On the day that we are suppose to declare and celebrate our love I find it fitting to divulge my obsession with crepes. After all they are the single most sexiest items to serve today or better yet tomorrow morning. They are the slimmer and sleeker version of the pancakes, that can be eaten anytime of the day, on a plate or rolled up to go in your hand, and made with minimal effort. The only down fall when serving them to order is that the cook is forced to eat last and most of the time alone since these suckers disappear quickly.
In comes the mille crepe cake. Layers of crepes and filling stacked high to form a cake which can be sliced and served all at once. Thomas Keller kills it with his orange zested pastry cream, and after having Lady M’s famous green tea version I was inspired to make a slightly faster fat scheme version. I opted for a strawberry whipped cream as a lighter filling than pastry cream since it’s easier to make and I wanted to taste the crepes more. The strawberries also add a tartness that balances out all the cream and sugar. The main difference with whipped cream versus pastry cream is that even after it’s chilled, it does not give as much adhesion between the layers of crepes and when you dig your fork into your slice it may a little messy if you do not chill it for a few hours. I got anxious and ate my slice less than an hour after chilling. Michael Ruhlman’s recipe for crepes in his book Ratio has never failed me and always produces these perfectly crisp, golden blankets ready to be filled, folded and devoured. Ideally the cake will have 20 layers of crepes, but do not fret if your batter yields a little less than this, it will be outstanding regardless. The rest time for the batter and the chill time after assembly is crucial, but beyond those two caveats this recipe is relatively basic for how impressive it looks! —Madhuri Sharma
Strawberry Cream Filling
powdered sugar (plus more for dusting)
Sprinkle the strawberries with 1-2 tbsp of sugar depending on their sweetness and microwave for 1 minute to get their juices flowing.
Whip the heavy cream with 1 tsp vanilla extract and 2 to 3 tbsp of powdered sugar depending on how sweet you would like it to be and keep chill.
Puree the strawberries in a food processor or blender and chill in the refrigerator.
You can make the crepe batter in a blender, mixer, or simply by whisking. Combine the eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla extract and salt until frothy. Slowly add in the flour until the batter looks smooth and slightly bubbly. Set the batter aside for atleast 30 minutes or refrigerate until use, but allow the batter to come back to room temperature before cooking.
While the batter is resting fold in the strawberry puree into the whipped cream until full incorporated.
Heat a 10 inch non stick skillet to medium heat. Soak the melted butter in a clean kitchen towel or paper napkin and wipe over pan. Holding the pan with one hand, pour about a 1/4 cup of the batter in the center of the, and immediately tilts the pan in a clockwise manner to spread the batter as evenly as possible covering up the surface of the bottom of the pan. Little gaps or holes are excusable since these will be stacked. When the edge of the crepe starts to brown and curl off the pan, and the center looks cooked slowly and carefully lift the crepe either with a spatula or delicate fingers and flip over to toast the other side for a minute. Set crepe aside to cool on a separate plate. Continue making the crepes layering them with parchment paper or paper towels between to keep them from sticking.
As the crepes cool you can begin the layering process. Place a crepe at the bottom of a cake plate or tray and spread a large dollop of the filling over the layer leaving an 1/8 inch at the edge. Place the next crepe over and repeat the process until the filling is done. The last layer should be topped with the last crepe. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. The longer the cake chills the better.
After thoroughly chilled, remove plastic and dust the top of the cake with powdered sugar and serve with fresh strawberries.