Day 2 – Took a look at the recipe. It looks very detailed and I suspect that it can be broken down so that some of it can be done ahead before the final putting-it-all-together day. Sounds kinda exciting!
Day 3 – Talked it over with Sweetie. We agreed that we’re not big hazelnut fans, so I’ll come up with another filling flavor.
Day 4 – Went online and found the website for the flavored creamer with the hazelnuts called for in Martha Stewart’s recipe…that’s the one we are supposed to use for the challenge. Turns out there are other flavors. I kind of like the chocolate raspberry flavor…wonder if I can find it at the store.
Day 7 – Bought the chocolate, boxes of butter, eggs, lots of heavy cream, and the chocolate raspberry non-dairy creamer. This recipe will be hell on the arteries, but I’ll just have a tiny piece, right? Suuuure.
Day 9 – Served some of the non-dairy chocolate raspberry creamer at breakfast for a crowd. No one used any. Hmmm. I smelled it. Nope, I’m not going to use it either. It smells artificial and chemical. I’ll figure out another way to get the raspberry flavor. Out with the noxious stuff.
Day 12 – The reports on the crepes are a little scary. It seems that this recipe makes a delicate crepe that is difficult to flip, plus it might get rubbery after standing. Oh, boy. Guess I better allow time to experiment with the crepe cooking.
Day 15 – Finally have time to make the crepe batter. I decide to add the water to the egg mixture instead of to the chocolate mixture. I also decide to melt the butter and chocolate in the microwave like I do for truffle ganache. I use the food processor to chop the chocolate (from Trader Joe’s) up fine and it mixes together with the butter like a charm. The batter looks O.K. Into the fridge.
Day17 – Well, the batter is well chilled, hehe, but today was the first time I could spend the needed time to work on the crepes. First off I tried a seasoned cast iron small frying pan with butter. A disaster. No crepes survived the process, mostly tearing when I tried to turn them. Then I tried a similar size non-stick pan. Slightly better, but still no crepe that I can use for a cake. They taste pretty good, so if I ever get any that can be stacked, the cake should taste good although it may look strange.
Sweetie heard me cursing and banging things in the kitchen and took over the stove. He used a larger non-stick pan. At first his didn’t work, either. Then he managed to flip them correctly, but the crepe was slightly burned. No butter and lower heat, plus two spatulas seemed to work. I stood ready with waxed paper squares to put between each crepe and the next, then, eventually learned how to make the crepes.
(The waxed paper helped, but some still stuck to the paper and tore when I got around to stacking them with the filling, so I’m glad I made lots of extra crepes and decided to do a mini-cake about 5 inches in diameter, rather than a full sized cake.)
Wrapped everything up airtight and it all went into the fridge.
Day 22 – Time to try out the filling. I followed the recipe except that I used some juice drained from a package of frozen raspberries, plus a tablespoon of half and half instead of the same amount of the hazelnut cream. I’ve never made this kind of butter cream before, but it was really easy as long as I followed the directions. I’ll make it again when I need an easy to handle and really delicious filling, except that I would reduce the salt quite a bit next time. Didn’t anyone at Martha’s kitchen test the recipes first?
Once the filling was ready, I began to stack the cake. The filling was easy to use and the crepes were mostly the same size. It went quickly and the stack only listed to the side slightly when done. I wrapped the crepe stack tightly and put it in the fridge.
Day 24 – Here’s hoping that the crepes haven’t gone stale, but it takes time to do even part of a recipe like this. And more time to wash up all the pots, pans, bowls, spoons, spatulas, racks, etc. that are needed. First off I decided to do the Candied Nuts.
This is another skill I’ve wanted to try and it really was fun. Unfortunately it takes a remarkably short time for the sugar mixture to go from lightly colored to dark amber. I saw that I’d overcooked it and promptly poured the mixture into a Pyrex measuring cup to stop the cooking. The nuts were on their skewers, almonds instead of hazelnuts, and at first the candy didn’t drip off correctly, but I played with it and soon had lovely candied almonds with wispy top knots. Then I dipped the tines of a fork into the candy and made fun threads of spun sugar on some waxed paper. They made a complementary decoration for the top of the cake. It was fun getting advice from some of the other Daring Bakers. One suggestion was to make the sugar decorations so that the extra drips went onto the open dishwasher door. Close it and run the dishwasher & cleanup is easy!
The last part of the cake was the Chocolate Glaze. It’s basically a ganache. Since I had experienced the over-salting of the filling, I reduced the salt to ¼ teaspoon, but otherwise followed the recipe. It makes a shiny, delicious topping, although I did have some trouble making it stick on the sides where filling was present. Back into the refrigerator to chill, and then time to decorate with the nuts and spun sugar. I used some of the glaze to act as glue to put the candied nuts on top. Time for photos!
Once sliced, you can see all of the layers of crepe and filling which is quite pretty. My resident tasters declared it a good cake, especially the filling. One comment was that the crepe itself didn’t have enough flavor to stand up to the filling and glaze. I look at it as a bunch of crepes that are needed to hold the filling and glaze together. We had the first pieces of cake for lunch since dinner was to be early. Despite my knowledge of all the rich ingredients, when a second piece was offered that night, I accepted and enjoyed the fruits of my labor.
Today – Along with most of the rest of the Daring Bakers, I’m posting my Crepe Cake for you to enjoy.
If you are going to make it, I recommend using less salt everywhere and making the smaller version. The crepes are a bit easier to handle, you can probably halve the recipes, and you’ll have just the right sized pieces when you have that second serving.
Darkest Chocolate Crepe Cake
3/4 Cup (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces, plus melted for pan
8 Ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 1/2 Cups all-purpose flour
1/3 Cup sugar
1/2 Teaspoon salt
2 1/2 Cups whole milk, room temperature
6 large eggs, room temperature
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Bring 1/4 cup water to a rolling boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add butter, 1 piece at a time, whisking to combine after each addition. Remove from heat; stir in chocolate until completely melted. Set aside.
Whisk together flour, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk together milk, eggs, and vanilla in another medium bowl. Gradually add milk mixture to flour mixture, whisking until smooth. Add chocolate-butter mixture, whisking until smooth. Pour through a fine sieve into an airtight container; discard lumps. Refrigerate at least 2 hours or up to overnight.
Lightly coat an 8-inch crepe pan or nonstick skillet with melted butter. Heat over medium heat until just starting to smoke. Remove pan from heat; pour about 2 tablespoons batter into pan, swirling to cover bottom. Reduce heat to medium-low; return pan to heat. Cook, flipping once, until edges are golden and center is dry, about 30 seconds per side.
Slide crepe onto a plate. Repeat process with remaining batter, coating pan with butter as needed. Crepes can be refrigerated, covered, up to 1 day.
Place a crepe on a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet. Spread with about 3 tablespoons hazelnut filling. Top with another crepe. Continue layering with hazelnut filling and crepes, using about 32 crepes and ending with a crepe on top. Refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes.
Spoon 1/2 cup glaze on top of the cake, spreading to edges. Spread remaining glaze around sides of cake, coating completely. Refrigerate until glaze is firm and set, about 20 minutes. Cake can be refrigerated up to 3 days. Garnish with toasted and candied hazelnuts.
Serving: Makes about 8 cups
2/3 Cup heavy cream
6 large egg whites
1 2/3 Cups sugar
1 3/4 Cups (3 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, softened
1 Teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 Cup hazelnut cream, (available from Whole Foods Market, www.wholefoods.com)
1 salt (I recommend much less salt)
Put cream into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment; beat on medium-high speed until soft peaks form, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl. Refrigerate 1 hour.
Whisk egg whites and sugar in the clean bowl of mixer set over a pan of simmering water until sugar has dissolved and mixture registers 160 degrees;, 2 to 3 minutes.
Attach bowl to mixer fitted with the clean whisk attachment; beat on high speed until slightly cooled and stiff (but not dry) peaks form, about 5 minutes.
Fit mixer with paddle attachment. With mixer on medium-low speed, add butter, several pieces at a time, mixing well after each addition (meringue will deflate slightly as butter is added). Add vanilla, hazelnut cream, and salt; mix until mixture comes together, 3 to 5 minutes. Fold in whipped cream with a rubber spatula. Use immediately.
Serving: Makes about 2 cups
1 1/4 Cups heavy cream
1 Tablespoon light corn syrup
1 salt (less salt here, too)
10 Ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
Bring cream, corn syrup, and salt to a boil in a medium, heavy saucepan over medium- medium-high heat. Remove from heat. Add chocolate; swirl pan to cover completely with cream. Let stand about 5 minutes. Stir until smooth. Let cool completely.
Serving: Makes 9
9 hazelnuts, toasted and peeled
1 Cup sugar
Thread each hazelnut onto tip of a long wooden skewer; set aside. Place a cutting board along the edge of a countertop; set a baking sheet on floor next to edge.
Cook sugar and 1/4 cup water in a medium, heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar has dissolved. Continue to cook, without stirring, until syrup comes to a boil, washing down sides with a wet brush to prevent crystals from forming. Let boil until syrup turns light amber, about 5 minutes; remove from heat. Let stand until slightly cooled, 8 to 10 minutes.
Dip 1 skewered hazelnut into syrup, coating completely and letting excess syrup drip back into pan. When dripping syrup becomes a thin string, secure end of skewer under cutting board, letting caramel string drip over edge onto sheet. Repeat with remaining hazelnuts. Let stand until caramel has hardened, about 5 minutes. Break strings to about 4 inches. Carefully remove skewers.
Martha Stewart Recipe via the website.
So, would you??
Now 30 strong, The Daring Bakers are now having a member choose the recipe each month instead of voting. Brilynn chose Martha Stewart's Darkest Chocolate Crepe Cake for April.