Chocolate Crêpe Cake: Endless layers, endless possibilities

chocolate-crepe-cake

Do you remember the savory vegetable crêpe torte we shared back towards Thanksgiving time? It was so such a delicious marvel of tender layers and layers, we decided to go with a sweet version. A sweet crêpe cake, my oh my.

Crêpes are such an easy and fast way to make a special presentation, but you hardly ever see them on a menu or have them at home. I really hope to change that at my house, so I’ve been looking at crêpe recipes for months now. A little egg, a little flour. It’s hard to believe that just a few simple ingredients can combine to make such a delicate and enticing treat. Sweet, savory, mild or wild, I’m stunned at the variety.

Crêpes are even showing up more on the blogosphere and in pop culture. On one season of Food Network’s “Great Food Truck Race” a crêpe truck was one of the favorite contenders even. I think walking up on the sidewalk to the window and walking away with a hot crêpe stuffed with Nutella, Biscoff or fresh berries would make me one happy little baker.

Our sweet Chocolate Crêpe Cake features light and ethereal chocolate crêpes layered with a hazelnut chocolate pastry cream. Once you have the art of making crêpes down, the world is your playground for flavor combinations. Chocolate vanilla? Chocolate raspberry? Vanilla crêpes with cinnamon pastry cream? A là James Brown “Baby, help me please!”

No trips to France are needed to bring crêpes to your own house. Just a bowl, a whisk, a good non-stick skillet or crêpe pan, and a little time are all you need.

To make the chocolate crêpe batter, whisk together for one minute:

Then whisk in:

  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 ½ cups milk
  • ½ cup butter, melted

Whisk until no lumps remain, then pass the mixture through a sieve into a clean bowl and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.

The rest period will allow the flour to hydrate and form better gluten bonds.

At the end of the rest time, preheat your crêpe pan or skillet. Spritz with a touch of cooking spray, then pour about 1/8 cup of batter into the pan and swirl the pan to spread the batter evenly. Bake a test crêpe just to get the feel for it. Usually the first crêpe or two will be the “ugly ducklings”, and then you’ll just roll on from there, turning out one perfect crêpe after the other.

See how the batter smoothly coats this pan, no gaps and no lumps? If your batter has lumps, you’ll need to strain it again before proceeding. If the batter runs off and leaves gaps, you’ll need to whisk in a little more flour to thicken it up and try again.

There, that’s what we are looking for. A nice batch of crêpes, crisp on the outer edge and soft and pliable in the centers. You’ll need about 18 to 20 for the cake, but cook all the batter now and save the leftovers for nibbling while you work, or freezing for another day.

For the filling, you’ll need about 2 cups of prepared pastry cream. I love using our Pastry Cream Filling Mix, but you could make a batch from a scratch recipe if you prefer. You can even use instant vanilla pudding mix made with cream instead of milk. Soft, smooth and creamy.

To make the chocolate hazelnut filling, soften 3/4 cup of chocolate hazelnut spread (like Nutella) in the microwave for about 20 seconds. Pour the spread into the pastry cream and whisk until completely smooth. You can eat a spoonful if you want, you know, just to check the smoothness.

To assemble the cake, lay out 3 crêpes on your serving plate. Spread with 2 tablespoons of the pastry cream, then continue to layer with single crêpes and pastry cream. Occasionally make a layer with two or 3 crêpes to help the cake be more stable. Finish with another layer of 3 crêpes.

Wrap the entire cake with plastic wrap, applying a little pressure to seal the layers. Chill for at least an hour, or up to overnight.

To serve, slice into wedges and top with a dusting of powdered sugar. The cake is soft and tender and RICH, so a little wedge goes far. Enjoy with a cup of dark coffee, or even a tipple of Frangelico if you’re splurging.

Please bake, rate and review our recipe for Chocolate Crêpe Cake.

Print just the recipe.

MaryJane Robbins
About

MaryJane Robbins grew up in Massachusetts and moved to Vermont 20 years ago. After teaching young children for 15 years, she changed careers and joined King Arthur Flour in 2005. MaryJane began working on King Arthur Flour's baker’s hotline in 2006, and the blog team ...

comments

  1. cwcdesign

    Oh MaryJane,

    I might not have seen this soon enough to make it for Pancake Day, but this is definitely now on the to-do list. It looks wonderful!!

    Carol
    I hope you enjoy it. It’s a real treat, and very sumptuous. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  2. JuliaJ

    What is the consistency for the filling? I make a cornstarch-based chocolate pudding (from Maida Heatter’s American Desserts cookbook) that is a chocoholic’s dream and was wondering if that might substitute for the pastry cream filling. If it needs to be stiffer so the layers don’t slide, I could add an an extra tablespoon of cornstarch so the pudding chills to a more mousse-like texture.

    I’m also thinking about cutting 3″ circles from the stacked cake to make individual cakes for the portion-conscious.

    Yum!

    A “pudding” is going to be on the soft side. Slippage is possible. Even with pudding modified with an extra tablespoon of starch, I’m not sure it will be firm enough. That is going to be an experiment. Pastry Cream is practically “slice-able” when fully set. That is the consistency you are going for. Frank @ KAF.

    Reply
  3. "Paul from Ohio"

    Looks FANTASTIC! Crepes were a biggie back in the days after college. So easy to make and sooooooo tasty. BUT where’s the frosting on the exterior? Not sure I understand the 3 then 2 layering and I don’t see it in the photo?
    Hi there,
    There actually isn’t any frosting on the outside of the cake. It’s left “open” if you will so that you can see the layers. For the layering, you want to use 3 crepes to start, then filling, then one crepe, filling, one crepe, filling. Occasionally as you stack, use 2 crepes instead of one to give stability to the stack. End with 3 crepes so that you have a stable top and bottom for slicing.
    Hope this helps! :) ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  4. sweetminnie

    Making the Crepes which is best a plain crepe pan or
    nonstick one?
    It’s really up to each person to decide which pan works best for them. I really like using non-stick myself, but Frank and Susan swear by regular pans. If you can, try out both kinds and see what works for you. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  5. misoranomegami

    Ahh crepes. It’s your time to shine! A couple of years ago I spent a week in Japan and one of their popular mall food kiosks blew me away. It was a crepe stand. The lady had hot metal pan and would cook a fresh crepe for you then fill it with your choice of fresh fruit, ice cold whipped cream and melted chocolate. A warm crepe stuffed with whip cream, kiwi, strawberries and dark chocolate?! Why don’t we have these here?!
    I agree! Elisabeth

    Reply
  6. glpruett

    Oh, YUM!!! This recipe makes my chocoholic heart sing! I’m hosting a dinner for 40 in a couple of weeks, and plan to end with a dessert buffet. I’d love to include individual crepe-cakes, about two to three inches in diameter. do you think it would work to spread about a tablespoon of crepe batter on a griddle and spread it quickly with a spatula to get it thin enough? I realize I would need to cook only a few at a time so that the baking of the individual crepes wouldn’t get away from me. Or would it work better to just use my 7″ nonstick skillet, baking just one small crepe at a time?

    I can just see the clear crystal serving platter now, with each little crepe cake topped with your non-melting powdered sugar and fresh raspberries spread around between them! Lovely…
    If you are quick, you can probably get away with cooking a couple of crepes at a time. DEFINITELY practice well before the big date to see what will work best for you. Crepes freeze very well, so that part can be made in advance. Good luck! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  7. glpruett

    Another question–in your recipe for Pastry Cream, one of the “Tips” says if you want the pastry cream to be sliceable as for a cream pie, you should omit adding the whipped cream at the end of the recipe. Since you do want this Nutella-Pastry Cream mixture to be sliceable, is it better to omit adding the whipped cream in this case, too?

    Thanks for your help!
    The pastry cream should be more pudding-like then fluffy, so I wouldn’t fold any whipped cream in. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  8. quiltty

    Not familiar with pastry cream, so wondering if the new Philadelphia Indulgence chocolate cream cheese would work. It might be easier, I think.
    Now it’s my turn to not be familiar. Is it just a chocolate flavored cream cheese? I know they used to have a tub of cheesecake like filling, that would work fine. Or a nice vanilla pudding with some Nutella stirred in. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  9. "Paul from Ohio"

    MJ – duh, now I get the 3, 2, 1 crepe instruction – it’s 3,2,1 ON TOP OF each other to give thickness and thus, as you write, the stability of the stack! Got it! Understand about no top or side frosting to see the layers, BUT, one COULD put on a Favorite Fudge outer and top coating – would be nice pared with the Hazelnut cream! Add calories/points, too! And we don’t need that!
    You could definitely add outer coating. I’d keep it pretty light though, it’s very rich as it is. ~MaryJane

    Reply
  10. quiltty

    Philadelphia Indulgence is a new product. It’s spreadable, like a soft margarine and it comes in different chocolate flavors.
    I think it might work.
    ooooooh, that sounds awfully good. I’ll have to look it up. Thanks! ~MaryJane

    Reply
  11. aaronatthedoublef

    Have you had a crepe cake stacking contest to see who can make the highest cake?
    Man, that would be a ton of fun. And I bet some to the photos would make it to the annual April Fool’s Day blog too. :) ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  12. catieartist

    For JuliaJ,
    This would be an experiment, but I have substituted a filling in a way you describe, using an alternative method. I made the filling, pudding like as you mentioned, a little less liquid. I also wanted to use it as a filling. I made some whipped cream of very good quality, using a packet of Dr. Oetker’s stabilizer, (but I think they also sell it here on the website). When mixed, let chill for a while until cool (add the two mixtures until you feel you have the correct consistency), as it will thicken upon cooling. For a deeper chocolate flavor, I added melted chocolate, in a stream to the mix until I had it as I wanted it. I have done variations on this for many things. It is almost like a ganache one can do most anything with. Even just combining whipped, stabilized cream to a pudding mix, (if made with the Pie method ) can create a mousse like filling.
    I hope you can make something you love.
    C
    Thanks Catie for sharing your method. The melted chocolate sounds divine. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  13. catieartist

    Dear MJ,
    Now that you have created this delight for all regular eaters….how about those of us who cannot eat wheat? Is there a GF crepe? or I would love just a delicate wheat-less one. I love the schmears and use them often. They combine well with nearly anything!
    thanks,
    Catie
    Catie, I’ve tried the Parisian Street Vendor Crepe recipe with gluten free flour and 1/4 tsp. of xanthan gum and it worked really well! ~Amy

    Reply
  14. waikikirie

    Oh boy – oh boy MJ…..does this look good. I have been meaning to try crepes, both savory and sweet. My DH bought me a tub of that Philadelphia cream cheese. Was wondering what to do with it…Now I know. Will be taking a weeks vacation soon. Won’t be going anywhere but the kitchen, but I’ll be having a heck of a good time with all the recipes I’ve been meaning to try. Thanks…xoxo
    Awesome! I have this Friday off, so I’m headed to a “big town” grocery store to look for the Philly. I’m thinking of trying it on a moon cake. mmmmmmm. Have a GREAT vacation! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  15. "John VN"

    I have made a similar stacked crepe in the past. I used fresh strawberries sliced thin (used a mandolin for this), Nutella, and whipped cream, with almond flavored crepes. Alternating layers of crepe -Nutella, strawberries – crepe, whipped cream – crepe. Continue for two or three times. A little almond liqueur on top is a nice addition.

    I will have to try this with the chocolate crepe.
    I did think about the strawberries believe it or not, but it just isn’t the season for them right now. Come spring though, I’ll be all OVER it! Thanks John! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  16. yourfavoritegnat

    I just made a crepe cake 2 weeks ago, I find the best way to mix the batter is in the blender. I do this in the morning and let the batter sit in the fridge until I get home from work. I used the Parisian Street Vendor Crepe recipe and used vanilla bean whipped cream with a touch of almond extract for between the layers. I topped my cake with fudge frosting (from the Classic Yellow Cake recipe – I used 2 parts regular cocoa and 1 part black cocoa). It was delicious!
    YIPES! Thanks for the reminder about the blender method. Frank had asked me to make a comment and I forgot all about it. Sheesh, if anyone sees my mind, send it back home. Thanks again for sharing. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  17. catieartist

    MJ,
    I called yesterday and talked to you about parchment, and then about the pastry mix, and the non gluten crepes as requested above…well, after talking to you, I later looked at the package again,and there were the answer to my flavoring questions. I felt like such a goof.. I hate that! wasting someone’s time when I could read the answers for myself. (I promise in the future to put ON my reading glasses before embarking on reading labels!) So I am happy to see the post above. I feel better now.. we are all human.. and it really was a pleasure talking to you. Time to start baking.

    Amy, thank you for the recipe link and tips. I searched, but this didn’t come up. I cannot wait to make it!
    Regards,
    Catie
    Hi Catie,
    It was so nice to speak with you too. Glad you found the answers too. Have fun! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  18. verojohns

    OK, this reminds me of a Chilean delicacy called Panqueques de Manjar, or Dulce de leche pancakes. Oh, yum! If you are ever in Chile and it is tea time, order one of these pancake cakes – you’ll be in heaven! I wonder if I could make them here – just not sure how to get the manjar, or dulce de leche to a creamier consistency. Thanks for the inspiration!

    Reply
  19. Olive

    Hi! I really want to try this; but I am a bit confused about the “stir in the butter” and rub a piece of butter on top” in the pastry cream instruction. Sorry for sounding silly, but does that mean i have to melt the butter before stirring it? And what about the rubbing it on top? How does one do that? :)
    Hi Olive,
    Sorry for the confusion. You would stir in the softened butter into the hot pastry cream. Once you pour it into the bowl for the fridge, you take a small pat of butter and rub that over the surface of the warm cream. Kind of like when you rub butter over hot pancakes. It melts and coats the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Hope this helps. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  20. lboter

    One small thing: No sugar in the crepe batter???

    That’s right. No sugar in the batter helps set up the flavor contrast between the crepes and the sweet pastry cream filling. Give it a try. Frank @ KAF.

    Reply
  21. sohn

    This was easy to make, very rich, and DELICIOUS!!! And btw, this does nothing for my New Year’s resolution to eat healthy! Thank you, as always, for a great recipe.

    Reply

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