Sunday, June 9, 2013

Crepe Cake

Layers of crepes, excellent custard, topped with ganache
Last weekend home with the sis! Ever since Smitten Kitchen's cookbook came out, she and I have been planning on making this amazing crepe cake together. It's quite a recipe to tackle - first there's the staggering pressure of making crepes, coupled with hazelnut custard, candied hazelnuts and chocolate ganache. This recipe was a lot of work, but also a lot of fun. My sister and I both tend to be control freaks in the kitchen. I love to bake with friends, but usually for me that means having them sit in the kitchen and watch me while I bustle around, occasionally allowing them to stir something. Luckily, this recipe seems as though it was designed with two people in mind. There are certainly tricky parts where it helps to have an extra set of hands. 

Cook Time: 30 minute
Prep Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes
Cool Time: 1 hour
Ready-In: 4+ hours (Yep...labor intensive and time consuming)
This is really a recipe for those looking for a cooking adventure! Go in with a good attitude.

So, you'll be needing a solid crepe recipe - enough to make about 20 crepes. You will want chocolate ganache and a creamy custard for filling.

Here's the crepe recipe that we used:
9 tbls browned butter
2 cups milk
1/3 cup cream
6 large eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
butter for the frying pan

For the custardy filling:
1 1/3 chopped hazelnuts
1 cup confectioner's sugar
2 tsps hazelnut liqueur (like Frangelico)
3 1/3 cup whole milk
7 tbls sugar
5 large egg yolks
 5 tbls cornstarch

Chocolate Ganache Drape
6 ounces semisweet chocolate
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tbls Frangelico

Begin by making your crepes. They need to chill for at least an hour (although you can make yourself busy in this time preparing the other things) or up to two days.
You want to have browned butter -to do so, melt the butter in a small sauce pan over medium heat. The butter will begin to foam up and bubble and eventually turn to gold, then brown. Stir frequently. As soon as it begins to brown, remove from heat - it will go from brown to burnt alarmingly fast.

This is a great example of browned butter. Yummy yummy.

 Alright. Done. Let the butter cool until it is lukewarm before proceeding.
Get to ready to whisk your arms off - this recipe wants well-blended ingredients.
In a large bowl combine crepe milk, eggs, flour, sugar and 6 (ONLY 6) tablespoons of the browned butter. You'll need the other three later on. Whisk until perfectly smooth. I even went through the trouble of straining out flour clumps. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour, up to two days.

In the meantime, preheat your oven to 350. Spread out your hazelnuts on a baking sheet and toast them for 10-12 minutes. You want them to have a little color, but not be burnt. Let those guys cool then start the pastry cream. In a food processor grind together one cup of hazelnuts, confectioner's sugar, and hazelnut liqueur. First it will become powdery (duh), then it will start to clump together as you release the hazelnut oil. You want your mixture to be finely clumpy.

In a saucepan combine this nutty paste with the whole milk and sugar on medium-high heat. Bring it to a simmer, stirring gently.

 In a medium bowl (this is the part where it's handy to have a sous chef) beat together the egg yolks with the cornstarch to make this crazy yellow glunk.

When the milk is ready, gently pour small spoonfuls of the hot milk into the egg yolk, whisking constantly so nothing cooks itself prematurely. Continuing adding milk until the yolks are quite warm. Now, pour the egg yolk mixture into the hot milk mixture (reverse direction of what you were just doing). Return the milk to the stove, whisking constantly as  you bring to to a boil. Boil for two minutes, then remove from heat. You'll notice that it thickens into a light pudding consistency. Stir in the other three tablespoons of browned butter from the crepes. Transfer to a clean bowl  and put in the fridge to help cool fast. You need it to be completely cooled before you finish the cake - quicken this step by placing in a half bowl of ice water. It will take several hours. Pat a piece of plastic wrap over the top so no film forms.

IN THE OTHER  can start making crepes when they've sat long enough! It's gonna take a while unless you have multiple chefs on it (I just fried for about 30 minutes to make sure our crepes were consistent). Use a 9-inch frying pan. My strategy (although you should certainly adapt your own) was to keep the burner on medium heat. I re-buttered every two crepes. Usually your first one or two won't be that swell, but you'll find your stride and be turning out beautiful crepes in no time.
Anyways...medium heat, well-buttered pan. Pour 1/4 cup batter into one half of the pan, rotating the pan quickly to coat it evenly. Cook on one side until golden-brown (about 2 minutes), then flip to the other for 20 seconds. In order to flip, I'd slide a spatula under, making sure it wasn't going to stick anywhere, then grabbed a well-cooked edge, pulling up gently to slide my fingers under (you want to do this quickly so you don't feel the heat), then flipped it over. Don't worry too much about where it lands, or if it's folded, as it's super easy to rearrange it once it's down. Once done, place on a plate with a layer of paper towels - I put a new paper towel layer on every 4 crepes.

With the crepes all done and the creme chilling in the fridge, you may have time to take a break and re-coop a little! I took the time to clean the dishes and cuddle my favorite hedgehog.
Once the creme custard is cool, you can begin the final stage (almost)! Set aside the nicest looking crepe for the top. Choose a nice thick and whole crepe for the bottom layer.

Alternate one crepe with 1/4 cup custard until you run out of custard.  Place the top crepe on top.

Now! Make the ganache! Easy peasy, we've done this a thousand times.
Chop chocolate finely and place in a heat-proof bowl.

Heat cream and liqueur in a small saucepan and pour over the chocolate. Let sit for a few minutes, then stir until all the chunks are gone - if needed you can microwave for about 20 seconds at a time until smooth.

Pour smoothly over the top of the cake and spread out gluttonously.

Let chill in the fridge until ready to be eaten.


1 comment:

  1. What a party! I love how the ganache soaked into the top few layers...beautiful.