(Red Velvet Crepe Cake with Chocolate Mascarpone Whipped Cream and fresh berries, drizzled here with honey, though chocolate would be nice as well - recipe in post.)
Deny it as I may, Valentine's Day is approaching fast. To be honest, I've never been a fan of the big V. I've always considered it to be nothing but a Hallmark holiday, designed to sell cards and jewelry, and am of the belief that if you love someone you should say so when it's least expected, when you feel it most, and when it's truly sincere - not when you feel pressured or obligated.
(Fortunately for me, The Boyfriend fully agrees.)
However, as a very wise friend of mine says: Hallmark or not, never pass up an opportunity to say 'I love you'.
(Roses: baker's dozen.)
Besides which, as a foodie, it's hard not to get wrapped up in the bright red chocolate sensation.
So if you've got someone special you love this Valentine's Day, I've got one crazy delicious way to say it.
Red Velvet Crepes - fit for a cake, but just as perfect for breakfast. That's right, this recipe is a two in one deal. Imagine, breakfast in bed, or a sweet dessert! Either way, you're sure to impress that special someone.
(Red velvet crepes, rolled into 'roses' and served in mugs of chocolate mascarpone whipped cream and strawberries - 'Breakfast in bed', anyone?)
(Actual roses - my staging test.)
The inspiration for these came from Eva Toneva's chocolate crepes - I am in complete awe of how gorgeous her photos are. I can only hope to one day make a single crepe as pretty as hers. We should all have goals to reach for.
One of the greatest things about this recipe is that the batter can be made the night before, so it's incredibly easy to whip up a batch for breakfast before your significant other has a chance to catch you red handed. Literally.
(Note to self: use caution when handling food coloring).
(Leftover chocolate mascarpone whipped cream, served as a simple pots de creme and topped with fresh raspberries.)
And did I mention this Chocolate Mascarpone Whipped Cream? I was going about my business, cooking crepes and humming tunes, when I made this decadent filling. Let's just say I burned some crepes while I was busy licking beaters... and fingers... and spoons that had somehow been dipped into it.
One batch was about double enough for a single batch of crepes, but I highly recommend making the full recipe. Having a jar sitting in the fridge with some fresh berries is not a bad thing.
Red Velvet Crepes with chocolate mascarpone whipped cream
(Crepe recipe adapted from Epicurious - makes 15-20 crepes)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cake flour (or more all-purpose - the cake flour will make them more tender)
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. sea salt
2 TBSP unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups buttermilk (or 1 7/8th cup whole milk + 1.5 TBSP vinegar or lemon juice, set aside to sour for five minutes)
1 - 2 cups milk (whole, skim, or substitute)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 TBSP unsalted butter, melted
1 TBSP red gel food coloring (I use Wilton's no-taste, but you may need slightly more or less depending on brand)
2 tsp. vanilla extract
The Chocolate Mascarpone Whipped Cream:
8 oz. Mascarpone cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups heavy cream, chilled
1/2 cup granulated sugar
Jam (raspberry is nice)
In a bowl, whisk or sift together the flour, baking powder/soda, salt, and cocoa powder. Set aside.
In another bowl, thoroughly combine the buttermilk, sugar, egg, melted butter, vanilla extract, food coloring, and 1 cup of the regular milk.
Add the wet to the dry, whisking thoroughly as you go. Because we're making crepes and not a regular cake, you don't have to worry about 'overworking' the batter - I find an easy way to make sure there aren't any lumps is to mix the whole thing in the blender. If you do this be careful of spatters, or else you may end up with the kitchen looking like the scene of a crime.
Add the additional cup of milk as needed to make the batter very thin and soupy. If the batter is thick you'll be making pancakes, not crepes.
The batter will look pink, but when it cooks the color will deepen considerably. At this point you can use it right away, or store it in the fridge overnight.
When you're ready to make the crepes, heat a non-stick skillet over medium and spray or brush lightly with oil or butter.
If your batter has been sitting in the fridge, give it a stir (or a whirl in the blender) before using. Pour about 1/4 - 1/2 cup of batter into the center of the skillet, lift the pan off the stove and swirl the batter around to all sides. You want it to be a very thin layer - you can add more to fill any gaps, or if you have significant extra in the pan you can pour it back into the rest of the batch. The drip up the side of the pan will cook and can be torn off the crepe later.
Let the crepe cook until all glossiness is gone from the top side and the edges are dry - usually no more than a minute or so, depending on thickness. Using a non-metal spatula, loosen the edges of the crepe and gently flip it over. I find using my fingers is a great help in not tearing the delicate crepe, but if you do this be careful not to burn yourself. If the crepes are still too delicate, it may be that they need to cook longer. Let them go for another 30 seconds and try again.
Once the crepe is flipped, let it cook another 30-45 seconds, then remove it to a plate in the oven (175f. - 200f.) to keep warm until serving.
Repeat with the rest of the batter.
For the Chocolate Mascarpone Whipped Cream:
In a bowl, mush together the mascarpone, cocoa powder, and vanilla extract. Add a touch of heavy cream to make it easier to mix if you have to - you want the chocolate to not be so powdery, so when you turn the mixer on it doesn't go flying.
Using a hand or stand mixer, beat the mascarpone mixture until fluffy. Add the sugar and heavy cream, and whip to stiff peaks. Can be stored for up to a few days in the fridge.
Serve the crepes with the chocolate cream (and/or any jams or fillings you like), fresh berries, and a drizzle of honey or melted chocolate. To roll them into 'roses', lay your crepe with the best side facing down. Fold it in half, then in half again creating a triangle. Roll the triangle into a cone, and place in a short cup or mug to help it hold its shape.
Or, stack and layer your crepes into a cake! For my cake I used two batches of crepes and one batch of chocolate mascarpone whipped cream. Feel free to double that for a taller cake. Simply lay one crepe onto a plate or platter, spread with filling, top with another crepe, and repeat. I finished my cake with fresh strawberries, raspberries, and an sweet drizzle of honey.
Either way you choose to go, these crepes are decadent (cake for breakfast? Yes please!), easy to make, and sure to please.
Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
Here is a crepe cake
I made for you!
(Seriously, can you really say 'no'?)
While it's fun to be fancy, saying I love you can sometimes mean the most when it's said simply. The things not listed in this recipe are truth, sincerity, no-frills honesty... - but they should by no means be forgotten. Say what you mean, mean what you say, and say it whenever you have the means. That's what I say.
To all my readers, I hope you treat yourself to lots of love this Valentine's Day (that goes for singles, too).
And to The Boyfriend, you are the highlight of my day. Every day.