I hope you have completed your chocolate crepes by now. It's time to start with the next step. The hazelnut filling. First make sure you have taken your crepes out of the freezer, if you froze them. Make sure they are nice and thawed before beginning the hazelnut filling. Once the filling is complete, you can start to spread the layers between crepes.
Before you begin to make the hazelnut filling read the instructions thoroughly. Make sure you have all of the ingredients that you will need. Remember the phrase "mise en place"? French for putting everything in place and ready to go.
Ingredients you will need are heavy cream, egg whites, sugar, unsalted butter (softened), vanilla, hazelnut paste or cream, and a pinch of salt. When you first open your hazelnut paste, you will see that it has separated and there is a layer of oil on top. Just like almond butter or natural peanut butter. Take the time to stir the hazelnut paste. The sediment at the bottom can be difficult to mix in. Be patient and stir until it is creamy.
Begin by pouring the heaving cream into a small mixing bowl.
Mix until soft peaks form. I just use a hand held mixer. It's fast and easy.
Like this. Put this whipped cream in the refrigerator until you need it later.
In the bowl of a mixer add the egg whites. Be VERY careful when separating the egg yolks from the whites. If you have even an iddy biddy speck of egg yolk mixed in the egg whites, they will not beat into fluffy egg whites. It doesn't matter how long you beat the egg whites they will never get thick and fluffy. So remove any trace of egg yolk.
Add the sugar into the egg whites.
Whisk them together.
Place the bowl over a pan with simmering water. DO NOT let the bowl touch the water. You want the steam to slowly heat the egg whites and sugar mixture. If the water is boiling and gets too hot, you will have scrambled egg whites with sugar in them. Stir constantly over the simmering water.
The sugar will start to dissolve as the mixture heats. Keep whisking.
Clip on a candy thermometer to the edge of the bowl. Make sure the thermometer isn't touching the bottom of the pan. Cook the mixture until it reaches 160 degrees. This will pasturize the egg whites and dissolve the sugar. This is a great candy thermometer. I purchased it through Williams Sonoma.
This is what the mixture will look like. It will be foamy. Remove the bowl from the heat and place it onto the mixer.
Attach the whisk attachment and turn the mixer onto medium high speed.
Beat the mixture like crazy! It should take 5-8 minutes.
Look how pretty that looks. You should have soft peaks form. Remove the whisk attachment and put on the paddle attachment.
Feel the bottom of the bowl. It should NOT feel warm. It should be completely cooled. If it still feels somewhat warm, let it cool longer before you go on to the next step.
With the mixer on medium-low speed, start adding the butter several pieces at a time. Mix thoroughly after each addition.
As you add the butter the meringue will slightly deflate.
Add the vanilla and salt.
Blend in the hazelnut paste.
This is what the mixture should look like. It's very fluffy.
Gently fold in the whipped cream that you put in the refrigerator early.
It should look like this. The filling doesn't hold well, so you need to use it immediately.
Time to start layering the crepes. I like to use a cardboard disk on top of a pedistal cake stand. The stand makes it higher and I can turn it easily as I spread the filling.
I like to use this ice cream scoop. It measures out about 2 tablespoons of the filling. By using the scoop I can get the same amount of filling on each layer. It works out quite well. Place the first crepe on top of the cardboard disk. The cardboard disk is optional by the way.
I like to use an off-set spatula to spread the filling.
Spread the filling evenly across the entire crepe.
Repeat with each crepe. Spread another thin layer of hazelnut filling in between each crepe.
Do your best at keeping the crepes level and even. It's ok of the edges are not perfectly lined up. The ganache will cover up all of the edges. If you can tell that the stack is a little slanted, just add a bit more filling to the lower side to build it up. It's ok to do that because once it is sliced no one will ever know.
This is my completed stack of crepes. I think I had about 30 crepes, which makes 60 layers with the filling. Wait until you slice into this, it's SO impressive.
Now cover the crepes with plastic wrap. I just lifted the stack off the cake plate using the cardboard disk. Now refrigerate this for several hours. You want the filling to set up before you start spreading the ganache (step #3). At this point you can cover it with aluminum foil and freeze for up to a week if you want. I'm going to refrigerate this overnight.
We have just completed all of step # 2. That wasn't so bad. I hope you take the time to lick the hazelnut filling bowl clean. My son wanted that job, then he saw how much butter was in the filling and turned me down when I offered it to him. So I licked it clean. Enjoyed every finger full!
2/3 cup heavy cream
6 large egg whites
1 2/3 cups sugar
1 ¾ cup (3 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, softened
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup hazelnut cream (available at Liberty Heights Fresh)
Pinch of salt
1. Put cream into a bowl of an electric mixture fitted with a whisk attachment; beat on medium-high speed until soft peaks form, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl. Refrigerate.
2. 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, 5 minutes.
3. 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 five minutes. Make sure the bottom of the bowl has completely cooled before add the butter.
4. 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, 3-5 minutes. Fold in whipped cream with a rubber spatula. Use immediately.
5. Spread about 2 tablespoons of the filling inbetween each layer of the crepes.