This is a special occasion cake that you should make for someone you really love. It is a multi-process, multi-day venture that will impress the heck out of...well, anyone you want to impress. So if there is someone you're smitten with, you can show them how much you care by making this crepe cake.
Pumpkin pastry cream is folded into freshly whipped cream and layered between 16 delicate crepes. Sugar is sprinkled on top then bruléed for a thin and nutty, candy crust. I serve this cake with a warm salted butter chocolate sauce. The hint of salt and bittersweet chocolate adds contrast to this elegant dessert.
With each additional layer and gradation of color, you express more and more love. If you just like someone, stop by Martin's grocery store and buy him or her a Ukrop's cake (they’re delicious as well).
The night before you make the cake, prepare the crepe batter and pumpkin pastry cream. This allows the batter to thicken and the pastry cream to cool completely.
Ombré Pumpkin Brûlée Crepe Cake
Crepe Batter (makes about 16 crepes):
6 tablespoons butter
3 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
Red and yellow food coloring
Melt butter in a small pan until slightly browned. Remove from the heat and set aside. Warm milk over medium heat until it is steaming but has not yet started to simmer. Remove from heat.
In a large bowl mix together eggs, flour, sugar, and salt until well mixed. Slowly add the browned butter and warmed milk. The batter will be quite thin and will need to be put in the refrigerator for several hours, or overnight to thicken up slightly. Although the finished batter may still seem thin, don't worry; it should be the consistency of thick cream.
Once the batter has thickened, remove it from the refrigerator and give it a quick whisk.
Heat a 9-inch, non-stick skillet over medium heat. You can spray the pan with vegetable oil if you like, however the batter has a lot of butter in it and oil is not needed (as long as your non-stick is in good condition).
Pour 1/4 - 1/2 cup of batter into the pre-heated pan and swirl the pan around until the bottom is thinly coated with batter. Cook for 2-3 minutes per side. After making 2 crepes, add a couple drops of yellow and red food coloring into the remaining batter. Cook 2 more crepes with the colored batter. Then add a couple more drops of red and yellow food coloring to the batter. Repeat this process until you have used all the batter. This makes 8 different shades of crepes.
Once the crepes have cooled, trim any dark, crispy ends. This is also an opportunity to even out any oddly shaped crepes.
Pumpkin Pastry Cream
2 cups milk
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/3 cup additional granulated sugar
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 heaping cup of pumpkin puree
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup granulated sugar
Pastry Cream: Heat a saucepan on medium-high heat and bring the milk and 3/4 cup sugar to a boil; mix to dissolve the sugar. Remove from heat.
In a medium bowl, mix together the egg yolks, egg, cornstarch, and 1/3 cup sugar until smooth (don't worry if there are a few lumps from the cornstarch). Slowly add a 1/2 cup of the hot milk into the egg mixture to temper the eggs. Then slowly add the remaining milk to the egg mixture.
Return the mixture to the saucepan, and bring to a simmer on medium heat. The mixture will thicken within a few minutes. Once thickened remove from the heat and add butter, vanilla, pumpkin puree, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Mix well. Pour the finished pastry cream into a container and put a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Chill completely (several hours or overnight).
Whipped Cream: In a large bowl, mix heavy cream and 1/4 cup sugar with an electric mixer (you can do this by hand as well). Beat the cream until stiff peaks are formed.
Add 1/3 of the chilled pumpkin pastry cream to the whipped cream and fold to incorporate. Fold the remaining pastry cream into the whipped cream in thirds.
Assemble: Start with the darkest shade of crepe on the bottom. Top the crepe with about a 1/4 cup of the pumpkin cream and spread as evenly as possible. Place the second crepe on top of the spread cream. Repeat until all 16 crepes have been used. Do not put cream on top of the final crepe.
Brûlée: Liberally sprinkle about 1/2 cup of granulated sugar over the top of the cake. Using a blowtorch, caramelize the sugar until it is a golden brown color. This will heat up the top layer of cream and soften it some.
Refrigerate the finished cake for about 2 hours before serving. This allows the pumpkin cream to firm up and will make the cake easier to cut.
I served the cake with a Salted Butter Chocolate Sauce. This recipe comes from David Lebovitz's wonderful blog (please follow this link for the recipe). After spending so much time making the crepe cake, the chocolate sauce felt like a breeze to prepare. It took less than 10 minutes to make and was decadent; a wonderful complement to the pumpkin, cream, and crepe.