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Darkest Chocolate Crepe Cake

Don’t be fooled by how cute these look…I am almost 100% convinced I will not make them again…at least not like this…

These three chocolate crepe cakes were actually part of a bigger group of 10, and shamelessly served to my dinner guests so I could complete my April Daring Baker challenge and tell you all about it. Remember the croissants or red velvet cakes? Yep, it is that time of the month again and our group grew even bigger this time so if you see 29 other Chocolate Crepe Cakes in various sizes and flavors, do not reset your computer. We decided to go big, go high…except with my never ending love of individual desserts I went small but high. But fear not, from all our discussions it appears that all of us have had very different experiences with the same recipe, so I urge you to read all the other Daring Bakers’ posts to have a idea and in some cases a good laugh.

Don’t get me wrong, the guests were delighted with the presentation, all those caramel dipped hazelnuts and mini caramel corkscrews. Yes, I could have gone another road and make it exactly asand I love crepes. For crying out loud, I come from the country of crepes, I make them every February for the Chandeleur, I even once made over 100 for our Girl Scout troups meeting! Yet, I hated these!

I had no major trouble making the crepes, except that the batter was thicker than what I like to work with and the chocolate flavor did not really come through despite the 70% Lindt chocolate that I used. I like crepes on the lighter side, the ones I can swirl easily in a hot sauté pan with a slight and graceful wrist movement (or so I like to think!); the ones that have tiny microscopic holes in them once cooled thanks to a little added beer to bring some air into them. In my case, Martha’s crepes were on the heavy side, kind of gummy, took longer to cook and required much patience while being flipped and handled. I ended up with about 30 crepes. To make the mini cakes, I took out 3 inch metal rings, cut out rounds in the crepes and began alternating filling and crepes until I had used all the crepes.

The icing was the part that I liked the least. It was a thin ganache, which made it easy to spoon on top of the cakes but it slid down the sides way too fast to cover them nicely. Looking at Martha’s picture I understand that it was to show the essence of the cake, kind of like “rustic ingredient (crepe) goes to the ball (caramel work)”, but that did not do it for me…I like smooth when it comes to chocolate icing….

Now the filling was another story! “Awesome” pretty much describes it. When Brilynn chose the recipe (Martha Stewart’s) this month, she was kind enough to let us play with the original and some of us decided t go another route. I originally made a blood orange cream, inspired by a lemon one from Pierre Herme , but it was so good we ended up spooning it on toasts, brioches, scones, anything but the crepes…shame on us, but that cream is so good it deserves its own post, so I went for the filling given in the recipe but made my own hazelnut paste (see end of post) because unlike Martha I did not find any “hazelnut cream” anywhere…that was too vague for my taste. I could eat this filling simply with a spoon and it would be fantastic in a macaron or sandwiched in 2 thin shortbread cookies.

The final component of the cake was the caramel….and this is when I usually do a happy dance. I absolutely love working with caramel, but was not always the case but I had a great teacher in Old Chef and I am continuously learning from him. He is the same one who made me handle boiling hot sugar with my bare hands (burning them) almost 8 years ago so I “would get used to it”…(crazy old French man!) and yet I love him and love working with him. I disgress… To me caramel is as confusing, fun, tantrum-prone, and alive as yeast. There is always room for improvement and always thousands of way to handle it. At home, I use all kinds of weird contraptions to play with hot sugar. I duct tape 2 wooden spoon to my countertop above the dishwasher, open the door and spun my sugar in between the spoons. Once I am done, close the dishwasher door and turn it on…and voila…clean up done.

I thought about doing it nice little nest of spun sugar but I had already done that for the Chocolate Intensity challenge and I feared the mini cakes would get drowned under them, so I kept it pretty simple and clean. (Very Martha said B.) For the caramel hazelnuts I attached them to long skewers dipped them into the caramel, stuck the skewers into an apple and balanced the apple above the dishwasher. For the corkscrews, I lightly oiled a metal skewer and twirled the caramel around it. Let it dry a minute and let it slide off onto a lightly oiled parchment paper lined baking sheet. Make sure the caramel is thick enough to play with. One easy cooling method is to put your pan into a larger one filled with ice as soon as your caramel has taken on the right color on the stove. If it gets too thick, simply reheat on low for a minute. Oh, and have scissors near by in case those caramel strands start taking on a life of their own!

To sum up: it was kind of a mixed bag of feelings for me this month. Too much fuss for an okay cake. I can’t talk for the other gals just yet but I suspect that there were as many different experiences and opinion as they were Daring Bakers involved. The techniques employed are not difficult to master even for a novice ( ok-ok- I am the weirdo that thinks that practicing flipping crepe should be a Sunday activity!), but the batter consistency makes it a pain. Texture wise, I am guessing that unless you use good quality chocolate you won’t taste it much in the final product. Taste wise, it is a shame to say but the filling makes the cake.

To see what my fellow Daring Bakers have done, check out the drop down menu on the right side of this blog.

Hazelnut Paste, from Cook’s Thesaurus
Coarsely chop one pound roasted hazelnuts. In a food processor or blender, finely grind about 1/3 of the nuts at a time, until mealy. Add egg whites from 3 large eggs, 2 cups powdered sugar and 2 teaspoons hazelnut liqueur. Blend until paste forms. Wrap and store in a covered container, up to 2 weeks. Makes 2-3 cups

Update: per Lisa’s request here is my unprofessional technique to let my caramel dry…:

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Anonymous April 29, 2007 um 2:26 pm

Hi Helene! Absolutely GORGEOUS! I love how you made them into single serving sizes, and your caramel corkscrews are just amazing! I laughed at your comments about the blood orange cream…
Excellent post, and excellent observations.

Ilva April 29, 2007 um 2:38 pm

They are so pretty! I admire the work you put into this, I think I’m a tad too lazy nowadays when it comes to ornamentation and such! Bravissima!

Thistlemoon April 29, 2007 um 2:46 pm

Wow, those look almost too good to eat!
I love the way you describe all your steps in such detail!

Anonymous April 29, 2007 um 2:53 pm

Oh Helene,

It’s suddenly become very warm in here! I feel faint as I stare at those little beauties. Those crepe cakes are just incredible. Just incredible!!!

Anonymous April 29, 2007 um 2:58 pm

The little baby crepe cakes are gorgeous, just right to pop in the post, ahem!

breadchick April 29, 2007 um 3:04 pm

They are so CUTE! And the swizlestick candied hazelnuts are to die for. Helene, I am writing YOU for crepe advice as I want to make them again, just not with Ms. Stewart’s recipe

MyKitchenInHalfCups April 29, 2007 um 3:18 pm

I am awe struck quiet with corkscrews!

Philo aux fourneaux – Blog culinaire April 29, 2007 um 3:20 pm

It’s wonderful !

Anonymous April 29, 2007 um 3:21 pm

I speak a very bad english. German, french, polish, it’s ok for me but english. However, I believe that I have not forgotten how one can express its feeling of satisfaction. Quand je vois ton gâteau de crêpes, je dis : YES YES YES, j’en veux encore et encore!

Lis April 29, 2007 um 3:23 pm

Absolutely amazing!! I am in love with your lil cakes and your corkscrews! I only wish I had a metal skewer in the house this morning. hehee

Also, I think you should post the picture of the apple.. *grin*

Beautiful! Just beautiful!


Elle April 29, 2007 um 3:34 pm

Absolutely divine! I love that you detail how you make your amazing creations, it means that I can give them a try later! I don’t know if I could even dare to try the crepe cake (it sounds like way too much work for me!), but I have a birthday cake to make in a month’s time and I had better practice my corkscrews 😉

Anonymous April 29, 2007 um 3:59 pm

beautiful work, Helene, the decorations are wonderful (as is your dishwasher technique) and everything looks cuter in mini-form. But please, I´m begging you, no crepes for May´s challenge!

Chantal33 April 29, 2007 um 4:39 pm

Congratulations! that’s so cute!

Freya April 29, 2007 um 4:52 pm

Mini ones! My husband said I should make those but I said 'are you crazy?' And you made 10! They do look so cute and I love the curly sugar twists! WOnderful!

Sophie François April 29, 2007 um 5:28 pm

Beautiful and so cute! 🙂

Anonymous April 29, 2007 um 5:58 pm

your cakes are just adorable…they’re very cute when they’re small like that. what a hard work you did and I love your caramel hazelnut too!

Kelly-Jane April 29, 2007 um 6:08 pm

Wow, they look amazing! That is clever to cut out rings of crepe so they are all the same size, and I love the caramel corkscrews, yum.

nini April 29, 2007 um 6:15 pm

miam, quel magnifique dessert!!

Elle April 29, 2007 um 6:41 pm

Great post Helene, and you cakes look so elegant! My favorite photo is the one with the dishwasher 🙂 Every baker should learn to use their appliances in unusual ways, right?
Thanks for details on the corkscrews. I was wondering how you did that.

Susan from Food Blogga April 29, 2007 um 7:02 pm

Whenever I need a "wow!" factor, I always know where to come. 🙂

Barbara April 29, 2007 um 8:15 pm

Oh my. I’m swooning down here in NZ.

Claudia April 29, 2007 um 8:23 pm

Wow. I am SO out of the running here. The carmel swirls totally pushed your gorgeous little cakes over the top. AWESOME job!

Fabienne April 29, 2007 um 8:39 pm

C’est réellement sublime, je suis restée bouche bée devant tes photos, en ce moment, je regrette d’avoir moins le temps de surfer sur les blogs !

Sher April 29, 2007 um 9:29 pm

I swear! I knew you would create a fabulous version of this cake–and you did! Just amazing, Helene. I always look forward to seeing your work.

Anh April 29, 2007 um 9:38 pm

This is fantastic! Your work is always adorable!

Alpineberry Mary April 29, 2007 um 10:45 pm

I expected nothing less than perfection from you and you didn’t disappoint!

Peabody April 29, 2007 um 10:54 pm

Yeah, you cared much more about your mini cakes than I did…beautiful. I especially love your dishwasher technique!

Valentina April 29, 2007 um 11:05 pm

Oh, you always amaze me Helene. These look fabulous!! It was already very hard as it was – I have failed on mine, and you made 10.Unbelievable.

Jenny April 29, 2007 um 11:41 pm

OMG those are so cute! And I am so glad you said how to make the corkscrews because I was about to plead with you to teach me how to do it!
I’m looking forward to the blood orange cream since I think if you took the butter out of the creme part, it would make an amazing mousse!

tammy April 30, 2007 um 12:25 am

Wow, that dishwasher trick is the most brilliant thing I’ve heard in a long time. Great job!

Anonymous April 30, 2007 um 12:35 am

Helene, you are amazing girl! I just read Lisa’s post and I vote that you are the official consultant for the Daring Bakers. I love your baby crepe cakes…they are worthy 5 star Diamond rated restaurant!

Brilynn April 30, 2007 um 12:44 am

I knew I could count on you to make this disaster of a cake look good!

I especially enjoy your dishwasher tip!

Mercedes April 30, 2007 um 12:53 am

I love that you made minis, and your sugar curls are exquisite. Lovely write-up.

Sara April 30, 2007 um 1:37 am

Those are darling! Your sugar is absolutly incredible! I’m blown away.

Anne April 30, 2007 um 2:46 am

Your caramel cork screw looks really cool 🙂

Kajal@aapplemint April 30, 2007 um 3:32 am

Oh my goodness Helen , these look divine , looking at all these wonderful creations of your u make me realize how much harder i need to work and make my posts half as beautiful as yours.Love the corkscrew caramels.

Mallow April 30, 2007 um 4:41 am

Even if they were a pain to make, I REALLY want to be eating them right now.

Meeta K. Wolff April 30, 2007 um 12:00 pm

I love the mini-ness of these cakes and I am insane about those corkscrews! Helene, you are a genius – you even thought about the clean-up. Hugs!

Glenna April 30, 2007 um 12:42 pm

Love the caramel work! That’s beautiful. The corkscrews are just so fun. Thanks for all your tips and showing your dishwasher trick. Who knew that appliance could be so versatile?

Anonymous April 30, 2007 um 4:21 pm

Those are absolutely gorgeous! And I love those corkscrews…I think I learned a lot about spinning sugar just from this post 🙂 Thanks for sharing your talents 🙂 (and love that apple "contraption")

Patricia Scarpin April 30, 2007 um 6:04 pm

Helene, these are the loveliest little things!
I love the way you presented the cakes – and what about those caramel curls?? I can’t picture how you made them – work of art, my dear!

Unknown April 30, 2007 um 6:36 pm

lovely presentation. gorgeous looking caramel. i’d love to learn how to make it. looks difficult, but it worths the effort i suppose.

Cheryl April 30, 2007 um 7:24 pm

Oh that is so great that you posted the picture of the dishwasher. Your corkscrew technique is amazing. When I saw the first picture of the cakes, I went "Wow".

Columbus Foodie April 30, 2007 um 7:56 pm

Love love love the caramel, and love the individual sized servings (although it would still be 2-3 servings for me, LOL).

You have truly rocked this challenge! 🙂

Anonymous May 1, 2007 um 12:37 am

Those are incredible! 100% incredible!

Connie May 1, 2007 um 6:07 pm

this recipe seemed to bug a lot of people doing the daring bakers… but each step caused different people different problems. and while everyone did a fabulous job and everything looked so wonderful- your caramel corkscrews are just the best!

Chris May 2, 2007 um 1:49 am

I agree with Connie. It is interesting reading all the trials and tribulations of the cake creations. And they all looke so beautiful!

Anonymous May 7, 2007 um 5:27 pm

Tout est vraiment génial, slpendide et meme somptueux? J’espère que tu nous réserveras une telle surprise à notre passage chez vous; continue ainsi, des photos sont aussi très belles. Je suis fière de ce que tu arrives à faire. Bises. Maman

Pille May 8, 2007 um 11:24 am

Helen, I understand that chocolate crepe cake was quite a challenge, but your individual portions look absolutely fabulous! And I love the caramel spirals!!

Mary July 8, 2007 um 10:30 pm

In Melbourne Australia, there’s a street called Acland street. It is famous with us and with tourists for its lovely cake creations. They are a delight on the eye and the palate. But I have to tell you that they pale into insigificance when I look at some of the creations on the Tartlette blog site. I’m going to have a go at making the crepe cake this weekend. Yummmmm.

Shella September 14, 2007 um 10:24 am

You leave me smitten with your baking & presentation skills.

Rachelle S February 12, 2008 um 10:48 pm

What a neat blog, another to add to my ever growing favorites! I googled spun sugar images (never made it before, and might try it tonight), and one of yours came up. What an ingenious way to make your corkscrews! 🙂

Off to look around some more!

jenniferhoiyin August 6, 2008 um 3:48 am

I love the caramel drying technique!! Can’t wait to try it myself 🙂

Spencer @ Moo-Lolly-Bar October 9, 2014 um 9:22 pm

They look almost too good to eat! I would so love to try some.

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