***WARNING*** THIS CAKE IS NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART!
After the confusion of multiple recipes that was the Red Velvet cake, it was decided to go about picking our monthly challenge in a slightly different way. Rather than have us all submit and idea and then vote on it (with 30 of us, that's alot of ideas!) we each were "assigned" a month and for that month would get to pick the recipe and decide the rules.
The first Daring Baker to choose was Brilynn, who decided that we would make the crepe cake that had been narrowly outvoted the month before.
Not only did Brilynn get to choose the recipe, she also got to set the "rules". In this case we were to use the recipe she provided (though how we present the recipe is our choice) and could only make substitutes if there was an allergy or health concerns with an ingredient, or if you just could not find the ingredient! I likely will have the same guidelines when it is my turn to choose in June (and if you have a suggestion for something you'd like to see the Daring Baker's make during that month, please comment on it! I have an idea of where I want to go right now but am still very open to suggestions!)
First another small disclaimer - this cake does not involve any baking!
What it does involve, however, is a tonne of patience and about 3 hours. Mostly patience though.
Now the really big disclaimer - this recipe sucks!
Oh sure, it is impressive enough. After all, it is a "Martha" recipe. Which to me means it is looks with no substance. And of course it will be complicated and a pain in the ***!
The "cake" comes down to several steps - make chocolate crepe batter then let it rest in the fridge. Make approximately 35 - 8 inch crepes using the chocolate batter then stack them up with a hazelnut cream filling between the layers of crepes, chill, then cover in a chocolate glaze. While it is setting up, make candied hazelnuts and sugar strings to top the cake with.
Should you be an accomplished baker/cook, no problem! In theory! In reality? Run now! Run screaming and yelling as far and as fast away from this cake as possible! AAAAAAaaaaarrrrggggg!!!
Let's start with the crepes. I do know how to make crepes. Really. I can. I can make stacks of evenly shaped, tasty crepes with no problems (and no burnt finger tips.) What I can't make is these crepes. If that's what they really were. Personally, I thought they were more like thin rubbery disks. And that's the ones that survived.
I don't own an 8 inch crepe pan. Or even an 8 inch non-stick pan, so I used what I had, a 12 inch non-stick. Because I was using a bigger pan, I tried at first using more batter, to compensate. Result? One wreck of what what supposed to be a crepe.
Recipe 1 - Me 0.
So I increased the amount again, ended up in the end using 1/3rd cup batter per crepe. I probably made close to 32 crepes, but ended up with a cake having 21 usable crepes. Not all of them without rips or tears, but they were similar in size and thickness. Considering I was going for a larger sized cake than what the recipe called for, I could live with the drop in height.
I didn't trust the recipe, which said I could just stack the crepes on top of each other. And I'm glad I didn't. I may have exhausted my supply of wax paper (and made a large dent into my parchment supply), but I won the battle of the stuck together crepes!
The filling is where I got my chance to be a bit original. I could not use the hazelnut cream filling. Hazelnuts are on the banned list from my home. So I used raspberries instead. Aside from replacing the 1/3 cup of cream for 2/3 cup of crushed raspberries (nothing added, no straining, just smushed) I stuck with the filling recipe exactly.
Personally, I think the addition of the butter was a bit much, pushed it over the top for richness, but OMG! The filling was so good you could eat it with a spoon! I considered stopping right there and making the mouse my submission for HHDD!
(Believe it or not, this was my left over filling - I really didn't just help myself to it, before I'd done the cake, and eaten it all. That took some restraint, but I did it!)
Initially I had decided I was going to have to pipe the filling in between the layers of crepes - surely the crepes that kept falling apart as I made them would be too delicate to spread the mousse onto? Well it wasn't - the rubber, I mean, the crepes, handled the filling just fine, and my layers came together quickly and with no issues, while my glaze cooled.
Again with the glaze, I made no changes to the recipe. I left it to cool and when it was ready, and my cake had had a chance to chill a bit, I tried spreading the glaze over the top and sides of the cake. Top is easy - but have you ever tried to get melted chocolate to go evenly down the side of a ragged edged cake? And not end up ripping the sides and spreading the filling everywhere?
Don't bother. It's not worth it.
Instead I went for the slightly rustic look.
The last part is the part I had the most fun with. Okay, the only fun.
Again, hazelnuts are a no-no. So no candied hazelnuts to top my cake. Candy, on the other hand, was fair game! Melting together sugar and water, I made my first sugar syrup for spun sugar!
For those who know me in person: imagine if you will - in my kitchen, standing high on a chair, in my pj's. On the floor below me is a big metal sheet pan with a silpat on it, and there I am, standing on my toes, holding a fork full of melted sugar above my head so it could make hair on the pan below! My 4 year old watched me from the living room, wondering, I'm sure, "What the heck is that crazy lady doing?"
I was making mounds of sugar hair! It was so fun! Unfornately, none of it survived the humidity around me, and all clumped into a big mess. Fortunately I had also tried some pulling of sugar to make some larger pieces, and had tried just pouring the sugar onto the mat. So I still had some nice looking sugar toppers for my crepe cake.
Which tasted terrible!
Actually, the filling tasted great. The texture of the crepes, however, was awful! No one at dinner that night (I made mine for dessert for Easter Dinner), finished a piece, and no one asked for seconds. Not adult or child. To be fair, the next day I presented some to my tester neighbour, for her honest opinion, and they loved it. When I tried it again, I found that sitting in the fridge over night had made a HUGE difference to the texture of the crepes. They still weren't delicate, but they were much less rubbery.
This cake has been almost a perfect project for the Daring Bakers. Some of the members of this group are absolutely amazing in the kitchen, some of us are a bit more on the novice side, but still Daring. We were challenged, we were frustrated. We laughed, we cried, and in the end, some of us did not succeed (which totally amazes me that I was able to - I must have been lucky that day!) And remember I said almost perfect.
And in the end, we all still love Brilynn, despite this recipe!
If you decide to make this recipe.... Remember I warned you!
P.S. Don't forget to check out all the other posts by the rest of the Daring Baker's - see the side bar for the complete list!
Darkest Chocolate Crepe CakeIngredients
- 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
- 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
- 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.