Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Banana Nutella Mille Crepes Cake

I've been wanting to try making the mille crepe cake since my first foray to baking, months ago. Been practicing a bit with cooking crepes several times before, did not seem too insurmountable.  Finally decided to make it for my Hubby on Valentine's Day, since he was going to cook the dinner's main course. So it was just the right time!

I wanted to make a Banana Nutella Mille Crepe cake, because chocolate is one his favorite flavor and who doesn't like the combination of banana, nutella and crepes! But surprisingly there weren't any such recipes online, and there were not that many Nutella cream-only recipes either.  I was looking for a simple pastry cream recipe that didn't involve pre-cooking the pastry cream first before mixing with whipped cream, though wasn't sure whether it was possible. Fortunately, I did end up stumbling on a recipe by Sugar Hero, which was perfect! Just added some banana slices in between the layers, and topped it of with Nutella-tinged chocolate glaze, and it came out pretty good.

One improvement I thought I could make is probably reducing the cooking time of the crepes, to make them softer. I may have cooked them too long, as they were slightly chewy, but still good. I used Alton Brown's recipe for the crepes which was simple enough.  Overally, it was quite a relaxing experience, felt less hectic than if I was making a normal cake. Cooking the crepes did take some time (overall 15-18 crepes), but once you get the hang of it, you can do other things in between waiting for each crepe to cook (like updating your blog or watching some ice skating clip on youtube).

A tip when cooking the crepes:
- When just removing from the refrigerator, the batter is still cold, so if you start cooking immediately, the first few crepes will take longer to cook. I didn't realize this at first and thought that there was something with the crepes recipe or that I had mixed the batter wrong. Half of the batter ended up as piles of half-cooked torn crepes, because I was panicking and didn't wait long enough for them to cook.
- Once your batter comes to room temperature, I turn down the heat slightly before each time pouring the batter into the pan, so that it doesn't set too quickly, to allow me to swirl batter more evenly throughout the pan.
- Once the batter is spread evenly through the pan, I then increase the heat to medium, so it cooks abit took me some 1-2 minutes for the first side, and several seconds for the second side.

- How can you tell if it's time to flip? You want part of the edges to be firm/goldenbrown/dry, so that when you insert a spatula there, the edges don't break. You can slowly pull the edges with both your hands and flip.

Hubby seemed to like the cake (I did too), we finished it in one long weekend!

Banana Nutella Mille Crepes Cake Recipe

Adapted from Alton Brown (Crepes), Sugar Hero (Nutella Cream), (Nutella-Chocolate Glaze)

For the crepes
2 large eggs
3/4 c milk
1/2 c water
3 tbsp butter, melted
2 1/2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla1 c flour

For the Nutella cream & Banana filling
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1.3 TBSP cocoal powder
6 TBSP Nutella at room temperature

3-4 ripe medium-sized banana

For the Nutella-Chocolate Glaze
4 TBSP cocoa powder
4 TBSP powdered sugar
2 TBSP hot water
2 TBSP milk (room temp or hot)
2 TBSP Nutella at room temperature

1 TBSP of small walnut pieces for garnish.


For the Crepes: Dump all the ingredients into a blender (liquids first, flour last, to avoid dry flour clumps on bottom of blender). Pulse for 5 seconds, stir bottom with spoon to avoid clumps, blitz another 5 seconds. Refrigerate the batter for at least 1 hour or up to 48 hours. Heat a medium non stick skillet on medium high and lightly grease bottom with butter/oil. Pour 1/4 c of the batter into the centre of the pan and swirl to spread the batter evenly. Cook until surface has set, and edges are firm (so you can stick your cooking spatula without tearing the edge), about 1-2 mins. Flip with your spatula/hands and cook for another 10 seconds or so. Remove the crepes and stack them up on a plat. Once cooled, cover with a clingfilm and store it the fridge while you prepare your cream (crepes can keep several days). The recipe will yield about 15-19 crepes.

For Nutella cream: Chill your mixing bowl and whisk attachment in freezer at least 15 minutes before you’re ready to use them. Pour the cream into the chilled bowl, then sift the cocoa powder into the bowl. Whip until firm peaks form (cream holds its peak on your whisk when you hold whisk up). I whisked by hand, it took about 10 mins. Add room temperature Nutella and gently fold it into the cream. It will deflate the cream a bit, so try to be gently so it keeps its volume. Chill in refrigerator for 30 mins or so.

Assembling : 
Slice banana into thin 1-2 mm slices. Place one crepe on your serving plate. Top the crepe with a generous spoonful of the Nutella cream. Spread it out to the edges of the crepe in an even layer (I used the back of a spoon to do this). Add some banana slices. Then add another crepe on top, lining up the sides so they’re even and pressing it very very gently so that the layers stick. Repeat with the cream and filling, and continue to stack layers of crepes and cream until you’ve used all the crepes. For the banana slices, you can place on every other layer, or every two or three layers, it's pretty flexible (I think I started on the fifth layer and skipped two or three layers somewhere near the top). Place in stacked crepes in fridge while you are doing your glaze.

You can use any thicker banana slices that is left for topping. 

For the Nutella-Chocolate glaze: 
In a small bowl, combine the powdered sugar and the cocoa powder. Using a fork, gradually stir in the water and milk until the mixture is smooth and glossy. Add Nutella, and mix until blended.  If mix is too thick, add more water.  If mix is too runny, add equal parts of cocoa powder and powdered sugar until desired thickness has been reached (mine was like a slightly thicker version of ready-made chocolate sauce). Pour over crepe cake, and garnish top with pieces of slices of banana and small walnut pieces/crumbs.

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