Serves 6 Servings (a dozen palacinke)
Truly no different from crespelle or crepes, palacinke is the name I first used to ask for these delicious thin pancakes. My mother would whip them up for dinner, she often served them with only a sprinkle of sugar, or adorned them with preserves like rose hip jam, apricot marmalade or prune butter. As a child, I loved them with any of those fillings, but the most luxurious—and always our favorite—were palacinke topped with melted chocolate. This is hands-down the favorite dessert of my grandchildren. They can eat, roll and fill them faster than I can cook them, and I usually lose count.
- For the palacinke
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups water
- 1 tablespoon dark rum
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/3 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups flour
- 8 tablespoons melted butter or more
- Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
- 10 ounces excellent bittersweet or semisweet chocolate (12 ounces, or more, for extreme chocolate lovers)
- 1-1/2 cups walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
- 1 cup heavy cream, chilled (plus sugar to taste)
To make the batter, whisk together the eggs, water, rum, vanilla, sugar and salt in a large bowl, until well blended. Sift the flour on top, a bit at a time, whisking each addition until smooth. Drizzle in half the melted butter, whisking until the batter has slightly thickened, with the consistency of melted ice cream. Finally, whisk in the lemon zest. Put the remaining butter in a small cup and keep it warm.
Break or chop the chocolate into small pieces and put them a bowl set in a pan of hot (not boiling) water. When the chocolate begins to melt, stir until completely smooth, and keep it warm, in the water, off the heat. Set the crepe pan or skillet over moderate-high heat until quite hot. Pour in a couple tablespoons of butter, quickly swirl it all over the pan bottom, then pour excess butter back into the cup, leaving the bottom lightly coated with sizzling butter. (If the butter doesn’t sizzle, heat the pan longer before adding the batter).
Immediately ladle in a scant 1/3 cup of batter, tilt and swirl so it coats the bottom, and set the pan on the burner. Lower the heat to medium and cook the palacinka for a little less than a minute, until the underside is lightly browned in a lacy pattern. Flip it over with a spatula and fry for a half minute or longer, until the second side is lightly browned, then remove it to a warm platter.
Heat the empty pan briefly, then rapidly coat it with butter, fill it with batter and cook another palacinka. Repeat the sequence, stacking up the finished palacinke on the platter, until all the batter is used up.
Fill and serve the palacinke as soon as possible, while fresh and warm. Keep the platter in a warm spot and cover the stack with a tent of foil or a large bowl turned upside down. Whip the heavy cream, unsweetened or with sugar to taste, to soft peaks. Stir the melted chocolate and reheat it if necessary so it is smooth and warm. Take one palacinka off the stack and place it with its lacy-patterned side down .Spoon a generous tablespoon (or more) warm chocolate in the center of the pancake and spread it over the palacinka, leaving an inch wide border uncoated. Scatter a spoonful of chopped walnuts on the chocolate layer then fold the round in half, hiding the fillings, and fold again into a plump quarter-round. Fill and fold all the palacinke the same way.
For each serving, place two rounds, overlapping, on a dessert plate, heap some cream on top, scatter some nuts on top of the cream and drizzle warm chocolate in streaks and squiggles over the palacinke and the plate.