Monday, June 6, 2011

Cointreau Crepe Cake

My very first experience making crepe's was while I was living in Australia with my boyfriend's Aunt and Uncle. As a thank you for letting us live at their house for free for 3 months we would often cook dinner or other treats for the family. One thing we quickly learned- we DO NOT work well in the kitchen together! He would have one idea and I would want to do things my way, he would get in my way or touch something and I would get frustrated. It led to more than one yelling match, which we are able to joke about now thankfully. By the time I decided to try the Tyler Florence Blintz (sweet ricotta cheese mix filled crepes) recipe he had learned to stay out of the kitchen till it was time to do the dishes. One of the trickiest parts of cooking abroad was the need to convert all the measurements and temperatures, along with the fact that there were occasionally ingredients that were not available. I may have almost cried in the "Mexican" aisle at Safeway one day when I could find beans to make burritos. Luckily I was able to gather pretty much everything I needed for that particular recipe. My boyfriend's family is Hungarian so as I described to his uncle what I wanted to do he instantly declared "ahhh you are making Palacsintas! I used to make those all the time!" Palacsintas are Hungarian crepes served just as other crepes are with a variety of sweet or savory fillings. After I whipped up the batter he helped me perfect my technique showing me how to slowly tilt and swirl the pan just so to get a (basically) round thin crepe, showed me how to flip them over when the edges began to get golden, and helped me create a nice little stack of them to fold into Blintz's. With my new found crepe confidence I made this recipe many times at home purchasing a nice light and very flat Non-stick pan that made making the thin crepes much much easier. I soon experimented with different fillings (Nutella and strawberry's is always a hands down favorite, I always keep a nice big jar of Nutella around in case I need to whip up a batch for friends during a late evening gab session!)

A few months ago my mom and I had the Martha Stewart show on in the back round while doing things around the house. We were instantly engaged when her cooking segment began preparing a gorgeous layered crepe cake filled with thick hand made whipped cream. It looked exceptionally extravagant with its many layers and totally unique to any cakes I had seen before- I had to make one! We printed the recipe off the web-site and I carried it around for a little while but after a few weeks, like many recipes I become enthralled with, with no appropriate event to make it for I sort of forgot about it. I recently remembered the recipe and decide event be damned I would make it for fun and see how many girlfriends I could gather to eat it! Since I am very comfortable making both crepes and hand made whipped cream I was really pleased with how easy it was to make. My one frustration was that I don't have a blender (I know of all things not to have, a blender? really?) and that really is the best way to make smooth crepe batter. I tried to use a hand mixer which basically did the job however there were a few small lumps that for the life of me I could not get out. Thankfully they would be invisible in between the sumptuous layers of whipped cream.

Grand Marnier Crepe Cake: Gourmet Magazine March 2008

First Side
 Blend 6 eggs, 1 cup milk, 1/2 cup cream, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla with flour, salt, 1/4 cup confectioners sugar, and 1 teaspoon orange zest in a blender until just smooth.

Brush a 10-inch nonstick skillet lightly with some of melted butter(my non stick does not require butter so feel free to try both ways), then heat over medium heat until hot. Pour in a scant 1/4 cup batter, immediately tilting and rotating skillet to coat bottom.

Second Side
(If batter sets before skillet is coated, reduce heat slightly for next crêpe. I will sometimes wave my skillet around in the air cooling it off slightly before the pour...this is probably kind of dangerous but hey, if you don't want to risk a burn get out of my kitchen!) Cook until underside is golden and top is just set, 15 to 45 seconds. As you can see I have a square pan so my crepes often end up more.... "rustic" in shape, a round pan may help you have a more consistent shape. Really try to stick to the quarter cup up batter this will also help you keep consistent size.

Finished Whipped Cream
Beat remaining 2 1/2 cups cream, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, 3/4 cup confectioners sugar, 1 teaspoon zest, and Grand Marnier (or Cointreau) in a large deep bowl with an electric mixer until cream holds stiff peaks.

Feel free to prepare the whipped cream after all the crepes are cooked. You will need the crepes to be fully cooled before you can begin layering them with the whipped cream other wise the whipped cream will melt and the cake will not really be cake but just sticky crepes!

Don't be stingy with your whipped cream between layers. The whole batch will go farther than you think. Make sure to try to get as close to the edge as possible. I used a nice flat little spatula to help spread mine.

Once all the layers are complete cover and chill in the fridge for 4 to 24 hours. This is relatively easy and quick to assemble but won't reach it's potential if it doesn't have time to set.

The recipe on epicurious did not include a sauce but I thought a nice warm syrup would really add that extra edge to this cake. In a small sauce pot I combined 1 orange peeled and sliced, 2 cups sugar, 1 1/2 cups water and a half cup Cointreau (I had some lying around and spending $25 on a bottle of Grand Marnier to make one cake just seemed silly!). Bring all the contents to a boil, maintaining a simmer lower to medium and stir occasionally till reduced by half. I strained out the majority of the fruit leaving just a little bit for texture mostly you just want to cook it down for flavor. Pour over individual slices at service! This is a lovely light cake perfect for summer evenings.

So tell me, do you cook well with your significant other or do they get banished to the other room as well?

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