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Move over, Martha. The Daring Bakers are claiming your territory!

Well, perhaps we’re not quite claiming your territory but we are all over a dessert you showcased. And it’s a good thing too as judging by my own experience and that of most of the other Daring Bakers, your recipe could do with a bit of help.

As many of you know, back in November Lis of La Mia Cucina and I decided to challenge ourselves to bake (or create) foods that we would normally not try. Since November, the little group that we affectionately named The Daring Bakers has grown to close to thirty members!

Each month our challenges have been exciting and we have been pushed to try new recipes and expand our creativity. But along with the growth spurt we’ve had some growing pains. Voting on our monthly challenge became a bit of a headache due to the number of people involved. As a result, we made a decision to move to a hosted event. Part of the duties of being hostess (or host) is that you must choose a challenge for the month, supply the recipe (and post the recipe on your own blog) and pick a date for the challenge.

The April edition of The Daring Bakers features Brilynn of Jumbo Empanadas as hostess. Brilynn had her eye on a Martha Stewart confection called Darkest Chocolate Crepe Cake. Martha’s own creation is based on a famous crepe cake from the New York bakery, Lady M Cake Boutique.

This particular dessert consists of four components:  crepes, filling, glaze and decoration. While I have some experience with crepes, I was very intrigued by the idea of making chocolate crepes, which I’d never done before. The crepe batter, which included semisweet chocolate, was fairly straightforward to pull together. As I went to actually cook the crepes, however, I was a bit concerned as I know that some of my fellow Daring Bakers had experienced some difficulties.

Dscn5222While the first few crepes had their lives tragically cut short after tearing and generally not cooking properly, I found the rest of the crepes easier to produce. The only drawback to this part of the recipe was that it took so very long to make the crepes. This was partly my fault as I decided to make mini crepes. After some research, I "invested" in a $9 egg fry pan that has the most adorable handle ever! I don’t usually eat a lot of fried eggs but the pan was so cute that I couldn’t resist.

While the crepes were good, I didn’t find anything particularly exciting about them. So I looked to the filling to offer the pizazz factor for this dessert.

I studied the recipe for the filling in the original but knew right away that I didn’t want to make it. Have you ever looked at a recipe and thought, "You know what. I just don’t want to go to the trouble"? That’s precisely how I felt when I looked at the filling recipe. Did I really want to buy Hazelnut Cream? Did I really want to use six egg whites? Did I really want to use almost a pound of butter just for a filling? For some reason I just felt uninspired by the filling and decided it just wasn’t worth using up precious butter.

Dscn5224Instead, I decided to go the simple route by spreading Nutella on the crepes. I figure you just can’t go wrong with Nutella! After having filled and built my little crepe cakes, I put them in the refrigerator to set. While they rested, I made the chocolate glaze. This particular glaze was quite easy to make and definitely good, but again, there wasn’t anything spectacular about it. It had a great pour quality that definitely covered a multitude of crepe sins, but other than that it was your average chocolate glaze.

For some strange reason, the further into the recipe I got the less interested I felt.

The final step before putting it all together was the decoration. The original recipe includes instructions on how to make candied hazelnuts with a decorative effect. Initially I wasn’t going to make these as it seemed a lot of trouble, but I changed my mind. I reminded myself that part of being a Daring Baker is pushing yourself so I went ahead with caramelizing the hazelnuts. I’m glad I changed my mind. The hazelnuts were probably my favourite part of the recipe. I would be lying if I said it wasn’t great fun creating strings of caramel sugar all over the kitchen.

Dscn5229The fun of the hazelnuts aside, at this point I was just eager to put the cake together and see the final result (and get it over with). I cloaked the crepe cakes in the chocolate glaze and let them set for a few minutes before transferring the cakes to a serving dish and then finally cutting into one of them.

The cakes were sweet with a nice touch of hazelnut from the Nutella. And the caramel decorations were a big hit. However, if I were to make this again, I think I would make a cream filling. As good as the Nutella was, I think some creaminess would have helped to lighten the cake just a bit.

But to be very honest with you, I just don’t see myself making this particular crepe cake again. It was uninspiring. It tasted alright, but the taste doesn’t match the visual appeal of the cake. It’s hard to put my finger on it, but the end result just didn’t live up to the hype.

Having said that, my Daring Bakers have all acquitted themselves admirably. In fact quite a few of them have given Martha a run for her money! To see what incredible confections the other Daring Bakers produced, you can check their blogs by clicking on the links under The Daring Bakers category in the sidebar to the right of this page.

And stay tuned … The Daring Bakers will be back for more next month!

Ciao!

Note:  For those of you interested in trying this dessert, there is a video demonstration that you can watch from the Martha Stewart site.

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