So, I've completed my first challenge as a brand new Daring Baker! Well, that's only partly true. I ended up using a different crepe recipe than the one we were supposed to use, which technically means I didn't really complete the challenge, but to be perfectly honest - it feels like I did since I did actually make the crappy Martha crepes first. They were predictably awful as nearly all the Daring Bakers had problems with them. But try I did only to dump them in the trash, cry over spilled milk, cuss and go on to choclatize Anthony's magic crepe recipe.
Anyway, I did make a cake! Whoo - Hoo, and guess what. I like it so much that I'll make it again and I have the DB'ers to thank for it because I NEVER in my life would have made a 20 layer cake, of any sort, if left to my own devices as I'm the original one bowl wonder. I even hate cutting out cookies. Partly because I've been so busy with HMH these days, which is Good, but partly because my current kitchen set up makes it difficult for me to spread out and make a mess which is tantamount to saying I can't really bake. But the desire is definitely still there, and so baking does get done.
SO... onto the cake. The hostess this month was the charming and upbeat Brilynn of Jumbo Empanadas who chose Martha Stewart's Darkest Chocolate Crepe Cake. And what a cake it is. You have to click the link just to see how elegant it looks. Breathtaking... and something I NEVER would have attempted for the sheer fussiness factor. And I did kick me feet and grumble, particularly when I saw that everyone was having difficulties with the crepes and we weren't allowed to fix the recipe. And I did toss Martha's crepe batter in the trash, but then... then, when I remade the crepes and it all came together. Bliss.
When the challenge was originally posted, I gave a good deal of though to it. I wanted to use nuts in the filling. But I was thinking about almond paste as I want to do a little fooling around with a marzipan covered cake for my daughter's upcoming wedding (we all hate fondant on principle and because it tastes like library paste). But then since I am obsessed with hazelnuts lately, I thought well what the heck - hazelnuts it will be!
I was understandably nervous about Martha's hazelnut cream recipe however as I haven't had many of her recipes work out for me in the past, so I modified a lovely and simple little French Buttercream recipe I got from Dianna's Desserts. I did use Martha's proportions for the ganache glaze however, since they're not that far from my own. By the time it was all done and assembled, I didn't have the time to caramelize sugar and dip the hazelnuts. so I piped leftover buttercream and ganache into rosettes and leaves and called it a day.
And guess what. The cake is delicious! And now that I've done it once, I can see it in all sorts of variations with vanilla crepes, lingonberry creme, and white chocolate ganache, or perhaps white chocolate crepes, persimmon cream filling and key lime ganache... well you get the idea. This will be FUN! And I have the marvelous and intrepid Daring Bakers to thank for it all. I never would have done it without you gals. Thanks for being you and for having me!
Anthony & Claudia’s Chocolate Crepes
4 large eggs
2 ¼ cups whole milk
½ cup cream, half & half or butter milk
1 cup grated bittersweet chocolate
¼ cup cocoa powder
2 tablespoons sugar
1 ¼ cups of pastry flour
2 tablespoons wheat gluten or high gluten (bread) flour
¾ tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tablespoon vinegar
Thoroughly mix ingredients (less vinegar) in a large bowl. Once mixed, stir in vinegar and let mixture sit for minimum of 2hrs or overnight in refrigerator.
*note: These crepes are fairly sturdy. You can add a bit of milk to make them slightly thinner, but cook one first to see how you like the texture.
Thanks to Sasha www.dolcevie.com/sasha/cooking_creps.html for the baking soda & vinegar idea
Rum Hazelnut French Buttercream
French Buttercream, also called 'Crème au Beurre' is made by heating egg yolks, sugar and brandy or other liqueur (or water) until it reaches a certain temperature. Then the cooled egg yolk mixture is added to a beaten butter and vanilla mixture. Because the sugar has melted this type of buttercream is much smoother than one made with confectioner's sugar (such as the more traditional American Buttercream).
Silky, creamy, and ivory in color, a delightful finish to your cakes and cupcakes that's not too sweet. The recipe of master French chefs, this buttery icing is lovely when flavored with brandy or Grand Marnier, or many other liqueurs. Tip: Make sure you use UNSALTED butter, also called SWEET butter.
4 egg yolks
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp. dark Rum
Dash of salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks/6 oz./170g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 cup hazelnut flour (I used Bob's Redmill), or finely ground hazelnuts, toasted gently in a pan over low heat (be careful, it burns quickly)
Carefully toast hazelnut flour in a frying pan over low heat stirring with a silicon spatula the entire time. Be careful - the tiny bits burn quickly. Put aside to cool
In the top pan of a double boiler or a heatproof bowl placed over but not touching simmering water, combine the egg yolks, sugar, brandy or other liqueur of your choice (or water, if using) and dash of salt. Whisk until very thick and pale, about 4 minutes. Remove the pan or bowl from over the water and let cool to room temperature.
In a bowl, combine the butter and vanilla. Using an electric mixer set on medium-high speed, beat until very soft and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Gradually beat in the cooled egg yolk mixture. Let the mixture stand at room temperature, stirring occasionally, until spreadable, about 20 minutes. Mix in cooled toasted hazelnuts
Use the frosting immediately, or cover and refrigerate overnight or freeze for up to 1 month. Before using, let stand at room temperature until softened, then beat with an electric mixer set on high speed until smooth and fluffy.
Adapted from Diana’s Desserts