8/21/2011

Sunday Dinner

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Carrot Roulades with Goat Cheese and Radishes

served with a white wine pan sauce
Green Salad with Bacon and Croutons

Darkest Chocolate Crêpe Cake
served with a strawberry coulis


This Sunday marks the last day of summer vacation and the first school night of the school year-- a bittersweet feeling for all.   My children played a role in helping me create this back to school menu.  It is mostly good comfort food, but with a knock-out dessert.

It has been quite some time since I made this cake.  In fact, the last time I made it was for my mother's birthday over three years ago.  The recipe may seem daunting, but really all it takes is a little patience.   A jammed packed summer with three kids will teach one patience, won't it?  It was a good summer and I couldn't be happier to make this cake for them.  This cake consists of layers (upon layers) of chocolate crêpes.  In between these layers is a swiss meringue buttercream that is flavored with Nutella and lightened with a little whipped cream.  It is then finished with a rich chocolate glaze.


When I make the crêpes, I seem to come out with more than originally called for (thirty-nine to be exact).  However, I am unable to get all the way to the thirty-two layers for the final cake.  I come in between twenty-eight and thirty.  That leaves a few extra crêpes for snacking and that's o.k. by me.  I also add a bit of espresso powder to bump up the chocolate flavor in the crêpes.  The recipe calls for hazelnut cream, but I use Nutella and reduce the amount of sugar.  A bit of Frangelico in the filling is optional, but good.

Good Sunday comfort food with a decadent dessert and nothing but crêpe expectations for the coming school year!  Ooof!


Printable Recipe


Darkest Chocolate Crêpe Cake
serves 14-16

For the Crêpes
makes about 30-40 crepes (I get 39)

1/4 cup water
3/4 cup (6 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-sized pieces
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon espresso powder
2 1/2 cups whole milk at room temperature
6 extra large eggs
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract

For the Filling
makes about 8 cups
2/3 cup heavy cream
6 extra large egg whites
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 3/4 cups (14 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-sized pieces and softened
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon Frangelico (optional)
1/3 cup Nutella
Pinch of kosher salt

For the Glaze (makes about 2 cups)
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1 Tablespoon light corn syrup
Pinch of kosher salt
10 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

Candied Hazelnuts
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons water
2 ounces hazelnuts, toasted and roughly chopped

For the Crêpes
In a medium sauce pan, bring the water to a rolling boil over medium-high heat.  Add the butter one piece at a time, whisking to combine after each addition.  Remove from the heat and add the chocolate.  Stir until completely smooth; set aside.

In another medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt and espresso powder.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, and vanilla.  Gradually add the milk mixture to the flour mixture, whisking until smooth.  Gradually add the chocolate mixture, whisking until smooth.  Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate overnight.  Once rested, pour and press through a fine-mesh sieve; discard any lumps.

Lightly coat an 8-inch crepe pan or 10-inch non-stick skillet with melted butter and heat over medium heat; wipe out excess.  Pour about 3 tablespoons of batter into the pan, swirling to coat bottom.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook the crêpe, flipping once until edges are golden and center is set, about 30-45 seconds per side.  Transfer crepe (I invert the pan with a whack on the counter) to a sheet of waxed paper.  Continue with remaining batter (no butter needed for non-stick skillet), placing a sheet of waxed paper between each crepe.  Crêpes can be made and refrigerated for up to one day.

For the Filling
In a medium bowl using a wire whisk or a hand held mixer, beat the cream until soft peaks form, about 3-5 minutes.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

Whisk egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer set over a pan of simmering water.  Stir until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture registers 160º F on a candy thermometer, about 3 minutes.  Remove from the heat and place the bowl on the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Beat on high until slightly cooled and stiff (not dry) peaks form, about 5 minutes.  Switch the whisk attachment for the paddle attachment. With the mixer on medium-low speed, add the butter, a few pieces at a time, mixing well after each addition (meringue will deflate slightly as butter is added).  Add vanilla, Frangelico, Nutella, and salt; beat until the mixture comes together, about 5-7 minutes.  (Mixture will separate at first.  If the mixture looks grainy, place in the refrigerator to cool. Then beat again until smooth and fluffy).  Using a rubber spatuala, fold in the refrigerated whipped cream; use immediately.

To Assemble
Place an 8-inch round of parchment paper over a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet .  Place a crêpe on top of the parchment.  Evenly spread about 3 tablespoons of filling on top of the crêpe.  Top with another crêpe.  Continue layering with filling and crepes, using about 32 crêpes and ending with a crêpe on top.  Refrigerate until firm, at least one hour.


For the Glaze
In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the cream, corn syrup, and salt to a boil.  Remove from the heat and add the chocolate.  Let stand for 5 minutes, then stir until completely smooth.  Cool completely before using.


For the Hazelnuts
Combine the sugar and water in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Cook until the sugar dissolves.  Bring the mixture to a boil.  Without stirring, continue to cook until the mixture turns a light amber color. Remove from the heat and add the hazelnuts, stirring to coat.  Pour the candied hazelnuts onto a piece of parchment paper and spread to an even layer.  Allow the mixture to cool completely.  Break or chop into smaller pieces.

Spoon 1/2 cup of the glaze on top of the cake, spreading to edges with off-set spatula.  Spread remaining glaze around the sides of the cake, coating completely.  Refrigerate until glaze is firm and set, about 30 minutes.  Cake can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Garnish with candied hazelnuts. Enjoy!

Source: Adapted from Martha Stewart Living, January 2006

42 comments:

  1. This looks ridiculously amazing. Slightly daunting, but I love a challenge :) Gorgeous pictures!

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  2. I just came back from a dessert potluck party with friends so I shouldn't be remotely interested in desserts...BUT this looks so mouthwateringly yummy! All I can say is "wicked"!

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  3. Anna-
    Thank you:) A little patience is involved, but definitely worth it-- so good!!

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  4. Nicole-The Galley Gourmet said...[Reply to comment]
    Heidi-
    Whoa-- dessert potluck party?! I am game. Yeah, this dessert is so "wicked", I had to slice a generous wedge and share my calories with the neighbors so it wouldn't haunt me in the middle of the night:)

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  5. This is a masterpiece Nicole! Wow, so pretty and looks amazingly delicious!

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  6. This brings back memories of my wonderful birthday celebration! It is a show-stopper. I know your neighbors must love you!

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  7. This looks AMAZING! You're an inspiration, but I would be lying if I said I was going to try this any time soon -- too lazy! ;) If only tastes/smells could be transmitted through the computer screen...

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  8. Chris-
    Thank you!

    Mom-
    Just as delicious (if not more) than it was for your birthday:) Love you!

    Tina-
    Thank you! Oh, how I wish there were smell/taste-a-vision via computer. I would be the first one to sign up!

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  9. This is unbelievably beautiful Nicole, truly! A showstopper if ever i saw one :) and with nutella in the mix you cant go far wrong really can you :)

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  10. I wish I was your neighbor :)

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  11. Sasha-
    Thank you! The Nutella really adds a nice flavor.

    Erin-
    The house next door is for sale:)

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  12. All I can say is WOW! That looks insanely delicious and pretty!

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  13. Oh my word. That is my dream dessert right there.

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  14. Jess-
    Thank you for the kind comment:)

    Karla-
    Thanks! It was and still is (we had another sliver tonight) pretty dreamy!

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  15. That looks amazing!!! 32 Crepes..my my u r really a passionate baker:-) hats off to ur patience:-)

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  16. Wow this cake is beautiful! So happy I found you blog.

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  17. Wow...this cake is pure perfection!! Did I mention I'm in love with your blog?! :)

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  18. Kelly-
    I am glad you like the cake and thrilled you love my blog:) Best!

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  19. OH MY! I've had cake on the brain this week and when I saw this picture all I could think was, "How in the world did you torte a cake that thin?!" Now I know. I haven't thought much about chocolate and crepes since I visited France just about 15 years ago....thanks for the rekindled memory.

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  20. This absolutely me gasp with delight when I saw this on tastespotter. It is stunning. I would love to taste it!

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  21. What an amazing looking desert. Thanks for sharing.

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  22. Wow, that looks divine! I've always wanted to make a crepe cake! I found your blog through tastespotting and was excited to see your form Illinois, so am I!

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  23. How gorgeous! How did you cut it so perfectly? I could see the whole thing falling apart on me.

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  24. Anne-Marie,
    I had just taken the cake out of the refrigerator, so the filling was firm which made for easy slicing.

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  25. that is a gorgeous cake!! almost too pretty to eat!!

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  26. I don't have anything intelligent to say except - WOW !!!
    Absolutely WOW

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  27. This looks simply amazing! I just pinned it. Can't wait to try it. Thanks!

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  28. It is the most beautiful chocolate cake.

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  29. Am gonna WOW like Winnie said !!Am gonna make that cake .
    I love ur blog too, may God bless ur continuing success :)

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  30. Peggy-
    Thank you! I do hope you give it a try:)

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  31. Ohhh, this is gourgeous. It brings me back to my childhood and my grandmother. I remember that she made this for us when I was little. I helped her, it wa so much fun. Thanks for sharing your recipes. I will add this to my favorites.

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  32. Your cake looks so beautiful. I would like to make this. When I do, I will definitely add your link to my blog when I post it.

    ~Carmen

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  33. Hi! Your cake looks amazing!! I am just wondering if it is possible to replace the filling with ice cream? would that also work?=)

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  34. See-
    Thank you! I am not sure about the ice cream, but pastry cream, jam or a simple whipped cream are other fillings that could be used.

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  35. In making this cake last night, I came across a few hiccups. When trying to turn the eggs whites and sugar into "stiff (not dry) peaks," I couldn't succeed...and I was whipping on his for +10 minutes. Of course the consistancy of the cream got thicker when I added the butter and nutella, but upon putting the cream on the crepes for assembly, the cream seemed to separate..any ideas? I tried asking my mom what I could do/what I did wrong and she had no idea. I've followed this recipe before and the cake turned out delicious so I don't want to give up on it. Thanks for your help and Happy Thanksgiving!

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  36. Anon-
    I am glad you don't want to give up:) As far as the egg whites, the bowl and whisk need to be very clean and completely dry. The tiniest bit of moisture, from water or yolk will not allow the whites to whip properly. As far as the buttercream separating, it sounds like the whites weren't cool enough before adding the butter and Nutella. Place the bowl in the refrigerator for it cool, then beat again and the mixture should come together. Hope this helps and happy Thanksgiving to you as well!

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  37. I made this cake over the weekend. It was fabulous! A little bit of work, but well worth it. My only comment is that you didn't add the directions for the glaze. I made my own and it was great. Absolutely highly recommend this recipe! Yummy!

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    Replies
    1. So pleased you enjoyed the cake! And thank yo for pointing out my error. I had the ingredients for the glaze listed but I did not include the cooking directions. Recipe has been corrected.

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  38. This crêpes-cake looks gorgeous. I can't believe it would be any good for loosing weight but it doesn't matter: I have to give this a try!

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  39. I've made this before. It is soooooo good! Very involved but well worth it! :)

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  40. Could the nutella be left out? If so would I add more sugar? Just not a nutella fan.

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    Replies
    1. I would not omit the Nutella. It adds body and richness to the filling. Having said that, it is not a very pronounce Nutella flavor.

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