Thursday, May 10, 2007

Martha Stewart's Deepest Chocolate Crepe Cake - a la Daring Bakers

The Daring Bakers were at it again in April and I missed the due date for posting because I was on vacation. I'd arranged for a blog buddy to post on my behalf but the poor gal didn't realise that paranoid lil me had given her my password in code and forgotten to mention how to crack the code. Never mind; better late than not at all.

Brilynn of Jumbo Empanadas selected Martha Stewart's Darkest Crepe Cake as the Daring Bakers' challenge for the month of April and may I say that it was indeed a challenge. Judging by the comments from the other gals I was not alone. It's OK Brilynn we still love ya! Honest.

Yet another baking effort where my photographic skills leave much to be desired and I have decided that chocolate isn't a very photogenic food. It comes up too dark and you don't get any definition of shape and form. Things are not helped by the fact I have white dishes, a white countertop and white splashback.

My parents came to stay for the weekend that I had designated for crepe cake construction and I thought that the crepe making exercise would be the perfect mother/daughter activity although mum tells me that when we baked together when I was a youngster I used to say to her "Mummy why don't you have a smile on your face when we're baking?". She never told me what I did to piss her off.

While some of the crepe cake making was shared it was mostly me doing the work with Mum offering advice and guidance in the background. Mum proclaimed that I wasn't part of a daring bakers group I was part of a "messed up in the head " baking group. Well that's the polite translation; you work it out for yourself. We both decided that Martha must have devised this recipe while sitting in her prison cell as a particularly evil revenge on an unsuspecting baking public.

Let me tell you that this is not a recipe you'd want to use when you need something quick and easy. Did I mention it was a challenge? I started on Saturday afternoon by making the crepe batter which needed to stand for 2 hours or overnight. Into the bowl went an entire family sized block of chocolate. I like to try and use local products so I went for Whittakers Dark Ghana 72%. Then there was some butter added to the mixture. A LOT of butter I swear that Martha was channelling Paula Deen at this point and I could feel the kilos piling onto my hips already.

Mum had brought her electric crepe maker with her to see if it would simplify the process a little. If you've not seen a crepe maker check out this one by Villaware - yours for a mere $29 bucks. It's kind of like a little non stick hotplate on a handle. You simply (well that's easier said that done) turn it upside down and dunk the contraption ever so briefly - like for ONE second - into your batter, flip the crepe maker over and if you are lucky you have a perfect crepe. If you are not so lucky as was the case about 3 times out of 10 for me, the crepe mixture just plops back into the batter meaning you have to try and fish the lumpy bits out. One of the tricks is to have the crepe maker level. I ended up with two distinct piles. Perfect crepes that were the size of the entire crepe maker and not so perfect crepes that were undersized. Amazingly, they were all perfectly round. If you do use an electric crepe maker you need to be prepared to have batter from here to Africa, all over the bench, on the floor, on your shirt and in your hair. Mum says that the batter didn't behave as nicely as the plain ones she's made and she reckons it's probably because of the chocolate.

In the middle of making the crepes I took a wee break to beat the cream required for the hazelnut filling because that had to be refrigerated for an hour. I have no idea why - guess it had to be chilled. Perhaps Martha just wanted people using her recipe to waste more of their free time.

After the crepes were completed I set about making the filling which meant whisking egg whites and sugar over a bowl of simmering water then adding another unimaginable amount of butter and some hazelnut cream. There was some discussion among the Daring Bakers over what we should use as hazelnut cream and the majority went for Nutella or similar. I used 50% Nutella and 50% hazelnut paste which is a Turkish product made of ground hazelnuts and sugar that I discovered quite by accident on a recent foodie shopping expedition.

In a perfect world this cake should be very tall - 32 layers plus filling tall in fact. By about layer 24 my cake started to resemble the leaning tower of Pisa. If the challenge was "recreate the leaning tower of Pisa by using baked goods" I would have received an A+ for lean and an F for tower. However the combination of tender, silky crepes; smooth, creamy filling; and sticky chocolate was delicious albeit incredibly rich. Everyone at work who tried a piece thought it was fabulous. One person even said that I should be a professional *blush* and I can only assume they were going by taste and not looks.

I thank Brilynn for the challenge, no really I do; and I can say without a word of a lie that I will not make this particular recipe again but I can see potential for doing some creative stuff with crepes. I have a recipe in a new book I bought called "Wicked" that calls for plain crepes filled with a lemon curd filling but I wonder how it might go with my lemon mousse? Hmmmm

In the extremely unlikely event that you wish to experience for yourself the horror that is Martha's Darkest Chocolate Crepe Cake you can find the recipe here. Good luck; you'll need it!

Do check out the other Daring Bakers' blogs to see how much fun they had with this challenge. Some of the pictures will just blow you away with their beauty and decorative creativity.


MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

How wonderfully written!
I tried the crepe maker, once and returned it!
Lucky you to get to bake it with your mom.
It did taste good. The best part for me is that now I'm playing with real crepe making not Martha style.

Elle said...

Morven, I love the humor you found in this whole process. My cake leans some, too, but yours looks like it has more layers and I know it is delicious with all that butter and cream and chocolate and hazelnuts. The lemon mousse in regular crepes (with maybe some berry coulis) sounds lovely.

Quellia said...

LoL! Okay now I need to see a picture of you and your mother so I can put faces to the story! And I think you can safely tell your mom she isn't far wrong about us - Daring Baker's is our polite, public title, isn't it? :-)

Culinarily Curious said...

I love love LOVE your theory on how Martha dreamed up this recipe!

Lis said...

har! Fabulous post! I larfed out loud :D I know that even my The Martha can't ward off the charms of my The Paula. teee!

Yeah, I wouldn't have minded seeing you and your mom covered in batter either.. lol

I think your cake looks divine and again.. am so sorry I couldn't get it up in time! Doh.


Patricia Scarpin said...

I think it's so great that you posted it, Morven! It looks delicious!

Freya and Paul said...

Fabulous job with a tough cake! It does look professional, especially when in cross section!

Peabody said...

Your Martha theory made me laugh!

Baking Soda said...

I don't know if this cake is good for making but it sure makes for waves of laughter across the blogosphere. Great write-up!

Helen said...

Thanks for the giggle early in the morning! Great write-up and beautiful cake!

breadchick said...

What an absolute riot! I'm so glad you got your post up. It was the perfect swan song of write ups about our cakes!