Last month the amazing Yvonne at Creampuffs In Venice asked me if I would like to join the Daring Bakers. You've probably read the exploits of these wizards of dough, masters of pastry, empresses of batter......well, I'm spinning out of control here. Each month they set themselves a baking challenge and their efforts are marvelous. Clearly, I'm not worthy, but I was so happy to join them, with the hopes that trying to keep up with them would stretch my meager baking skills and give me an excuse to bake something complex and decadent. And that's exactly what happened with my first month's effort, Darkest Chocolate Crepe Cake.
I remember seeing this crepe cake featured in an issue of Martha Stewart Living, and toying with the idea of making it. But, I never did. So, I was quite happy when Brilynn at Jumbo Empanadas chose it for this month's challenge. Little did I know what a challenge it would be. Martha dear, I love you--but this was a difficult cake to make, and I think your recipe was a bit confusing.
The starting point for this cake is the chocolate crepes. I wasn't able to make as many as the recipe called for. The recipe says to use only 2 Tablespoons of batter per crepe. Fat chance. That proved impossible for me in the beginning and I used 1/4 cup per crepe. Eventually, I was able to use less as I improved while making the crepes, but by that time I was running out of batter. I wound up with 27, rather than the 32 called for in the recipe.
Then there was the delicious, artery clogging filling. I ran out of it after using only 12 crepes, (possibly because I didn't make the meringue as good as it should have been). Staring at my stumpy cake, I decided to make another batch, which allowed me to make the tower you see in the photos. Here is the finished tower, just before I coated it with the chocolate glaze. Note the plastic straw inserted into the middle of the cake to give it stability. Don't use a flexible straw that you can bend down.
By the way, look at the ingredients. Loaded with much fat and sugar? My advice for eating this cake: Go the the Emergency Room with the cake and some paper plates. Serve cake to everyone and enjoy the rich, creamy filling and cute candied hazelnuts. When you feel the first signs of cardiac arrest, simple fall forward into the arms of an ER nurse, who will hopefully defibrillate you in a timely manner. I only had once slice of this cake and it was deliciously over the top. I gave the cake to my friend Nancy, who's a doctor and can administer heart massage should anyone in her family succumb to the clogged arteries. I heard nothing but raves from her about the cake. It was a great success with her family. So, I think it was worth it.
Now, if you really want to see magnificent versions of this cake, please go to the sites of the other fabulous members of the Daring Bakers and look at their creations. You might swoon.
All Things Edible
Chronicles In Culinary Curiosity
Creampuffs In Venice
Culinary Concoctions By Peabody
Eat Drink Live
Feeding My Enthusiasms
Food Art And Random Thoughts
Heal My Life
I like To Cook
La Mia Cucina
My Kitchen In Half Cups
Pip In The City
The Canadian Baker
The Sour Dough
Trembom In English
Veronica's Test Kitchen
What's For Lunch Honey?
Writing At The Kitchen Table
Darkest Chocolate Crepe Cake
(Martha Stewart Living)
• 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
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; stir in chocolate until completely melted. Set aside.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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. Insert a plastic straw doen the center of the cake to provide stability. Cut off any of the straw that sticks up above the top of the cake. Refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes.
6. 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 affxnd 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
1. 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.
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;, 2 to 3 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 5 minutes.
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 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
• 10 Ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1. 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
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.