Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Chocolate Hazelnut Crepe Cake

Sometimes it's just a good thing for us to be challenged in the kitchen.  To walk into the hearth of the home, and feel undaunted with a crazy new recipe.  I think it's good for the soul, and certainly excellent for our self-esteem, to be able to impress with something we've made with our own two hands.  
Thus, the decision was made to spend most of Sunday making a 17-layer hazelnut crepe cake.  I wanted to show my wonderful DC cousin that her recent birthday did not go unnoticed, and that she is worthy of a wonderfully decadent dessert.  I also wanted to face my fears of creating crepes and pastry cream from a handful of ingredients.  I'd say both were accomplished. 

Chocolate Hazelnut Crepe Cake (from Smitten Kitchen, 2012)
9 Tbps. unsalted butter (for both crepes and pastry cream)
2 1/3 c. whole milk
6 large eggs
1 1/2 c. flour
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 c. sugar

Hazelnut pastry cream:
1 c. hazelnuts
1 c. confectioner's sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt
3 1/3 c. whole milk
7 Tbsp. sugar
5 egg yolks
5 Tbsp. cornstarch
butter leftover from crepes

Chocolate ganache: 
6 oz. chocolate chips
1/4 c. + 2 Tbsp. heavy cream
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract

Make Crepes:
1. In a small saucepan, brown all butter according to these instructions.  Let cool to lukewarm.
2. In a blender, combine milk, eggs, flour, salt, sugar, and 6 Tbsp. browned butter.  Cover finished mixture and refrigerate for one hour or up to 2 days. 
3. When you're ready to actually cook the crepes, preheat a medium non-stick skillet or crepe pan over medium-high heat.  My pan is super non-stick, so I could skip the buttery, but you may want to brush  your own with melted butter to ensure nothing clings to the surface.  
4. Pour 1/4 c. batter into skillet and quickly swirl it around until it evenly coats the bottom and cook, undisturbed, until the bottom is golden and top is set (1-2 minutes).  Carefully flip and cook on other side for 5-10 additional seconds to set.  It may take you a couple to get the hang of it, but the batter makes a TON of crepes, so no need to fear.  You can do this!  There are a few good videos on YouTube to walk you through the process if you want to visualize it; I'd start with this one, and the pouring/flipping starts at the 1:40ish mark.
5. Transfer finished crepes to a plate and just stack; they won't stick together.  I found that the batter actually made close to 25 crepes, but you'll only need 16 or 17 for this recipe, as the pastry cream only makes so much. 

Toast/Skin Hazelnuts:
1. Preheat oven to 350 and spread hazelnuts on a baking sheet.  Toast for 10 minutes, rolling around halfway through.  Remove from oven and let cool. 
2. Rub nuts between your palms to remove skins, and discard. 

Make Hazelnut Pastry Cream:
1. In a food processor, grind nuts, confectioner's sugar, extract, and salt into damp-looking crumbs that combine in small clumps.  Do not over mix, or you'll make a hazelnut butter!
2. In a saucepan, combine the hazelnut paste, milk, and sugar over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer, stirring a bit so it doesn't scorch.  In a medium bowl, whisk together yolks and cornstarch until smooth.  Stream in small spoonfuls of the hot milk into the yolk bowl slowly, until you find that the bowl is hot.  
3. Now, reverse.  Slowly stir in yolk mixture to milk saucepan, whisking constantly, until the two are combined.  Continue whisking while you bring the mixture to a boil and cook for 2 minutes; it should thicken upon boiling, to a loose pudding consistency.  Remove from heat and stir in remaining 3 Tbsp. browned butter.  
4. Transfer to a bowl, press plastic wrap on top of cream, and refrigerate until set, probably about two hours. 

Assemble Cake:
1. Lay first crepe on plate and spread with 1/4 c. pastry cream.  Repeat with remaining crepes until you're out of pastry cream.  Chill in the fridge until you're ready for the ganache.

1. Melt all ingredients in a double boiler until smooth, but thick.  Remove cake from fridge, pour ganache on top and gently push some off the sides, so it's there are a few drips on the edges.  Set cake in fridge until the chocolate is set.

Finally....slice and eat!  


  1. You are definitely queen of the kitchen -- undaunted, brave -- and successful!!! What a cake! I hope your cousin was as impressed as I am with the beautiful outcome. That first picture is ..... well, a picture!!! XXXXX

  2. It was very good!!

  3. Thanks Grandma and Summer! It was definitely worth the effort.

  4. You are braver then I in the kitchen - job well done!

  5. It's beautiful! 17 layers of ANYTHING is impressive :)