Sunday, 24 September 2006

A "Crepey" Experience: Nadia attempts Darkest Chocolate Crepe Cake

So one of the "rules" of Cook Teasers is that you should attempt to make something that you have never made before. a fit of mental instability, I decided to make Martha Stewart's Darkest Chocolate Crepe Cake - I had seen it in one of her magazines and also online and although a little daunted by the whole 'crepe' thing - I was a 'crepe-virgin' (although I had dabbled in a little 'pancake-petting' in my time) - I thought I would give it a go.
The next time I attempt such madness, please could someone give me a tranquiliser and order me to lie down? Although, in retrospect, the crepe part of the cake was the easiest, I was about done in by the cake filling.

To give you an idea of what the difference between fantasy and reality, check this out:



(Guess which is which??? Where is the height, people?? Where is the lofty loveliness??)

Something tragic happened in my kitchen, ladies and gentlemen. The crepes were fun to make but something went terribly wrong with the filling - way too soupy - it oozed out of the crepes and made a huge mess and a cake about half the height, much more crepey than filling-y. I put it down to having to substitute Dulce de Leche for the required hazelnut paste (an animal not to be found in these parts). In reading through the recipe again, I suppose I could have beaten the egg whites more but something tells me it was the Dulce that let me down. When I tried to spread the filling, it oozed everywhere instead of staying where it was put (bad boy!)
But in my defense the taste was good - quite mud-cake like and a real hit for chocolate lovers, which ironically, I am not. I was proud of my candied hazelnuts - they were fun to make - and they almost look like Martha's!

What I did to make this 'work' for me:

  • I made the batter for the crepes the day before.
  • I used a dip-style crêpe pan (see one here) that was very easy to use once I got used to it. I poured the batter into a shallow dinner plate from the larger bowl in order to coat the pan evenly. With this style of pan, there is no need to flip crêpes as long as they look as though they’re cooked through.

What I would do differently (should I be mad enough to try this again):

  • Unable to find hazelnut cream, I substituted Dulce de Leche, a milk toffee spread with, I think, disastrous results! Substituting the Dulce de Leche for the hazelnut cream, changed the texture of the filling so much that it became incredibly sloppy to deal with. In retrospect, I would have refrigerated the filling for a while. Even further, I think that I would have changed the filling entirely. I think the cake would be spectacular with a simple filling of whipped cream and Frangelico, keeping in with the hazelnut theme. Or a mix of whipped ricotta and that has me thinking...
  • Just had an insight - I think I misinterpreted one of the ingredients - the recipe calls for 'heavy cream' which I took to mean 'thick cream'. Now I realise I would have been better off just using a regular whipping cream, even with it having a lower fat content, as obviously that would have added some thickening agent to the other ingredients. In the words of the Almighty Homer - "D'oh!" I will attempt this again in about 6 months, once the medication has kicked in, and try with the other kind of cream - I feel quite silly really - will have to find a conversion table for Australian and US cream references to avoid said silliness in future. But, in my defense, I may have had a brain short-circuit because of my next point...
  • I would secure the services of a babysitter as there is nothing quite like battling a disaster in the kitchen and a two-year-old who wants to 'help' at the same time. Enough said.

General Observations about the recipe:

  • The quantities for both the filling and glaze seemed excessive. Even though the cake as I made it was smaller in size, it had as many layers as the original (about 30), I still had lots of filling and glaze left over even given that I didn't use as much of it because of its ooziness.
  • This cake has several components with lots of refrigeration periods – be sure to read through thoroughly so you don’t get caught out.
  • There’s a video showing Martha making it with Fran Drescher, of all people.

For the recipe, click here

1 comment:

Friend of the cook said...

Nadia, You just gave me my first good laugh of the day. I cannot believe I know someone who would even attempt to make that thing. Your blog is great, and I think I may try to make Christina's lime slice. They got my mouth watering.