Dark Chocolate Caramel Horchata Crepe Cake!
Updated: Dec 8, 2020
After forcing my mom to buy me a carton of heavy whipping cream for one of my extravagant baking projects, I knew I wouldn’t be in a good situation if I let it go to waste. So with half a carton of heavy whipping cream at my disposal, plus my usual household ingredients, I decided to try and make a crepe cake.
If you don’t already know, a crepe cake is just a mound of layered crepes with whipped cream in between. The simplest ones consist of plain crepes and whipped cream stacked, but they can get more extravagant with different flavors, formulas, and fillings. For my crepe cake, the goal was to keep things simple while making it as flavorful as possible, so I chose to make my cake chocolate and caramel horchata flavored.
Since I didn’t go to the store to buy any new ingredients, everything I used had to be something I already owned. For the crepe batter, this did not prove to be a challenge.
I went with a basic crepe recipe, and altered it for my own needs. The batter ended up being dairy free since I had no milk or butter, but the simple substitution of almond milk and plant based butter worked just as well. I also added some freshly ground cinnamon and vanilla extract to the batter in order to achieve the flavor of Horchata. (Horchata is a Mexcian drink made with rice milk or regular milk and flavored with sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla.)
Once combined, I poured the batter into my smallest non-stick pan on low heat to make 15 crepes in total (although you can make as many as you like with more batter). They were soft and delicious and extremely easy to make, although it did take a good amount of patience to wait for all the crepes to cook.
Once the crepes were done, I set them in the fridge to cool, while I made my whipped cream.
Unfortunately, this was where disaster struck. I poured my heavy whipping cream in a bowl, only to see that there was barely ¼ cup of cream left. Unbeknownst to me, my mother had used a generous portion of the cream to make a Thai curry, which I will admit was delicious, but I was left with a meager amount for my whipped cream. This is when I decided to convert what would have been a simple caramel horchata flavored crepe cake into a chocolate one, since I knew I wouldn’t have enough whipped cream to fill all the layers of crepes. You live and you learn, right?
Going with the theme of horchata, I whipped my cream together with some powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and ground cinnamon and set it aside in the fridge.
I also decided to make a caramel sauce to drizzle in between the layers. However, since I didn’t have any dairy in my posession, (for some reason my whole family is weird about milk) I had to, once again, resort to soy milk and vegan butter. Together with some brown sugar over medium heat, I managed to make a vegan caramel sauce.
And while it did taste wonderful, especially mixed in with every other delicious aspect of the cake, a vegan caramel tastes slightly less rich and falvorful than a regular caramel would. Here's why:
Caramel is usually made by melting down sugar with butter and cream. While these three ingredients on their own taste quite plain and surface leve, combining them with heat creates a whole new product. As the sugar melts, the sugar loses molecules of water, becoming more concentrated and more flavorful. Additionally, caramel takes advantage of the mallard reaction, a reaction where proteins and sugars transform in heat to create completely new molecules filled with unique textures and flavors.
The combination of the heated sugar and protein and fat from the milk and butter create multiple different chemical reactions that result in richer, warmer tasting flavors and a deeper colored caramel sauce—almost like magic!
Next was the assembly, the best part by far. I melted some dark chocolate and coconut oil to use as the filling along with the whipped cream. I began layering: crepe, whipped cream, caramel drizzle, crepe, chocolate, and then repeated the whole thing. I did this until the very last crepe, and topped it off with another layer of whipped cream and caramel sauce.
After cooling, I encased the entire cake in a layer of melted dark chocolate.
For decoration, I added some more caramel drizzle, some powdered sugar, and a sprig of mint.
While it looks beautiful just like this, the real treat was cutting into the cake to reveal the magnificent layers of crepe, chocolate, and whipped cream. So much more satisfying than a regular layer cake:)
The freshness of spicy cinnamon paired with the richness of bittersweet chocolate really is fabulous, and the addition of a light caramel drizzle brought the whole cake together. Not too heavy, not too sweet, and not too dry. Chocolate-caramel-horchata heaven!
Dairy Free Crepes:
1 cup all purpose flour
2 cups almond milk
1 tablespoon plant based butter
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
⅓ cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ tablespoons on powdered sugar
¼ cup semi sweet chocolate chips
½ teaspoon coconut oil
Vegan Caramel Sauce:
4 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons plant based butter
Add soy milk as needed to thin sauce
Combine crepe ingredients in a bowl and whisk until well combined.
In a small, non-stick sauce pan on medium heat, pour ¼ cup of crepe batter until the crepe is solid.
Flip the crepe and cook for another 5-10 second
Combine ingredients in a bowl and whisk until soft peaks form.
Add chocolate and coconut oil in a microwave safe bowl and microwave on 30 second intervals until completely melted.
Stir between intervals.
Add brown sugar and butter to a saucepan and low heat and stir continuously until melted down.
Add soymilk as desired for consistency.
Layer crepe, whipped cream, caramel sauce, crepe, chocolate, and repeat until your crepe cake is formed! Decorate as you wish:)