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Sunday, August 10, 2014

Recipe: Mille Crepe Cakes



Recipe: Mille Crepe Cakes

Baked 08.08.14


Yes, the Mille Crepe Cake is labor intensive. Made of layer upon layer of delicate crepes and fillings, patience and precision is key to successfully executing one of these beauties. But few things are as rewarding or as tasty as 20 perfectly stacked layers of deliciousness!


This week, I enjoyed pulling together both a sweet and a savory version of the Mille Crepe Cake. Together, they're a complete meal in cake form. Now that is hard to beat!

Final Oreo Salted Caramel Mille Crepe Cake


Descriptions


The Sweet - The Oreo Salted Caramel Mille Crepe Cake: 
Oreo / Salted Caramel / Chocolate Pastry Cream

A Mille Crepe Cake is amazing in its own right. Without exaggeration, there's no texture that compares to layers of paper thin crepes and smooth pastry cream. 

Add a healthy portion of Oreo Cookie crumbs every few layers, and encase the entire cake with a  salted caramel coating, and you have a Mille Crepe Cake that transcends the ridiculous to the sublime (or is it the other way around?)


Oreo Salted Caramel Mille Crepe Cake Slice


The Savory - The Doritos Taco Mille Crepe Cake
Doritos / Seasoned Ground Beef / Pinto Beans / Sour Cream / Pepper Jack Cheese / Cilantro

It's not pretty. It's not refined. But it's a mighty fine Frankenfood... 

I would like to think of the Doritos Taco Mille Crepe Cake as something a Parisian 7-Eleven would serve. Can't you see it, a crowd of mimes seated at street cafe tables, white-gloved fingers coated in neon orange cheese dust?

After this cake is assembled, it gets some additional love in the oven to get all of those layers to melt together into a truly fantastic, cheesy monstrosity.

Doritos Taco Mille Crepe Cake



- The Recipes -



Basic Crepe:


Crepes are more or less unleavened pancakes made from a simple mix of milk, egg & flour and cooked briefly in a shallow frying pan. The thin format makes them perfect for folding with various fillings.

Don't let anyone convince you otherwise: Crepes are easy to make!

Yes, they are thin and, as a result, somewhat delicate. But after a few practice rounds at the stove, I believe anyone can turn them out with ease. Remember: "It's just batter!" - if a few come out less than perfect, so what? That's why we have pets!



Yield25 Crepes of 10" diameter (approximately 1/4 Cup of batter per crepe)

Prep Time
  • Active: 5 minutes
  • Batter Resting: 30 - 60 minutes
  • Cooking Time: 2 - 3 minutes per crepe

Ingredients:
  • Whole Milk - 640g (2 2/3 Cups)
  • Eggs - 6 Count 
  • All Purpose Flour - 180g (1.5 Cup)
  • Salt - 1 Tsp
  • Butter (melted) - 56g (4 Tbls / 0.5 Sticks)

Chef’s note: This recipe uses slightly more milk than most traditional recipes in order to create thinner crepes. Adjust the amount of milk depending on the desired thickness of your crepe. The fat from the butter adds to the richness and also brings a slight crispiness to the crepes.


Directions

1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the milk and eggs. In a separate bowl, combine the flour and salt. Stir the flour into the milk & egg mixture and whisk until smooth. Do not over-mix.

2. Allow the batter to rest for 30 - 60 minutes

Chef’s note: A good crepe batter should have minimal gluten formation. To limit gluten formation, do not over-mix. Resting the batter is also critical - it gives the starches in the flour time to fully hydrate. It also allows air bubbles to escape from the batter, reducing the amount of steam-generated leavening when the crepes are cooked.

3. Gently stir the melted butter into the batter. Heat a crepe pan (or a shallow frying-pan) over medium heat. Using a paper towel, lightly brush the pan with canola oil (rebrush the pan after each crepe).

Chef’s note: Non-stick pans are very effective for making crepes; however, the most important factor in successfully cooking a crepe is making sure that the pan is sufficiently hot before adding the batter. Crepes will stick to a cold pan.

4. Ladle 1.5 - 2.0 ounces (approximately 1/4 cup) of batter into the center of the hot pan. Immediately tilt and swirl the batter to evenly cover the bottom of the pan. Cook the crepe until the edges begin to crisp and pull away from the pan - about two minutes. Flip the crepe and cook the opposite side for no more than 30 seconds.

Chef’s note: Flipping the crepe is easiest with your fingers. With a little practice (and dry hands), the heat from the pan should not be a problem. Using a spatula, as you would with pancakes, will likely result in tears (and tears).



Pastry Cream:



Ask 10 pastry chefs for their pastry cream recipes, and you'll probably get 15 versions. Pastry cream is a true workhorse in the pastry world, used as the filling in everything from eclairs to profiteroles and donuts.

(Follow the link for my all purpose Pastry Cream Recipe

This version uses a combination of corn starch and flour as thickening agents: flour alone can lead to a gummy consistency. This recipe also incorporates 0.5 Cup (about 10% by volume) of heavy cream that has been whipped to lighten the consistency - better for a Mille Crepe Cake filling.


Yield: About 5 Cups 

Prep Time
  • Active: 20 minutes
  • Cooling: 2 hours

Ingredients:
  • Whole Milk - 960g (4 Cups)
  • White Granulated Sugar: 200g (1 Cup)
  • Egg Yolks - 4 Count 
  • Whole Eggs - 2 Count
  • All Purpose Flour - 15g (1/8 Cup)
  • Corn Starch - 50g (1/3 Cup)
  • Salt - 1 Tsp 
  • Vanilla - 1 Tsp 
  • Cocoa Powder (optional) - 15g (3 Tbls)
  • Heavy Cream (for whipping) - 120g (0.5 Cup) 

Directions

1. In a heavy saucepan, bring the milk and sugar just to the boiling point. Stir the mixture frequently as milk and sugar burn easily. 

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the whole eggs and egg yolks. Add the flour, cornstarch, cocoa powder and salt, whisking until smooth. 

3. When the milk reaches temperature, slowly pour approximately half of it into the egg mixture in a steady stream while actively whisking. Adding the hot milk too quickly can cause the eggs to cook and curdle. If the eggs appear to have cooked slightly, pass the mixture through a fine mesh sieve.

4. Transfer the mixture back to the large saucepan and return it to medium heat. Stir the mixture constantly as reaches the boiling - about five minutes. The mixture will thicken significantly as it cooks. As soon as bubbles begin to form, immediately remove the saucepan from the heat and continue whisking as to mixture cools - about two minutes. Whisk in the vanilla.

5. Transfer the pastry cream to a heatproof container and cover it with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap down onto the surface of the cream to prevent a skin from forming. Place the pastry cream in the refrigerator until cool - approximately 2 hours.

6. Once the pastry cream has cooled, whip the heavy cream to stiff peaks. Fold the whipped cream into the pastry cream.

Chef’s note: Adding the whipped cream is optional. It creates a lighter final product, which is better for the Mille Crepe Cake. However, a thicker pastry cream may be preferred for eclairs, profiteroles or other pastries.



Salted Caramel Cream Sauce:

This is just about the easiest caramel sauce recipe you can find. Add a little butter (2 Tbls) for additional richness.



Yield1.5 Cups 

Prep Time
  • Active: 15 minutes

Ingredients:
  • White Granulated Sugar - 200g (1 Cup)
  • Heavy Cream - 120g (0.5 Cup) 
  • Salt - 1 Tsp

Chef’s note: The thickness of the sauce is determined by the amount of heavy cream added to the caramel. A sauce using less than 0.5 Cup of cream per 1 Cup of white granulated sugar may be too thick to pour at room temperature.


Directions

1. Remove the cream from the refrigerator so that it warms to room temperature. Put the white granulated sugar into a medium-sized, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium high heat. Heat the sugar until it melts and turns amber. Stir the sugar as little as possible; rather, adjust the placement of the saucepan over the heat to ensure that the sugar melts evenly. 

Chef’s note: Stirring can result in crystallization. Don't stir!

2. Continue heating the sugar until it turns a deep amber - about five to ten minutes total heating time. While whisking rapidly, slowly pour the room temperature cream into the hot caramel. Be careful: the sugar is extremely hot and the cream will bubble and steam when added. Bring the mixture to a boil, whisking until the caramel and cream are completely incorporated - about two minutes.

Chef’s note: The darker the color of the caramel, the deeper the flavor. But be careful not to burn the caramel before adding the cream.

3. Remove the caramel from the heat and add the salt. Allow the sauce to cool. It will thicken as it cools.

Chef’s note: Salt is extremely important in bringing out the full flavor of the caramel. Salt-free caramel tastes flat.



- Assembly Tips -



Oreo Salted Caramel Mille Crepe Cake:


Assembling the Mille Crepe Cake is all about patience and precision. Take your time. Early goofs, such as spreading the pastry cream in uneven layers, are basically impossible to correct as you go.

These directions assume a 10" cake with 20 layers.

Ingredients:
  • Crepes - 25 Count (see above recipe) - the extra crepes are helpful backups
  • Pastry Cream - 5 Cups (see above recipe)
  • Caramel Cream Sauce - 1.5 Cups (see above recipe) 
  • Oreo Crumb - 11.25oz bag of Oreo Cookies, split, separated from cream, and crushed

1. Make a full recipe of 25 crepes so that you can select the 20 most consistently sized for the cake.

2. Place the first crepe on a greased surface - ideally a round cake tray that is slightly larger than your crepes.

3. For a 10" cake, use about 1/4 cup of pastry cream filling at each layer. Spread the filling from the center of the crepe to the edges. Be conscious of the tendency to spread the filling too thin at the edges. It is extremely important for the filling to be spread evenly all the way to the edges; otherwise, the cake will begin to peak in the center and sag towards the edges. Unevenly spread filling will become more and more noticeable with each layer.

4. Gently place the next crepe on top of the pastry cream being extremely mindful of lining up the edges with the previous layer. Do not push down on the cake!

5. Continue layering the 20 crepes and pastry cream. If desired, dust a layer of Oreo Cookie crumb over the pastry cream for additional chocolate flavor (consider adding the dust every four layers or so for some variety).

6. Place a final crepe on top of all of the filled layers. Do not add pastry cream to the top of the cake.

7. Pour the room temperature caramel cream sauce over the top of the cake. Gently rotate the cake tray so that the caramel pours evenly down the sides of the cake. Dust the top of the cake with Oreo Cookie crumb.

8. Before serving, put the cake in an airtight plastic container and allow it to set for at least four hours in the refrigerator (the cake will be almost impossible to cut if it does not rest). To cut the cake, use a sharp carving knife or a serrated bread knife that can easily slice, not crush, the delicate layers.  

Oreo Salted Caramel Mille Crepe Cake Cross-Section

Cream Layer - Oreo Salted Caramel Mille Crepe Cake

Oreo Dust Layer - Oreo Salted Caramel Mille Crepe Cake

Oreo Dust Layer - Oreo Salted Caramel Mille Crepe Cake

Caramel Layer - Oreo Salted Caramel Mille Crepe Cake


Doritos Taco Mille Crepe Cake:


Not as delicate a creation as the Oreo Salted Caramel Mille Crepe Cake, this savory version is baked after it is assembled so that all of the various fillings can bubble and melt together for a truly over-the-top creation. 

These directions assume a 10" cake with 20 layers.

Ingredients:
  • Crepes - 25 Count (see above recipe) - the extra are helpful backups
  • Doritos - 8oz, crushed
  • Seasoned Beef - 16oz ground beef, finely chopped and browned with spices to taste 
  • Pepper Jack Cheese - 8oz, grated
  • Sour Cream - One 16oz container
  • Pinto Beans - One 15oz can, drained and pureed
  • Cilantro - to taste
  • Lime - garnish, to taste

1. Make a full recipe of 25 crepes so that you can select the 20 most consistently sized for the cake.

2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 

3Place the first crepe on a greased surface - ideally an oven-safe round cake tray that is slightly larger than your crepes.

Chef’s note: The following filling instructions are merely suggestions - adjust according to your personal cravings and tastes. Just keep in mind that consistently level layers are important as you build. Chunky salsas and other uneven textures will make for a messy (but still delicious) cake.

4. Evenly spread about 1/4 cup of pinto bean puree onto the crepe. Cover the puree with fresh cilantro (to taste). Cover the pinto bean layer with another crepe, ensuring that the sides of the next crepe perfectly align with the previous layer. Cover the crepe with one fifth of the cooked ground beef (the more finely minced the beef, the easier it will be to get a smooth layer). Cover the beef with slightly less than one fifth of the grated pepper jack cheese (you need cheese for 5 layers as well as more to bake on top of the cake), creating a smooth layer. Cover the beef & cheese with another crepe, once again ensuring that the sides of the next crepe perfectly align with the previous layer. Cover the crepe with about 1/4 cup of sour cream. Cover the sour with another crepe, yet again ensuring that the sides of the next crepe perfectly align with the previous layer. Dust the crepe with a fine layer of crushed Doritos (or use more Doritos, if desired... just remember that Doritos are salty). Repeat the layering for a total of 20 layers.

5. Place a final crepe on top of all of the filled layers and cover the cake with the remaining pepper jack cheese. 

6. Place the cake on a sheet pan and cover with aluminum foil. Bake the covered cake in the oven for 35 - 40 minutes or until the cheese has fully melted. Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool for 5 - 10 minutes before serving.

Doritos Taco Mille Crepe Cake Cross-Section



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