Posts Tagged ‘crepe cake’

Hi there readers.  Hope you had a fantastic Thanksgiving.  I spent the week in NY and NJ and got back just in time to bake and blog before Week 4.  Without further ado, Week 3 of Holiday Baking Championship Challenge.

The preheat began with 90 minutes to bake up a cranberry combo dessert.  Like always, I wrote down the seven options and out of lime, pumpkin, fig, rosemary, chocolate, pistachio, and ginger, I drew pistachio.  Score!  I have an excellent cranberry pistachio biscotti recipe.  And inspired by the Italian bakery I visited in Queens, I decided to make one more Italian cookie to go with it, called a pizzicati.


I think the biggest challenge to timed desserts is figuring out what order to do things.  The biscotti takes awhile to bake, but the pizzicati needed a cranberry jam that I couldn’t find in store so I had to make it and cool it down slightly.  Therefore, while the eggs and sugar were beating in my stand mixer, I rinsed some cranberries and threw them in a pot with sugar, water, and cinnamon to start heating on the stove.

Back to the biscotti.  The dough is very easy to make.  I also took a few minutes to toast the pistachios before incorporating them.  Got the dough shaped into a log and in the oven within about 10 minutes.  Then it was back to the cranberry sauce/jam.  I smashed the cranberries when they were starting to pop but decided to leave it chunky rather than pureeing it.


The pizzicati cookies were completely new to me, but pretty basic.  I substituted a little bit of the flour for pistachio flour (finely ground pistachios) and also added a small amount of pistachio extract to the dough.  I wanted to make sure the combo flavor was prevalent in both treats.  Then I took the cranberry jam out of the fridge, rolled out the dough, cut out circles, and pinched the ends together over the jam filling.  Those went in the oven as I took out the biscotti log.


I slice and baked the biscotti for 10 minutes on each side and they were done baking with about 2 minutes left to spare.  The cookies came out slightly earlier so I got my cardboard round ready.  I wanted to present the treats similarly to how they are done in the Italian bakeries.  The cookies go on a cardboard round and then wrapped up in cellophane.  I omitted the cellophane for better picture taking.



I had just enough time to drizzle a little white chocolate on a few of the biscotti (I forgot to buy more white chocolate) before time ran out.


Good challenge.  I even had a little bit of time to wash some dishes while waiting for the biscotti to finish.  That was a big bonus since I had to start on the main challenge right after.  That’s the problem with going out of town for a week and having to rush.

The main heat had the same 90 minute time limit to bake up a coffee combo dessert.  I wrote all the options on paper and told my boyfriend to pick a number.  Hmmm… pomegranate syrup.  Well, that required a trip to the grocery.  Couldn’t find syrup so had to settle for pomegranate nectar that I reduced on the stove top.


Taking more inspiration from my recent trip and a visit to Lady M, I decided to make a coffee flavored crepe cake.  I have a crepe maker that I’ve never used so here was the perfect opportunity.

When the clock started, I got to work on the pastry cream I would be using between the layers.  I needed it to cool slightly before assembling my cake.  I added coffee extract and instant espresso powder to the cream and threw it in the freezer.

The crepe recipe is very simple.  Add all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.  Making the crepes was not quite as easy.  I tried to use the little wooden batter spreader that it came with, but I couldn’t quite get the circular motion down.  And I also didn’t have enough batter to make a 16″ diameter cake.  I realized after making about 5 crepes that it might be easier to use a small nonstick pan.  I swirled the batter in it and got the hang of it after a couple mishaps.


With 20 minutes left, I had to start assembling while still making a few more crepes.  The twist in this challenge was to incorporate biscotti.  Like most of the competitors, I ground it up in a food processor.  I sprinkled the crumbs over the pastry cream filling on every layer to hopefully give it some texture.  And since the crepes were not all exactly the same size, I used a 7″ cake round and pizza cutter to cut them to shape.


The cake was taking longer than I thought it would.  With 5 minutes left, I had yet to incorporate the pomegranate syrup.  So once again in a time crunch, I resorted to making whipped cream flavored with the syrup.  I spread that over the cake (which needed about 10 more layers in my opinion) and watched the timer hit 0.

Next time I attempt a crepe cake, I will give myself 2 hours minimum.  I would have liked to pour chocolate ganache over it, as that would have gone well with the coffee flavor.  And I really would have liked it to be a bit taller.  I didn’t count how many crepe layers were in my cake but upon inspection once cut, I think it was about 14.


The cake has a different kind of texture.  It’s chewy.  But that’s what I thought of Lady M’s cakes so I guess I did it right.  I’m not sure that I’ll make the cookies again.  They had a good sandy crumb, but they seemed a little dry.

Alright, almost time for week 4.  Now hiring dishwashers!


Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti, courtesy of Joy of Baking.com

2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup shelled, unsalted pistachios, coursely chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the sugar and eggs on high until thick, pale, and fluffy (about 5 minutes).  Beat in the vanilla extract.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Add to the egg mixture and beat until combined.  Fold in the pistachios and cranberries.

Transfer the dough to the parchment lined baking sheet and form into a log about 12″ long and 4″ wide.  Bake for 25 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes, then transfer to a cutting board.  Diagonally cut into 3/4″ slices and place biscotti back on the baking sheet, cut side down.  Bake for 10 minutes, flip over, and bake another 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool.  Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.


Pizzicati Cookies with Pistachio Flour modifications:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup finely ground unsalted pistachios
1/2 cup cornstarch
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 egg
1/2 cup softened butter
1/2 tsp pistachio extract
1 cup jam

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, pistachio flour, cornstarch, powdered sugar, and baking powder.  Beat in the egg, butter, and pistachio extract.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough and cut into 3″ rounds.  Put enough jam in the center that still allows you to pinch together two ends and keep the jam inside.

Bake in oven for about 12-14 minutes, or until dough turns a light golden brown.  Cool on cooling rack and store in airtight container.  May dust with powdered sugar.


Dessert Crepes (makes about eight 8″ crepes, recipe can be doubled):

2 large eggs
1 cup milk
1/3 cup water
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp melted butter
1 cup flour

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.  Grease a pan heated to medium and pour batter in center.  Swirl pan to evenly coat and cook for about 1-2 minutes.  Lift edge up to test if done, then flip when ready to cook the other side for about 30 seconds.  How long they cook depends on how hot the pan is, keep an eye on them!  I also added about 1 tsp instant espresso powder to the batter for this challenge.


Coffee Pastry Cream:

2 cups milk
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 egg yolks
1 whole egg
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp coffee extract
1 tsp instant espresso powder

Over medium high heat, bring milk and 1/4 cup granulated sugar to a boil in a medium pot.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and cornstarch.  When the milk boils (careful, it boils over quick!), drizzle half the milk over the egg mixture, whisking constantly, then slowly drizzle back into pot, continuing to whisk until mixture thickens and comes to a boil.  Remove from heat and add the butter, extracts, and espresso powder.  Pour into a heat proof container and cover directly on the surface with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate until cool.

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