It's that time again. And, my oh my, how the Daring Bakers have grown! From just 2 (founders Ivonne and Lisa), to 5, 7, 10, 16, and now 30 members. For this month's challenge, we didn't bake, but we were definitely challenged. Brilynn's choice was Martha Stewart's Darkest Chocolate Crepe Cake. An extravaganza of delicate chocolate crepes layered with a hazelnut cream filling, covered with a glaze and adorned with candied hazelnuts. Sounds like heaven, right? Nope, it was more like hell.
Delicate, lacy crepes? Umm, not quite. And from the chatter among the Daring Bakers over the last couple weeks, I wasn't the only one who had trouble with the crepes. Some ladies made modifications to Martha's recipe from the get-go and others tried multiple batches before achieving something decent. I tried the crepe recipe just once and that was enough for me. I'm normally not a quitter in the kitchen, but crepes shouldn't be this difficult. But on the plus side, I had fun flipping my crepes. I flipped them by picking them up by the edges with my fingers and I only burned myself once. After the first 3 crepes, the rest turned out nicely. The flavor of the crepes was good but the texture was all wrong. And once my crepes cooled, they were a bit stiff.
Now, I love the Martha. Even during her tough times, I stuck by her. But even so, my success with her recipes has been 50/50. Although the crepe part was a bust, the meringue buttercream filling was delicious. Martha's recipe called for hazelnut cream but I used strawberry jam instead. And since the jam was already sweet, I decreased the amount of sugar called for in the recipe. The crazy amount of butter in the filling was a little scary too but when it's all whipped up, the filling was light as air.
Instead of making one 8-inch round cake with 32 crepe layers, I made 5 miniature cakes (4-inch round cakes with 12 crepe layers). From the beginning, I was really excited to try my hand at making caramel for the candied hazelnut decorations. I even tested my new candy thermometer in boiling hot water to make sure it was working properly. But as the deadline approached, my disappointment grew, and so did my disinterest in this recipe. In the end, I glazed the cakes and just served them with diced strawberries. It wasn't as breath taking and dramatic as "decorative nuts dipped in caramelized sugar and hung in bat fashion" but the tart strawberries were a nice, fresh addition to the all the chocolate and cream.
Would I have tried this recipe if it hadn't been part of the Daring Bakers' challenge? Probably not. Would I try this recipe again in the future? Definitely not. But despite my failed crepes, I still learned a lot. I hope the other ladies' crepe cakes fared better than mine. See my right sidebar for links to the other Daring Bakers.
Original recipe can be found on Martha Stewart's website.
Modifications I made to the original chocolate crepe recipe:
I decreased the amount of chocolate from 8 ounces to 5 ounces.
I used 3/4 cup flour + 3/4 cup cornstarch in place of 1 1/2 cups flour.
I added 1 tablespoon of Dutch processed cocoa powder.
Modifications I made to the original filling recipe:
I used strawberry jam instead of the hazelnut cream.
I decreased the sugar from 1 2/3 cups to 1 1/4 cups.
I omitted the candied nut decorations.