Once upon a time, I was wearing a Jesus and Mary Chain t-shirt when someone asked me if I had a cooler older sister. I was like, “Why yes, yes I do actually.” And the conversation carried on about my sister for a few minutes before I realized that this person had assumed a clueless 20-year-old like me would never know anything about 80s bands from Scotland. Because the Internet/radio/recorded music in general doesn’t exist? Whatever. Screw that guy.
Point being: I do have a cooler older sister, which has nothing to do with what was on our respective Walkmen (Walkmans?) growing up. And being cool deserves a very special birthday cake: an intricate-looking, sophisticated, rich, and yes, cool cake. So cool that we’re all probably too young to have heard of it (oh, snap).
I realize there are 20+ layers involved here, but this actually goes pretty quickly in the grand scheme of things. Maybe making “regular” cakes is not my forte, but this was a breeze. Cake already requires a commitment of a few hours at least, and because a crepe cake isn’t even supposed to look even and perfect, it is a very stress-free few hours.
Eggs, though. So many eggs. Along with the 1-hour batter chilling time, they’re your insurance policy against torn crepes. In fact, I hoped to rip one in the process so I could eat it, and not a single one succumbed, gang. I had to eat a crepe without a good excuse for it. The struggle!
Another word about the batter: In the early stages, it will try to tell you that it’s going to be lumpy and stiff no matter what you do, but don’t listen. Keep whisking and it’ll be okay.
If it turns out that I’m lying and it’s not okay, you conveniently have not one, but two bottles of alcohol around… Do with that what you will.
There’s my clumsy left hand at work again. Nobody holds a whisk like that. Am I ambidextrous yet? Is that how that works?
As for the filling, four 8-ounce containers of mascarpone seems like a lot. It also seems like something that will never do you wrong. Both are absolutely correct.
I ended up topping this with a white chocolate and espresso ganache before finishing it up with cocoa powder. It felt necessary, but you can skip that if you’re so inclined. If you’re observant, you can tell I jumped the gun and poured it a little early. Don’t be like me… In ganache and in life. I do, however, have a cooler older sister.
Cheers and a happy weekend! It’s somebody’s birthday somewhere. Let’s make cake.
- 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cake flour
- 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 4 large eggs
- 5 large egg yolks
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
- 2 cups whole milk
- 3 tablespoons cognac
- Nonstick pan spray
- 1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar
- 4 cups (32 ounces) mascarpone cheese
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons coffee liqueur
- Natural cocoa powder, for sprinkling on top
- 2 ounces white chocolate, chopped
- 1/2 cup (4 ounces) heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon espresso powder
- Sift together the cake flour, all-purpose-flour, sugar, and salt into a large bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and yolks. Whisk the egg mixture into the flour mixture (it will be thick, but keep whisking).
- Gradually whisk in the melted butter, followed by the milk and cognac. Whisk batter until smooth. Cover bowl and chill batter in the fridge for an hour.
- When batter is ready, have a plate or baking sheet and a roll of wax or parchment paper nearby, then heat an 8-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and coat with nonstick spray. Stir up the batter gently and pour 1/4 cup of it into the skillet, then quickly swirl it around to coat. Cook until bubbles appear on top and the crepe is no longer shiny, about 1 1/2 minutes. Use a spatula or your fingers (carefully!) to flip and cook for about 30 seconds more. Repeat until batter is gone (you should end up with around 20 crepes). Chill the crepes for 2 hours, until completely cold.
- To make the filling, place mascarpone into a large bowl and sift confectioner's sugar over it. Beat mascarpone and sugar with a hand mixer, and pour in the coffee liqueur in a steady stream. Beat until everything is incorporated and smooth.
- Assemble cake by spreading around 1/4 cup of filling between each crepe layer.
- To make ganache, heat up the white chocolate and cream in a double boiler set over simmering water until chocolate melts (alternatively, microwave in spurts). Add espresso powder and whisk until mixture is smooth and espresso powder has melted into the ganache. Let the ganache cool slightly, whisking occasionally, until it's the consistency of corn syrup, then slowly pour over the cake.
- When ganache has set (you can stick the cake in the fridge for a bit to speed this up), sift cocoa powder over the top of the cake. Decorate as desired.