In need of a showstopping dessert? Readers, meet the Nutella crêpe cake. Nutella crêpe cake, meet your many admirers.
Did you ever bite off more than you could chew? Well, of course you have. We all have. But very few people have the kind of talent for this type of thing that I do. If I am having a dinner party I invariably decide to make some new dessert or dinner concoction which, at some point during the day, nearly makes me cry.
Generally it turns out pretty well, but there’s always a few minutes (or a few hours) where it’s pretty touch-and-go. I had a dinner party this past weekend. It was small. We were going to have whole sea bass with thyme lemon beurre blanc, roasted asparagus and pan sauteed potatoes, green salad, cheese and bread and… what for dessert? Of course with all those things to pull together I decided to make one of the most time consuming desserts I’ve ever attempted.
Now I do want to clarify something: this recipe isn’t time consuming because it’s particularly difficult to make. In fact, once you get the hang of pouring and cooking the crêpes it becomes maddeningly repetitive and rote. But in order to make a really spectacular crêpe cake you really do need somewhere between 35 and 50 crêpes and that takes a long, long time.
Then once you have your crêpes all cooked up you have to take them – one by tiny one! – and stack them on top of each other, spreading Nutella carefully – so carefully! – between each as you stack them higher and higher.
Is this process long and tedious? I wouldn’t lie to you: yes it is. Is it worth it to see your dinner guests’ face light up when they see a stack of crepes held together with Nutella awaiting them for dessert? Absolutely.
This recipe doesn’t require Nutella – you could really fill your crepes with anything you would normally fill crepes with. Brush each layer with melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar or a squeeze of lemon juice. Use jams or lemon curd. Maybe even some no-cook cheesecake filling.
Once you’ve filled your layers and gotten to a respectable height (or when you can’t take it any longer), cover the top layer with something delicious. Here I’ve just used more Nutella because, well, you can’t really ever have too much Nutella. But if you’re using something else, consider a complimentary flavor for your topping.
If your filling is lemon curd, a raspberry jam would be nice on top. Or if you’re using cheesecake filling between the crêpes, some strawberries would be a great way to finish. A bit of texture variation is nice too. Here I’m using toasted chopped hazelnuts for some crunch. Consider additions like crushed graham cracker, chocolate chips, waffle cone pieces, or toasted nuts to bring some textural interest to the cake.
A final word about serving: this cake is MUCH easier to slice and serve if it has been chilled. Otherwise the layers kind of slide around, creating a less-than-ideal final look. Instead, put the cake into the fridge for an hour or two before serving and consider cutting pieces and plating them with enough time for the cake to come back to room temperature before dessert time. Enjoy!
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup whole milk
- 7 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 1/3 cup flour
- *special equipment: blender, crepe pan, large offset spatula
- 35-50 crepes
- 1-26.5 ounce jar Nutella
- 1/2 cup hazelnuts
- *special equipment: cake stand, parchment circles, small offset spatula
- Pour all ingredients for crepes, starting with the liquids and finishing with flour, into a blender. Process on high speed for about a minute or until the ingredients are completely incorporated and are approximately the consistency of heavy cream.
- Pour batter into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to chill for at least 2 hours, or up to overnight.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Place the hazelnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet. Toast in the oven for 15-18 minutes or until skins are nearly black and meats are a golden brown color. Set aside to cool.
- Using fingers and a kitchen towel, roll the nuts to release the skins. Chop nuts roughly leaving some very large pieces or whole nuts and chopping other pieces into smaller bits. Set aside.
- Heat a crepe pan or 6-8" frying pan over medium heat until pan is VERY HOT, about 7-8 minutes. If you are using a pan that is not normally intended for making crepes, brush the surface of the pan with butter to prevent sticking. The pan will be ready for the crepe batter when the butter begins to smoke.
- Once heated appropriately, remove pan from heat. Using a 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) measure , pour about 3/4 of a scoop (3 tablespoons) of batter into the center of the pan. Quickly swirl the pan to distribute the batter around the bottom of the pan, but not up the sides. The pan should be very lightly coated with batter. Place the pan back over the heat and cook for 45-60 seconds or until the edges of the crepe become brown.
- Using an offset spatula, pull the edges of the crepe away from the sides of the pan. Slide the spatula under the edge of the crepe and, working quickly and fearlessly! - flip the crepe to the other side. The side now facing up should be evenly browned and crispy.
- Let the second side of the crepe cook for another 30-45 seconds. Check for doneness by lifting the edge of the crepe and checking for blotchy brown markings on the underside of the crepe. Using the spatula, lift the crepe out of the pan and flip it, evenly browned side down, onto a large dinner plate to cool.
- Repeat to make the desired number of crepes, setting crepes one on top of the other to cool.
- Place an 8-inch parchment circle in the center of a cake stand. Lay a crepe, browned side down, on top of the parchment. Scoop approximately 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons room-temperature Nutella onto the crepe. Using an offset spatula carefully spread the Nutella in a thin layer over the crepe, stopping about 1/2 to 3/4 inch from the edge of the crepe.
- Stack another crepe, browned side down, on top of the Nutella layer. Repeat this process until you have a stack of about 35-50 crepes. The edges of the crepes will not align perfectly and may look irregular and "lacy." Leave the top crepe bare.
- Cover the top crepe with a thicker layer of Nutella, using approximately 1/3 to 1/2 cup of Nutella. Swirl the Nutella artfully to create a pleasant look. Top with chopped nuts. Cover lightly with aluminum foil or plastic wrap and set in the fridge to chill for 1-2 hours before serving.
- Cut cake with a very sharp knife and allow to warm slightly before eating. Enjoy!