Crepes are a seriously underrated French invention. For one, they’re not just an unleavened pancake meant for breakfast time.
One creative application is the crepe cake, a mountain of crepes layered with a sweet filling. When this towering “cake” is sliced and served, the cross-section view reveals each alternating layer of thin crepe and filling.
I created this particular cake one afternoon while instructing a class on crepe cookery. Having made 40 crepes alongside my students, I decided to get creative and layer them with chocolate ganache and jam (a great flavor combination), and per my usual predilection, a bit of booze. The result was a rustic-looking, mouthwatering dessert oozing bourbon-spiked ganache and homemade strawberry jam. It was fantastic — albeit a little messy. Not bad for a first try, though.
If you attempt this at home, feel free to switch it up and used different flavors of jam or even flavored whipped cream for a lighter filling. As for the crepes themselves, they’re quite simple to prepare — pull up a video on YouTube for a visual tutorial if needed.
Bourbon-Ganache and Strawberry Jam Crepe Cake
Makes 6-8 servings
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
One tablespoon sugar
One teaspoon vanilla
A pinch of salt
2/3 cup butter, melted
About 1 1/2 cups water
3/4 cup strawberry preserves
1 cup chocolate ganache (Nutella works just fine, too)
A tablespoon or two of bourbon, to taste
Put flour, eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla and salt into a blend for 20-30 seconds. With the motor running, drizzle in the melted butter and blend until smooth, making sure there are no lumps of flour. Pour in half of the water, blend and check the consistency. You’re looking for a heavy cream-like consistency, so add more water if necessary (though you may not need to use it all). Let batter rest for 10-15 minutes to let the bubbles settle and to let the gluten rest.
While the batter is resting, get out the ingredients for the fillings. Heat the chocolate ganache in a pan over low heat and stir in the bourbon. If you want to cook off the alcohol, keep it over low heat, stirring constantly, for a few minutes as to not let the chocolate break or burn.
To make the crepes: Heat a small to medium-sized non-stick pan to medium-high heat. Add about one to one-and-a-half ounces (liquid measurement) of batter to the center of the pan and quickly turn pan so the batter spreads out evenly. Let the crepe cook for about a minute or so. It will start to bubble in the middle. When the sides start to brown slightly and pull away from the pan, use a rubber spatula to lift it slightly off the pan, then using your fingers or the spatula, flip the crepe and let it cook for 10-15 seconds on the other side. You’re looking for slight browning on other side, but not overly browned as they should be soft and pliable. Slide them from the pan onto a plate, stacking them up as you go.
To fill: Lay the first crepe down on a large plate and spread about a teaspoon of the strawberry jam all over it. Place another crepe on top and spread about a teaspoon (or more) of the chocolate sauce all over it. Repeat this process until all of the crepes are used, save for the final one which will be the top of the cake.
Cut and serve immediately or, for a sturdier cake, refrigerate for about 30 minutes before slicing into it.
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