Ahh, the day after Christmas. The stockings have been un-stuffed and the presents shared. And while December 25th marks The Christmas Holiday, the 26th of December is just as special.
It’s an echo of the day past; you can practically hear the holiday bells ringing, the carolers singing, and the echoes of merry-Christmas-es resounding in the distance. The tree is still hung and the decorations dangling. Though we know Christmas is over, it doesn’t feel like it yet.
To me, the 26th means sleeping in late and waking up to a still full house. It means walking around in your Christmas PJs just so you can squeeze out every ounce left of Christmas there is left.
Our hearts are still open and warm, and so are our bellies. And with that comes that insatiable hunger known around these parts as a “winter belly.” It’s as if your stomach knows the cold is here to stay, and that in order to stoke your inner fire, you just need to eat that extra slice of pie, or cake… or both.
So in honor of our winter bellies, I offer this Hazelnut Chocolate Crepe Cake. The recipe comes from my dear friends at King Arthur Flour, with whom I’m partnering to celebrate the last few days of the year. Of course, there’s still New Year’s Eve to plan for, and what better way to ring in 2017 than with a 40-layer crepe cake?
It was remarkably easy to put together, and especially fun to do with the boyfriend. We had a great time taking turns spreading layer after layer of delicious chocolate hazelnut pastry cream (and sampling it as we went). It cut like a dream, and tasted rich and delicate at the same time.
How to make crepes
Homemade crepe cakes are one of those desserts that look incredibly intricate and difficult to make, but that are secretly one of the easiest desserts to whip up. But however easy they are to make and assemble, they do take a lot of time. This hazelnut chocolate crepe cake recipe takes almost three hours to make, but most of that time is spent waiting for the batter to thicken up and for the cake to set.
Now, onto the part of this cake I know you’re most nervous to tackle: the crepes. Crepes are essentially paper thin pancakes that the French are lucky enough to enjoy whenever they feel like. Crepes themselves aren’t that sweet, and they can be filled with any number of sweet or savory fillings.
To make crepes, you’ll need a legit crepe pan or a large non-stick skillet (about 12 inches or so). To make the crepe batter, it’s just a matter of whisking together all the ingredients (you might need to sift in the cocoa powder and flour to avoid a lumpy batter). You’ll then need to let the batter rest for a good 30 minutes, or until small bubbles start to form on top. This step is crucial, so don’t skip it!
Once the batter has had sufficient time to rest, you can finally make the crepes. Your crepe pan should come with directions, but if you’re using a regular skillet I recommend following my girl Martha’s instructions on how to make crepes. Let the crepes cool before assembling the crepe cake—you shouldn’t have any issues with the rest of the steps in this recipe!
Be sure to hop over to King Arthur Flour to see my guest spot at their Holiday Table. I’m totally completely honored to be a part of their celebrations, and cannot recommend KAF enough.
And the squeezy-est of hugs to you all, who I am also totally completely honored to share this small part of the world with. I LOVE YOU!
3/4 cup chocolate hazelnut spread, such as Nutella
For the crêpes
In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and cocoa. If the cocoa has any lumps be sure to break them up or sift them out.
Whisk in the eggs, milk and butter and continue to whisk until the mixture is smooth. Pour the batter through a strainer into a clean bowl, cover and set aside for 30 minutes.
Towards the end of the rest period, preheat your crêpe pan according to the manufacturer’s direction. Cook a test crêpe or two, and adjust the batter with milk if it is too thick to work with. Cook the rest of the crêpes, you’ll need about 18 to 20 for the cake.
Cool the crêpes while you prepare the homemade Pastry Cream (recipe linked above). You will need approximately 2 cups of cooled pastry cream.
To make hazelnut pastry cream Warm the chocolate hazelnut spread in the microwave for 20 seconds, or until it is soft and almost pourable. Whisk the warm spread into the pastry cream, and continue to whisk until it is lump free.
To assemble the cake: Stack 3 crêpes on a serving plate and spread with 2 tablespoons of hazelnut pastry cream. Continue to layer a single crêpe and 2 tablespoons of filling until you are nearly out of crêpes. For stability, occasionally layer two or three crêpes instead of one single crêpe.
End with a layer of 3 crêpes. Wrap the cake well in plastic wrap, using a little pressure to keep the cake pressed down. Chill for at least 60 minutes, or up to overnight. Slice in wedges to serve.