This is one I’ve been wanting to try for a while.
For anyone unfamiliar with the concept, a crepe cake is essentially a seemingly infinite number of crepes stacked on top of each other and layered with cream filling, then chilled until the layers merge together into a delicious dessert that somehow manages to be rich and light at the same time and in the perfect way. I made my first crepe cake, a little number flavored with Grand Marnier, a couple of years ago on New Years Eve: it was delicious, but as happens too often the recipe was later filed away in the “been there, done that” section of my mental index in favor of new desserts.
But with the arrival of summer this year, I started thinking about crepe cakes again. This time, I thought, wouldn’t it be fun to try and make miniature versions, so that each person received not just a piece of the whole but his or her own personal crepe cake?
Once the idea was in my head, I couldn’t let it go: I began seeing every occasion as one that might call for individual crepe cakes. I even tried to convince my parents that crepe cakes would make a festive, practical dessert for our annual Fourth of July picnic, conveniently ignoring the fact that desserts for that occasion need to be:
- Easily mass-produced to feed an uncertain and exponentially expanding number of guests
- Easy to eat on the run, since we feed the fireworks crew and they grab dessert on the way to set up the show and
- Room temperature-friendly, since space in refrigerators apparently needs to be conserved for food like meat that can actually harm you if not kept cold.
…None of which applies to crepe cakes. But fortunately my parents didn’t have to work too hard to convince me of this, because my sister was coming home for a bridal shower and having seven friends over for dinner afterwards: the crepe cakes were go!
I’ll say this – crepes are tricky. I hadn’t made any since my original crepe cake, and after that amount of time it definitely wasn’t a “like riding a bicycle” skill. Over the course of several hours, I tried everything – making big crepes, making small crepes, making crepes poured inside circle cookie cutters – before finally getting the technique down (the trick was making big crepes – go figure). Once I had enough crepes, I used a 3-inch diameter circle cookie cutter to cut out smaller crepes from the large ones. Thankfully, throughout this process I had my sister’s friends helping me out in the kitchen; they were fantastically efficient at taste-testing crepe scraps for quality control, and took their responsibilities very seriously.
Once all of the smaller crepe circles were cut out, I layered them with the pastry cream I had made a couple of nights before, a process which resulted (many hours later) in 12 crepe cakes of approximately 25 layers each. With that, and with the realization that my diet up to 4:00 PM had literally consisted of nothing but crepes, pastry cream, and coffee, the crepe cakes were done: now they just had to chill and work their magic until it was time for dessert.
The whole evening was wonderful: Kate’s friends – a mix of her high school friends my parents and I known for years and New York City friends we’d heard so much about but never met – were charming and energetic dinner guests, and there was plenty of delicious food and rosé to go around. The crepe cakes turned out fantastically, and with extra pastry cream and raspberries on top were the ideal summer dessert. Two of Kate’s friends even had a shared birthday coming up, so we stuck a candle in their crepe cakes to celebrate (with – thankfully – less disastrous results than my last experience with the candles on Kate’s macarOon cake).
It was the perfect dessert to end a perfect night, and the best part is that we’ll be hosting many of Kate’s friends again when they return to Philadelphia for a wedding in August.
…Crepe cakes part deux, anyone?
Crepes & Pastry Cream: Both recipes come from this crepe cake posted on a blog called Olga’s Flavor Factory. Now, I have my favorite recipes from cookbooks and magazines, but when I need to bake something and have little to no experience with the recipes required, it’s baking blogs like Olga’s that come to my rescue; I’ve found a lot of great recipes thanks to the power of Google search! These crepe cake recipes were extremely helpful in that they could be prepared ahead of time, reducing what could have been a 12 hour baking day to something resembling more of an 8 hour one. Just make sure you have all of the necessary ingredients handy before jumping into this project; I had to make a double recipe of pastry cream and a triple recipe of crepe batter for my crepe cakes, and ended up using 23 eggs (and a correspondingly high volume of other ingredients) by the time I was done!