My birthday cake project was a tower of success. After the first time I tried making this and the less-than-satisfactory results, I was determined to pull it off this time with minimal tears or bloodshed. (You can read about my 2006 attempt here.) This is by no means a whip-it-together last minute type of dessert (even if it technically is a no-bake dessert), so if you would like to give it a try- plan ahead. I have tried to make a clear timeline/method/ingredients so you won't have a pile of crepes collapsed in the bottom of your refrigerator. Isn't it so so pretty? Side note: I definitely want to make these crepes again and serve them with strawberries and whipped cream.
Chocolate Hazelnut Crepe Cake
Adapted slightly from: Martha Stewart Living, January 2006
For chocolate crepe batter-
¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces, plus melted butter for pan
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
⅓ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
2 ½ cups whole milk, room temperature
6 large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
⅓ cup Hazelnut Cream (to make Hazelnut Filling- recipe follows)
Hazelnut Filling (recipe follows)
Chocolate Glaze (recipe follows)
Candied Hazelnuts (recipe follows)
1. The night before: Prepare the crepe batter-
~ Bring ¼ 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 mesh sieve into an airtight container. Refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.
2. Several hours before serving: Prepare the crepes-
~Lightly coat an 8-inch crepe pan or nonstick skillet with melted butter. Heat over medium-low heat until butter stops bubbling. Remove from heat for a few seconds, and pour ⅓ cup (or however much batter covers the bottom of your pan in a very thin layer) into the pan, tilting gently to cover bottom. Resist the temptation to spread it with a utensil. If you touch the bottom of the pan at all, your crepe will stick in that spot.
~Return pan to heat. Cook until center of crepe appears dry, jiggling the pan gently periodically to prevent ensure that crepe isn't sticking to the pan. Flip crepe over very carefully. (I use a very thin, flexible spatula to lift the edge, and then grab and flip with my fingers. Be careful!) Cook second side of crepe until the edges begin to appear golden, and the center of the crepe is dry. (It usually takes me about 3 minutes per crepe.)
~Slide crepe onto a plate, and repeat with remaining batter. You should end up with about 30 crepes. (A few of mine did not survive being flipped. I ended up with 24.)
~Cover crepes and refrigerate while you prepare filling and glaze (or up to 1 day).
3. Prepare the Hazelnut Cream- (to use for the Hazelnut Filling)
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream
pinch of salt
Directions for Hazelnut Cream:
~Process nuts in a food processor until they resemble coarse meal. Transfer to a medium bowl. Add butter, sugar, cream, and salt. Stir until smooth. Set aside or refrigerate until ready to use. You will need this for the hazelnut filling soon.
4. Prepare the Hazelnut Filling-
⅔ cup heavy cream
6 large egg whites
1 ⅔ cups sugar
1 ¾ cups (3 ½sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, softened
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Directions for Hazelnut Filling:
~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. (During this time you can skip head and make the chocolate glaze.)
~Whisk egg whites and sugar in the clean bowl of a mixer set over a pan of simmering water until sugar has dissolved and mixture reaches 160 degrees, about 4 minutes.
~Attach bowl to mixer fitted with a clean whisk attachment; beat on high speed until slightly cooled and stiff (but not dry) peaks form, about 5 minutes.
~Switch to paddle attachment on mixer. 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. Don't worry, keep mixing and it will come back together.) Add vanilla, hazelnut cream, and salt; mix until mixture comes together, 3 to 5 minutes. Fold in chilled whipped cream with a rubber spatula. (The consistency should be that of a fluffy buttercream, not very runny, but not super thick either.) Use immediately.
~Place a crepe on a wire rack set over a baking sheet. (I had a piece of waxed paper on my wire rack in case I needed something to grab to slide cake onto serving plate-worked well for me. Do whatever you like though.)
~Spread crepe with about 3 tablespoons of prepared hazelnut filling (Filling layer should be very thin or you will end up with uneven crepe-to-filling ratio). Top with another crepe. Continue layering with hazelnut filling and crepes, until all crepes are used, ending with a crepe on top.
~Refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes.
6. Prepare Chocolate Glaze-
1 ¼ cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon light corn syrup (In this case, honey is a suitable substitute also)
pinch of salt
10 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
Directions for chocolate glaze:
~Bring cream,corn syrup, and salt to a boil in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. Remove from heat and add chocolate. Swirl pan to cover the chocolate completely with the cream. Let stand about 5 minutes. Stir until smooth. Cool completely.
7. Glaze the Cake-
~Spoon ½ cup glaze on top of the cake (still on wire rack), spreading to edges. Spread remaining glaze around sides of cake, coating completely. Refrigerate until glaze is firm and set, about 20 minutes.
8. Prepare the Candied Hazelnuts-
¼ cup hazelnuts (or hazelnut pieces), toasted and peeled
1 cup sugar
~Cook sugar and ¼ 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 a light amber color, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Let stand until slightly cooled 8 to 10 minutes.
~Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Sprinkle hazelnuts into cooling sugar mixture, and using a fork, swirl and gather up a few nuts, raising fork high in the air and allowing sugar to string down over the pan, holding until sugar string thins out and stiffens. Gently (and careful not to burn your fingers), remove the candy ball from the fork, and lay on parchment paper and allow to cool completely. Do this a few more times with remaining hazelnuts.
9. Garnish and Serve-
~Remove glazed cake from the refrigerator and top with candied hazelnuts, and more toasted hazelnuts if you like. Serve, and enjoy!
*Cake can be refrigerated up to 3 days.