Sunday, November 16, 2014

Chocolate crepe cake

Believe it or not, I had never made a crêpe until this past week.  And, since I was experimenting, I thought I'd take it a step further than just the simple crêpe - why not make a crêpe cake!

I must say I've contemplated this for awhile, after one of my former customers, Ting-Ting, asked me about making a matcha (green tea) version for her.  Needless to say, it never happened, but I was nonetheless intrigued.  She had such a focused interest on pastries and would often come into the shop with loads of questions about what I was offering that day, as well as reporting on various pastries she had discovered in Manhattan.  The crêpe cake was one of them.

I began my research and opted for a chocolate version.  I found a number of recipes on line and soon realized how easy the batter is for this classic treat - milk, melted butter, flour, vanilla, egg, a little sugar, chocolate - ingredients that most of us have in our pantries and fridges on any given day.

my notes
I chose two different recipes, one using Dutch process cocoa powder and one using melted chocolate, thinking it would be good to compare the flavors.

ingredients for Dutch process version
ingredients for melted chocolate version
 I put the two batters together with no muss nor fuss and refrigerated them overnight.

getting ready to blend ingredients for the melted chocolate version
bringing it all together with an immersion blender
When it came time to make the crêpes, I chose to make a 4-5" size, thinking I wanted a petite cake for my first attempt.  Steve and I have a small sauté pan (I think it's Calphalon) that we've had for years and rarely use.  It seemed just the thing for what I was about to do.

I heated the pan and started the process.  I soon understood what to watch for as the crépes began to set.  It didn't take long before I was into the rhythm of crêpe making - one after another I piled them onto the plate.

starting to set
after flipping, finishing it off 
Especially when making small crêpes, I realized the seemingly inordinate amount of time it took to finish off all the batter (and I had made only half a recipe!).  At this point I could imagine having 3 or 4 pans going at once, flipping crêpes one after another in assembly line fashion!

I made a couple of crêpes from the Dutch process cocoa batter first.  I then switched over to the melted chocolate version, and, after doing a tasting of the two, decided to abandon the cocoa version, since it didn't have nearly as rich a flavor.

Once all of my crêpes were finished I layered them between sheets of parchment and put them in the fridge, since I was planning my assembly for the following day.

I decided to make a simple whipped chocolate ganache filling, using 3 parts cream to 1 part chocolate by weight.

Boil the cream, pour it over the chocolate, whisk gently, cover (plastic wrap directly on the surface to eliminate air) and refrigerate until nicely chilled.  It couldn't be easier!

When I was ready to begin the assembly, I pulled my plate of crêpes and my ganache from the fridge.

I whipped the ganache to medium firm peaks so it would be nicely spreadable . . .

and began the process . . .

it's a start

getting higher
until I had 21 (or was it 24?) layers (OK just try to count them!)

Into the fridge it went to set up before glazing.  My chocolate glaze is 113 gm of chocolate and 42 gm of butter melted over a bain marie.  Trés simple!

all glazed
I held the finished cake, covered, in the fridge overnight.  When it was time to serve, I sliced it and garnished with caramel spiked chantilly and chopped toasted hazelnuts.

If I haven't mentioned this before, I toast nuts before using, no matter what I'm doing with them.  It brings out the flavor and adds so much to the final experience!

a cross section

all plated up
A note about chocolate:  for this project I used Valrhona's 64% Manjari, the chocolate I used regularly when working at Gracie's.  Since then I've come to really enjoy the flavor (and the price!) of Trader Joe's Belgian chocolate, typically mixing half-and-half of their "dark chocolate" and "72% dark chocolate".

I had made a mini-cake with leftover crêpe pieces and ganache for Steve and I to sample.  We both felt that the chocolate was too acidic and not necessarily an agreeable taste, so I was anticipating how we and our Saturday evening dinner guests, Magali and Guy, might react to the piéce de resistance.

We all enjoyed the texture and flavor, particularly with the chantilly and hazelnuts mellowing out the acid of the chocolate.  But, it was Magali who suggested a bit of orange, which reminded me that I had some candied orange peel in my fridge from an earlier project.  I put a couple of pieces of the peel on our desserts et voila!  It made ALL the difference.  What a delicious combination!

Thanks Miss Mag!

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