My birthday was last month (33, gasp!) and one of my favorite gifts was the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, by Deb Perelman. She also writes a great blog if you haven’t seen it you should totally check it out.
One of my favorite things is cookbooks. I literally read them at bed time. I love this one, a lot. The pictures are great, the recipes are straight forward and informative, and her narrative couldn’t be better.
Anywho, this is the first recipe I’ve made from the book, and boy is it a winner. I made it for my mom’s birthday (Happy Birthday Mom!) who also happens to be a February baby.
This cake is a little time consuming, but its so good and totally worth the effort.
This cake takes a little planning ahead because the crepe batter and hazelnut pastry cream both need to chill. The crepe batter for only an hour (but up to two day, I made mine the day before) and the hazelnut cream has a quick chill method if needed (chill bowl of pastry cream in an ice bath), but other than that this recipe is very easy.
You start by making the crepes. DON’T BE AFRAID!!!! These are not hard! Once you get your rhythm going you will wonder why you were every scared in the first place. I used a 10 inch skillet, preheated over medium high heat (more toward medium than high), gave it a good spray with non stick spray, and used a 1/4 cup measure to measure out the batter.
Pour the batter in the skillet, give it good swirl, and then use a spatula and run it around the edges. Then, carefully pick up one of the edges with your fingers and flip it over. Cook a little longer on the other side, and there you have it. A perfect crepe. Every single one of my crepes turned out great.
Aren’t they pretty????
The next step is layering the crepes with the hazelnut pastry cream. I used my trusty 1/4 cup measuring cup again to measure out the pastry cream between each layer so my cake would not be lopsided.
I had to include this picture, with my new cookbook in the background. My cake looked exactly like pictures! That my friends, is the testament of a good recipe.
Once your cake is assembled, melt together some heavy cream and chopped chocolate to make the “chocolate draping”.
Top with some candied hazelnuts, and yum! This cake taste like Nutella, deconstructed.
Happy Birthday Mom!
- For the crepes:
- 9 tablespoons browned butter, cooled (reserve 3 tablespoons for hazelnut cream)
- 2⅓ cups whole milk
- 6 large eggs
- 1½ cups flour
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup sugar
- non stick spray
- For the hazelnut pastry cream:
- 1 cup hazelnuts (roasted and skinned)
- 2 teaspoons water
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 3⅓ cup whole milk
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 7 tablespoons sugar
- 5 large egg yolks
- 5 tablespoons cornstarch
- reserved browned butter (3 tablespoons)
- For the candied hazelnuts:
- ⅓ cup hazelnuts, skinned and roasted
- ⅔ cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons water
- pinch of salt
- For the chocolate draping:
- 6 oz (or 1 cup) semi sweet chocolate chips
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- For the crepes:
- In a blender combine the milk, eggs, flour, salt, sugar, and 6 tablespoons browned butter. Cover and chill for at least one hour, and up to 2 days. Preheat a 10 inch skillet over medium high heat. Spray with non stick cooking spray, pour ¼ cup of batter in pan and swirl around. When edges start to dry out a little (about 2 minutes), run a spatula around the crepe, and then using your fingers (be careful!) flip it over and cook on the other for about 30 seconds. Place on a paper towel lined plate. Repeat with the rest of the batter.
- For the hazelnut pastry creme:
- In a food processor grind 1 cup toasted and skinned hazelnuts, powdered sugar, water, and salt. Keep grinding until the powder starts to look like damp looking crumbs and combine in small clumps. Place the ground hazelnut paste in a medium saucepan, with milk, and sugar. Cook over medium heat, stirring every so often so it doesn't burn, until simmering. While milk hazelnut mixture is coming up to temperature, whisk the egg yolks and cornstarch together in a medium bowl. Slowly add 2-3 big spoonfuls of the hot milk mixture to the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Then whisk the egg yolks into a the warm milk mixture. It will thicken quickly. Remove from heat and stir in the reserved 3 tablespoons of browned butter. Press a piece of plastic wrap right on the surface of the pastry cream and refrigerate until cool.
- For the candied hazelnuts;
- Spread out a piece of parchment paper on a cookie sheets. Place sugar and water in a small saucepan. Cook over high heat until the sugar melts and starts to turn a pale beige color. Add a pinch of salt and the hazelnuts. Dump the whole mixture onto the lined cookie sheet, separating out each hazelnut. Let cool and then break apart.
- For the chocolate draping:
- Place the cream and chocolate in a heat proof bowl. Microwave on high for 1 minute. Let sit for 2 minutes. Stir until smooth. If needed, microwave more until chocolate is melted.
- Assemble the cake:
- Place a crepe on a cake platter. Spread ¼ cup hazelnut pastry cream over the top of the crepe. Repeat with remaining crepes and hazelnut pastry cream. You should have enough for about 16 crepes, with the last crepe set on top like hat. Pour chocolate draping over top of crepe cake, pushing a little over the sides. Sprinkle with candied hazelnuts. Keep in fridge until ready to eat.
Recipe from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman