So anyway the birthday forced me out of my non-cooking rut (all I can think of these days is salads!) and I put together this extraordinary cake made of crepes. It was so like me to choose the hottest day to make this cake, with its twenty or more layers wedged together with chocolate cream and cointreau chocolate ganache. As you can imagine it was like a muddy landslide as I built it up higher. The cream began to melt and I had to transfer it to the freezer with multiple props supporting it upright, just to finish the cake off. Hence, it was a little messy to put together and I highly recommend making this on a cooler day or in an air conditioned house, if it's a warm one.
All is well that ends well however, and after 20 minutes in the freezer, the cake was nicely set and ready to ice with more cream, lavish drizzlings of ganache and cointreau laced truffles rolled in cocoa powder.
The car trip is always eventful, and it did begin to look a little melty on the way. When we arrived it looked as if a few sheep had passed over the cake and left their droppings on the top--I kid you not! The ganache truffles had suffered in the summer heat and melted into oval pebble shapes, the cocoa having dissipated somewhat.
But despite what difficulties may have arrived due to that hot summer's day, the cake was delightful and quirky, surprising everyone with its brown and white layered effect on being cut. It was scrumptious too, the perfect balance of textures and flavours without being overly sweet, and held a subtle hint of orange liqueur. You can flavour it with any liqueur or essence as desired. Chocolate mint sounds mighty tempting to me.
CHOCOLATE COINTREAU GANACHE CREPE CAKE (adapted from Sprinkle Bakes)
CHOCOLATE COINTREAU GANACHE:
1 cup heavy cream
250g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
2 tbsp cointreau or triple sec
Place the cream in a medium saucepan over a medium-high heat. When it just begins to boil, remove from heat and stir in the chocolate until well combined and incorporated. Add the liqueur. Stir until smooth. Refrigerate. This ganache will thicken the longer it is cooled. If it is too thick when it comes to putting it in the cake, microwave briefly to thin out the mixture. The remainder of the ganache that is not used on or in the cake will be used to form the truffles. To get the ganache thick enough to roll into balls, you will need to refrigerate this for at least a day or overnight. I took 1/2 cup of the mixture and set it aside for truffles before putting any in the cake, just to make sure I had enough for the truffles.
2 cups milk
1 cup cream
2 tsp vanilla
4 cups plain flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup icing sugar
Place all the ingredients in a large bowl. Beat on high with your electric beaters until the mixture comes together in a batter as thick as heavy cream.
Place a 9 or 10 inch fry-pan on the stove, put at high and grease with a little butter. (I like to have a brush and a pot of melted butter by my side to speed this whole part up significantly). When the pan is hot and smoking, ladle a scant 1/4 cup into the fry pan and swirl a little if need be to cover the whole base of the pan. The crepe will rapidly lose its glossy sheen, then it's ready to slide out onto a plate (no flipping required). Brush the fry pan with a little melted butter and repeat the process until you have approximately 22 crepes. (To help speed the cooling process, you can set the crepes out on cooling racks for a few minutes. The crepes tend to get a bit sweaty sitting on top of each other when they come out of the pan)
CHOCOLATE COINTREAU CREME FILLING:
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
6 tbsp. granulated sugar
5 tbsp. cocoa powder (unsweetened)
3 tbsp cointreau or triple sec
Whip the cream on high in a large bowl. When the cream begins to thicken, gradually add the granulated sugar. Then add the cocoa. Gradually add the liqueur. Whip into stiff peaks.
To assemble, place one crepe in the centre of your serving platter. Spread it scantly with ganache, then spread it will a spoonful of the cream filling. Place another crepe on top of this and repeat until all the crepes are used up. Refrigerate the crepe stack to add some stability. If it is a warm day and begins to slide, prop up with some kitchen bits and bobs in the freezer for half and hour to stabilize.
You may wish to trim some edges if the cake is not as even as you would prefer.
Using the remaining cream filling, coat the sides and top using a butter knife.
Take the remaining ganache and set a little aside for truffles if you have not already done so. Refrigerate until thick and able to be rolled into balls and coated in cocoa powder.
Heat the last of the ganache slightly until fluid enough to spread on the top of the cake (make sure it is not warm enough to melt the cream!) Let a little drizzle down the sides of the cake.
Decorate with truffles if desired. Refrigerate until ready to serve.