Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Chocolate Crepes Cake Recipe with Hazelnuts

chocolate crepes cake recipe with candied hazelnuts
A that cake can be made with just crepes, hazelnut filling, and chocolate glaze?
The latest treat I've put together in the kitchen is a chocolate crepes cake with hazelnuts. I decided to make it after seeing a similar dark chocolate crepes cake that was decorated in candied hazelnuts in a Martha Stewart magazine. Oh, Martha.

The chocolate crepes cake recipe requires alternating layers of crepes and chocolate-hazelnut-whipped cream mixture. While Martha Stewart's plans called for chocolate crepes and white hazelnut filling, I didn't have the time or patience to make the chocolate crepes required for my three cakes. I used store-bought plain crepes instead. I still wanted to maintain the alternating dark and light crepes cake layers that I found so engaging in Martha Stewart's chocolate crepes cake, though, so I whipped up a dark chocolate hazelnut filling of my own to contrast with the white crepes.

It's worth noting that I made the cake a second time at a later date, and I *did* use homemade plain crepes that time. I found that, because it's hard to make paper-thin homemade crepes, I needed far fewer to build a cake of the same height. Great results both times! The recipe is below.

Chocolate Crepes Cake Recipe with Hazelnuts:

24 plain crepes, either homemade or store-bought.
Advice for those of you who decide to make crepes at home:
  • Homemade crepes are thicker than store-bought, so you may not need to make a full 24 to get a nice tall crepes cake pile.
  • Any basic crepe recipe will work fine. Allrecipes has a good one. You can add a small amount (appx 1 tsp) of orange zest, orange extract, vanilla extract, or other flavoring to the batter to give the final cake a little kick. Yum!
  • A crepe pan helps enormously! The crepes made in a crepe pan end up being very uniform in diameter, which is important when stacking them into a cake.

Chocolate Hazelnut Filling (makes a little more than you need for the crepes cake, to be safe)
2 tsp unflavored Knox gelatin
3/4 cup Nutella or a similar chocolate-hazelnut spread
3/4 cup heavy cream
3 cups heavy cream
1/4 and 1/8 cup sugar
  • Put 4 tablespoons of water in a small saucepan. Sprinkle with gelatin, and set aside to soften, about 5 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, in an electric mixer on low, whisk the chocolate-hazelnut spread with the 3/4 cup cream until mixture is blended; set aside.
  • Heat gelatin mixture gently over low heat, stirring just until dissolved; set aside.
  • You're going to need your liquidy gelatin mixture shortly, so make sure it's on hand. Gently reheat it if it has start to set. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the remaining 3 cups of cream with sugar until soft peaks form.  While still beating, pour dissolved gelatin mixture over whipped cream mixture.
  • Fold the whipped cream mixture into the chocolate-hazelnut spread mixture. Refrigerate to help the gelatin set, ~ 15-30 min, or until spreadable.
  • Note: For the filling, I used a recipe other than the one called for in Martha Stewart's original crepes cake recipe because I wanted alternating yellow crepe layers with darker filling (her filling is white, to be paired with chocolate crepes that I thought would be a pain to make), and I didn't want to deal with the cooked-egg filling she calls for (too much potential for error). You can find the original, eggless chocolate filling recipe I used for inspiration here if you're curious, but I've changed the proportions significantly as noted above.

Chocolate Glaze, also via Martha Stewart - Makes about 2 cups (enough to cover 1 cake)
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
Pinch of salt (technically, this is 1/16 tsp)
10 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • Boil cream, corn syrup, and salt in a saucepan over medium-high heat.
  • Remove from heat and add chocolate.
  • Let stand about 5 minutes, then stir until smooth. If it isn't smooth, heat again on low and stir until smooth. Remove from heat and let cool completely.
  • I found that the glaze was a little thin, and therefore a bit difficult to control when assembling the cake. If you are having the same problem, I'd suggest sticking it in the fridge for a few minutes to help it thicken up before slathering it onto the cake.

Assembling the Chocolate Crepes Cake
  • Place a crepe on the cake dish you'll be serving the cake on. Spread with a layer of hazelnut filling (3 to 6 tablespoons). Top with another crepe.
  • Continue layering with hazelnut filling and crepes.
  • End with your last crepe on top of everything. Do not put filling on it.
  • Refrigerate until firm, about 15-30 minutes.
Spoon 1/2 cup chocolate 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.

Making Caramel-Coated Hazelnut Spikes
After the cake is assembled, if you have some time on your hands, you can garnish the cake with with candied hazelnuts. For me, this additional step ended up being a lot of work, hard to do, and easy to mess up. But it was rewarding. If you're willing to put yourself through the work it requires, more power to you. Here's what you'll need:

10 to 15 whole hazelnuts (good to err on the upper end, since some will break in the process)
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
patience, unknown quantity
  • Preheat the oven to 375 F and toast the hazelnuts until fragrant, 5 to 7 minutes. Peel the skins from the hazelnuts. 
  • Using the proportions above, I followed the Martha Stewart recipe from this point forward.
  • The recipe calls for putting newspaper on the floor. I would also suggest putting a clean cookie sheet on top of the newspaper to help catch the caramel drips. They can create a web of sugar that is almost as cool as the hazelnuts themselves, and the pan allows you to take the sugary nest and use it on another dessert after the fun is over.

triple chocolate mousse cake
Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake

This last dessert is a triple chocolate mousse cake from an excellent Cook's Illustrated recipe. The triple chocolate mousse cake consists of three layers. The bottom layer is flourless chocolate cake, the middle is semisweet chocolate mousse, and top is white chocolate mousse. Delicious! I can't give you the recipe here (you'll have to subscribe to Cook's Illustrated for that), but it was excellent, and I wanted to give it a shout-out.

Hope you enjoy the chocolate crepes cake recipe!