This Saturday is LaNae's birthday and she requested that I make her "THE Crepe cake". I then had a request that I post on my blog a "How to" on the crepe cake. So here goes....The recipe is just a bit complicated. It consists of several chocolate crepes layered with a Hazelnut filling that is basically a Swiss buttercream (I think). It is finished off with a glaze of chocolate ganache. TO DIE FOR!!
After watching Martha Stewart make this my daughter decided to make this for me for one of my many birthdays. After she gave it to me she told me to enjoy every bite because she would never make it again. It had taken her hours of preparation. Then when my younger daughter turned 16, she requested the "crepe cake". Oh no! I decided to break up the recipe into steps. Make the crepes - freeze- make the buttercream- layer - freeze - thaw - glaze - serve! So much easier. Are you ready? Here is step # 1:
Above you will see the ingredients for the chocolate crepes. Butter, semi-sweet chocolate, flour, sugar, salt, milk, eggs and vanilla.
Start with 1/2 cup water, chocolate and the butter.
About the chocolate. I have a 10 lb. bar of Peters Burgandy Semi-sweet chocolate that I keep in a cool place. I just use cut off what I need. Weigh your chocolate. Don't put it into a measuring cup up to the 8 oz. mark. It is 8 ounces by weight. Yes, you can use semi-sweet chocolate chips. My favorite is Guitard.
In a small sauce pan, bring the water to a boil.
Add butter one piece at a time, whisking after each addition.
When the butter has all been whisked in, take the pan off the stove.
Add the chocolate to the butter mixture.
Let set for just a few minutes to melt the chocolate.
Whisk in the chocolate.
Whisk until creamy and all the chocolate has melted. Set the chocolate mixture aside for just a moment. This mixture will be added to the crepe batter.
You can whisk the batter together in a mixing bowl, but one day I thought "what the heck" I"ll just whip it up in my blender and it worked just great.
Put the milk and the eggs in the blender and mix on low until smooth. If you are using a mixing bowl, just mix the mill and eggs until smooth - same.
Don't over mix. Just a few seconds is long enough.
Add the flour, salt, sugar and vanilla. Mix on low speed just until smooth.
This isn't a very good picture. What was I thinking? Oh well, while the blender is still on low, slowly add the chocolate butter mixture.
Scrape down the sides to make sure you don't have any flour or chocolate left hanging there. You want everything to be mixed well. But NOT over mixed. Don't turn the blender on high speed and walk away for a few minutes. Keep it on low and blend just enough to mix the ingredients.
Get a bowl and a strainer.
Strain the crepe batter into a bowl. You want the batter to be very smooth. This will strain out any lumps that may exist in the batter. There will be a few. It's better to be safe the sorry.
Remove the strainer and cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour or two. You can even refigerate overnight.
You are going to need a crepe pan or a small skillet. I love my crepe pans. They are from France, but I found them at Williams Sonoma several years back. They had a special and cost me $11 each. What a deal. I later bought another one. So I have three crepe pans. One just happens to be going to college with my daughter. I miss it.
I like to use an off-set spatula to flip the crepes. It works so slick. I love it.
Place the crepe pan over medium-high heat. My pan is seasoned very well so I don't have to add butter. But if you think your crepes will stick lightly butter your pan.
I like to tilt the pan just a bit and pour the batter in starting at the top.
Let the batter run down a bit then start to swirl the batter around the pan. I wanted to have a picture of the swirling, but for the life of me I couldn't pour, swirl while trying to take a picture. You might just have to practice with a few. It's ok. If some of the crepes don't work out, put them aside and eat them.
Continue to cook until the batter starts to look "dry" on top. Look at the holes I have in this crepe. My pan was a bit too hot, but it doesn't matter. The holes will be covered up with the hazelnut filling. Even if you accidentally rip a crepe, DON'T throw it out. Just repair it when you layer the crepes. No big deal. Unless you are looking for an excuse to eat one.
Carefully slide the spatula under the crepe and slowly lift the crepe off the pan.
I roll the crepe off the spatula. You'll have to practice and just do what works best for you.
After the crepe has been flipped over, it only takes about 5-10 seconds to cook the other side. Remember you have chocolate in the batter, which means it will burn easy. So don't walk away. You will need to give this all of your attention for several minutes until all of the crepes are cooked. Turn your phone off until the crepes are complete.
You will need a place to put your crepes to cool. I use a cooling rack. It works great.
Lay the crepes out to cool. This recipe will make about 30-40 crepes. It differs for me all the time. It depends on how thick you pour the batter. The crepes get thinner the more you make them. So don't fret if you only get 25 crepes. It's ok.
After the crepes have cooled you can stack them.
I place the cooled crepes on a cookie sheet. First put a piece of waxed paper or plastic wrap. I used a silpat because I have it (thanks Trudy). Put a piece of plastic wrap or waxed paper in between EACH crepe. Do not use paper towels...ugh big mistake!
Keep layering the cooled crepes and plastic wrap.
Cover with heavy duty aluminum foil. Place in the refrigerator overnight OR freeze for up to one week. That's it! You have just completed step #1.
Now you have some homework. You are going to need Hazelnut paste for the filling.
Hazelnut paste in NOT Nutella or any other spread. It's like peanut butter or almond butter. As you can see the oil has separated from the hazelnut paste that I have. You will need this for the hazelnut filling. I purchased this at Christmas from Hauser Chocolatier in Rhode Island. You can purchase it from local stores. I have found it in the Salt Lake are at Liberty Heights Fresh. Call around and see if you can find some. It's fabulous stuff! You could call a bakery to see if they would sell you some? Did you notice my 10 lb. block of chocolate?
I order truffle shells from Hauser Chocolatier. Check out their site. I don't have a problem having specialty items shipped. They have a great price for their hazelnut paste. The best I have found. I keep it in the refrigerator and it lasts for months. It will come in a container just like this.
One last piece of advice. Take care of your crepe pan. I NEVER wash mine with soap and water. I just wipe it clean with a paper towel. This keeps my crepe pans well seasoned and non-stick.
Dark Chocolate Crepes
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces.
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped (weigh the chocolate)
1 1/2 cups 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
1. 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 and stir in the chocolate until completely melted. Set aside.
2. In a blender or a mixing bowl. Blend milk and eggs. Add the flour, salt, sugar and vanilla. Blend until smooth. Do not over blend. Mixture can be whisked together using a mixing bowl. Slowly add the chocolate butter mixture while the blender is still running. Blend until smooth. Pour through a fine strainer into a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.
3. Lightly coat an 8-inch crepe pan with butter, if needed. Heat over medium heat until just starting to smoke. Remove pan from heat and pour about 2 tablespoons or more of the batter into the pan, swirling to cover bottom. Reduce heat a bit and cook until the top of the crepe looks dry. Flip once and cook until the edges are golden brown.
4. Place the crepe on a cooling rack and cool completely. Repeat the process until the crepes are cooked. When they have cooled completely layer between waxed paper or plastic wrap. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight or freeze for up to one week.
Crepe options: You can use the crepes for other desserts or breakfast. They are fabulous filled with berries and whipped cream then drizzled with melted chocolate ganache.