations for the Supper Club, RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 619-578-2084.