Friday, February 5, 2010

Happy Nutella Day - CupCrepe™

Nothing better than a holiday celebrating Hazelnut Chocolate Spread. And to top it off, it's apparently Crepe month in France. Is there anything better than Crepes smothered in Nutella? And is there anything better still than a cupcake built with crepes and nutella? I think not, which is why I've been conniving a way to make that happen for quite some time. So with the news of this world wide holiday approaching, I decided to take action. I am proud to introduce: the CupCrepe™.

Many discussions of how to put the project together took place. Do I make a cup out of crepe, or cut rounds and stack the crepe? Do I cut the circles, put on the spread, then stack? Do I use fresh strawberries, puree, or jam? How will they stay together without falling apart? How will the crepes stay tender, and not dry out. What crepe recipe do I use? I don't think I answered all my questions this first time, but I do think the concept is genuinely tasty, so no harm in having a couple more rounds of experimentation to work out the answers.

To start, the crepe recipe. A lady in my office exclaimed to me about a week ago that a client of hers, who is officially 100% French (thick accent and poor English to boot), gave her the "official" French Crepe recipe, and she so generously passed it on to me. I feel the need to reiterate it verbatim, simply because it was that authentic:

Begin quote:
French Crepes

Make a dozen Crepes

2 Cup flour
2 cups of Milk ( 2% is good if you want light crepe)
3 eggs
1/4 cup of butter
2T sugar
2tsp vanilla
2 T Rum or other alcohol like orange liqueur. [I used Brandy]

Firstly, put all the flour in a bowl, add one cup of cold milk and mix slowly with a wisk until it's smooth.
Add all 3 eggs, already beaten in an other bowl, you have to mix again very carrefully.
Put the butter in a microwave for a few seconds after it's melted and add it in a mix.
Combine the rest of the cold milk with sugar and vanilla.
mix again until it's smooth.

it's almost ready.

If desired, you can add a hint of rum or orange liqueur to taste.

wait for an hour before baking or no if you have hungry............

To fry the French crepes, you need a pan with just a little bit butter for the first crepes.
French crepes are very thin so you could put only a small amount of mix in a pan just enough to coat the bottom.
When the crepe is golden (it should take only a few minutes), you should turn it over and cook the other side just another minute or two.
You can eat them with powder sugar or butter or fresh lemon juice or chocolate of course!
end quote

Shamefully she did not mention Nutella as a topping, but I allowed myself the option to deviate from the recipe slightly.

So I went ahead and whipped up about 10-11 crepes with that recipe. (I did let it sit for about half an hour... even though I did have some hungry). While they were still warm, I began to layer nutella on each layer. I tried to keep it pretty thin since there were so many layers. Truth be told, I still went through half a jar of nutella to put this project together, so yeah, there's a lot of nutella per bite. But then I also snuck in 2 layers of fresh strawberries. My hope hope was that the nutella would work as the glue to hold those strawberries in place, but I think the juiciness of the strawberries was too strong and ended up liquefying the nutella instead. Still tasty, but messy. That's where I thought maybe a jam would work better, but there really is no replacement for the taste of fresh strawberries.

After building the stack up, I wanted to stick the whole pile in the fridge to let it cool enough that the nutella glue would set, but it was getting late, so I just went in for the cut. I used the shell of a Linzer cookie cutter I have since it's about the same size as the bottom of a cupcake wrapper. Punched it down through the multiple layers and lifted the whole stack up to transfer to a new plate. I'd say for the most part it worked. The top layers got stretched a bit on the initial cut, but they seemed to recover (having a nice a spongy crepe helped). Some of the strawberry layers got eschewed and were popping out in places, but the column was mostly intact. I also would prefer a taller cutter to get through so many layers. In the end, I think this method saved me some time, but will have to try it again where I cut each crepe round individually, THEN layer them altogether. It will give me more control and less worry about squeezing the toppings out through the layers. It will definitely take more time though.

So, once I had cut through as many full circles as the crepe would allow, I had quite the mess of leftover crepe and nutella. Not that it's a bad thing, but It could be put to "prettier" use. I donated this pile to my dear friend and co-worker, and she didn't mind the presentation one bit.

For the final touch, I topped each round with a dab of nutella "glue", some strawberry slices and powdered sugar. After letting them refrigerate over night, I was able to easily scoop them up and put them into cupcake liners for final presentation.

Final thoughts: The strawberries look sad and dry the next day, so this is best served fresh. I think it would be good to do with banana and maybe make a puree for every other layer of nutella. If layered individually, I think it will stay together pretty well. The other thing I would do is make the whole thing single-bite sized. Call them mini-cupcrepes, but they will be much easier to just pop in one serving. Maybe the, you could just do nutella layers with the topping only on the top, too. Let the experiments continue!

So, happy nutella day, world. I hope you enjoy my offering!