Don’t make this cake! To be a bit more clear, don’t make this cake unless you are really committed and intend to read all the way through the instructions before you start. Don’t make this cake if you are simply following the original recipe which doesn’t highlight some of the pitfalls. And, for goodness sake, don’t make this cake if you don’t have on your brave face. It is challenging, but worth it in a tasty, I just climbed Mt. Everest kind of way.
Recently, I was reviewing last year’s posts and stumbled upon a Martha Stewart Living recipe that I tackled, Grapefruit Poppyseed Torte with White Chocolate Mousse. I made it. I ate it. I loved it. As I mentioned in that article, nearly everything you find here is original work, but sometimes I am swept away by beautiful desserts. After seeing that triumph, I thought I might like to tackle another recipe I had torn out of Living magazine years ago and tucked away. As I was already dedicating a portion of this week to crepes, I thought this Chocolate Hazelnut Mille Crepe would be the perfect fit.
Here’s the trouble with recipes in many magazines and books. They don’t always tell you what to expect. Sometimes you even find that you need an ingredient that was never listed. The glossy photos are spectacular (I’m a sucker for glossy food photos) but the cake you see is like Halle Berry. Somebody somewhere gets paid plenty to make sure she looks great all of the time. If Halle Berry showed up in every magazine with no make-up… well. You must understand that your finished treat might not end up exactly like the ones in the photos. That’s ok.
That leads me to my final (and most important) point. Be brave. Be bold. I declare this the year of doing stuff you always avoided because you thought it might go wrong. We have many more projects, food and otherwise, planned for this year. Our sincere desire is that you will try them and tell us all about the results. Try something new. Make some mistakes. We are here to help along the way. You can comment here or reach us through Facebook or Twitter. Shoot us some pictures of you with your completed projects … don’t forget the makeup.
savour… Halle Berry
CHOCOLATE HAZELNUT MILLE CREPE
Before you start:
This recipe is essentially the same as Martha Stewart Living’s Darkest Chocolate Crepe Cake. I have made only a few minor adjustments based on my experience.
Making crepes is easy… after you’ve made them once. It is quite possible that some of your initial attempts will end in a very sad, crumpled heap. Don’t despair… your cake will just be a bit shorter than expected.
The wait time on the crepe batter is essential. Some culinary magic happens in there that makes the consistency j u s t right.
Find a scoop or ladle that holds the amount of batter you want for your crepes and use it for each one for consistency.
The crepes can be made a day ahead and stored with parchment sheets between each in the refrigerator.
Any of these components would be delicious on their own and could certainly be used in other applications. For example, the glaze recipe is one I have used for many years… long before I saw this recipe with perfect results every time.
The stacking can be tricky. Move quickly yet cautiously. Be sure to not go to the edge with the filling. The weight of the stack will smash the filling down substantially.
You may need to manhandle the stack a bit before placing it in the refrigerator to chill/firm to get a nice shape.
Speaking of the refrigerator… make room before you begin assembly.
I placed a metal spatula under the first crepe and propped up the end with a small bowl to make it easier for me to transfer the cake when done.
After firming up, some of the liquid from inside will pool around the bottom. Wipe it away before serving.
Prepare your work area in advance of making the candied hazelnuts. Have tray on floor and books or cutting board ready to weigh down skewers. You could also do this from the bottom shelf of an open upper cabinet with the tray on the counter beneath.
When dipping the hazelnuts in amber syrup, try to avoid the area closest to the skewer. This will make is much easier for you to remove it without the risk of breaking the candy shell.
For the crepes:
- ¾ cup cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 1 ½ cups flour
- 1/3 cup sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 ½ cups whole milk at room temperature
- 6 eggs at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
For the filling:
- 2/3 cup heavy cream
- 6 large egg whites at room temperature
- 1 2/3 cups sugar
- 1 ¾ cups unsalted butter, in pieces, softened
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/3 cup Nutella
- Pinch of salt
For the glaze:
- 1 ¼ cups heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
- Pinch salt
- 10 ounces dark or bittersweet chocolate
For the hazelnuts:
- 12 hazelnuts, toasted and peeled
- 1 cup of sugar
- ¼ cup water
For the crepes:
- Bring ¼ cup water to a rolling boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat.
- Add butter a piece at a time. Whisk to incorporate after each addition.
- Remove from heat and stir in chocolate until fully melted. Set aside.
- In one bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt. In another bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, and vanilla.
- Gradually add wet to dry ingredients. Whisk until smooth.
- Add chocolate and butter mixture and whisk until smooth again.
- Strain through a mesh strainer to remove any lumps.
- Place in the refrigerator in an airtight container for at least 2 hours.
- Lightly coat an 8” nonstick pan with cooking oil.
- Get pan almost smoking hot over medium heat. Add between 2 and 3 tablespoons of batter to the pan.
- Swirl around to set. Turn over after about 30 seconds. Cook 30 seconds on the opposite side.
- Continue cooking the remainder of the crepe batter. Cool completely.
For the filling:
- Whisk the cream on medium-high speed to soft peaks (3-5 minutes). Place in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
- Whisk egg whites and sugar in a mixing bowl over a pot of simmering water. Heat mixture to 160˚ while whisking.
- Beat (with the whisk attachment) on high speed until cooled and stiff peaks form (about 5 minutes).
- Replace whisk with the paddle attachment. While on medium-low, add several pieces of butter at a time until all are added and incorporated. Add vanilla, Nutella, and salt. Mix until well incorporated (4-5 minutes).
- Gently fold in whipped cream. Use immediately.
For the glaze:
- Place cream, corn syrup, and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to boil stirring occasionally.
- Remove from heat. Pour in chocolate and swirl the pan to cover the chocolate with hot cream.
- Let stand for 5 minutes. Whisk until chocolate is melted and smooth. Cool completely.
For the hazelnuts:
- Skewer 6 of the hazelnuts with a long bamboo skewer. Set aside.
- Heat the sugar and water in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Stir occasionally until sugar dissolves and comes to a boil.
- Continue boiling without stirring until the syrup becomes light amber in color. Remove crystals during cooking by brushing sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in water.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool for 7 minutes.
- Dip the skewered hazelnuts in the hot syrup. When a string forms rest the skewer on the counter with the nut hanging over the edge. Place a pan on the floor to catch any excess syrup. Place a book or cutting board on the skewer to hold in place.
- Cool nuts for 5 minutes before breaking off the string at about 4-6 inches. Remove skewers.
- Break remaining nuts in half by pressing with the heel of the hand.
- Place a crepe on a wire rack with a rolled edge baking sheet underneath.
- Spread about 2 tablespoons of the hazelnut cream on the crepe ending about 1 inch from the edge.
- Alternate crepes and filling finishing with a crepe.
- Chill for 30 minutes.
- Place about ½ cup of the glaze in a small bowl. Set aside.
- With a spoon, drizzle the glaze over the side of the crepes starting at the bottom and working your way up.
- Pour the remaining ½ cup of glaze in the center of the top of the cake and smooth out to have it spill just a bit over the edge.
- Return to the refrigerator for at least 3 hours before cutting.
- Transfer to a cake plate. Top with candied hazelnuts and chopped hazelnuts.