Vanilla Bean Crepe Cake and Basic Crepes w/variations

Vanilla Bean Crepe Cake

12 Sweet Crepes  made with 3 tablespoons batter each, or purchased crepes
2 8 - ounce cartons mascarpone cheese*
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1/3 cup whipping cream
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste** or 1 tablespoon vanilla
1/3 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups assorted berries (raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, and/or quartered strawberries)

For filling: In a medium mixing bowl, beat the mascarpone cheese, 2/3 cup powdered sugar, 1/3 cup whipping cream and 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste with an electric mixer on medium speed until well combined. Place one crepe on a cake plate. Spread 1/4 cup of the filling almost to the edge of the crepe. Repeat with remaining crepes and filling, stacking as you go and ending with a crepe. (We found it easiest to spread filling on the crepes while they were on a flat surface, then lay them on the cake.) Chill, loosely covered, for at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours.
To serve, remove cake from refrigerator. In a chilled medium mixing bowl, beat 1/3 cup whipping cream, 1 tablespoon powdered sugar and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla bean paste with an electric mixer until soft peaks form (tips curl). Top cake with whipped cream and 1 cup berries. Pass remaining berries.


*Shopping Tip Mascarpone is an Italian cheese similar to cream cheese minus the tang. Its buttery richness really shines in this cake, and we found in testing that cream cheese just didn't compare. Mascarpone can be expensive, so shop around. (Locally, we've found the best prices at Trader Joe's.)


**Shopping Tip Vanilla bean paste is available online or at specialty stores. (Nielsen-Massey is a reliable brand.) Use it in pale desserts where you want to see telltale specks of vanilla seeds.

Basic Crepes with Variations

1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup water
2 eggs
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon salt
Melted butter

In a blender, combine flour, milk, water, eggs, 3 tablespoons butter and the salt. Cover and blend for 15 to 20 seconds or until batter is smooth. Let batter stand at room temperature for 10 minutes or chill, covered, for 45 minutes or up to 1 day. Allow refrigerated batter to come to room temperature and stir before using.
Heat an 8-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Brush skillet lightly with melted butter. Pour or ladle batter into skillet, using about 3 tablespoons unless otherwise directed. Tip and swirl pan to get a thin, even circle of batter. Cook for about 40 seconds or until bottom is golden brown. Using a thin spatula or knife, loosen the edge and turn the crepe. Cook for 10 seconds more. Slide or flip crepe onto a plate or paper towels. Repeat with remaining batter, buttering skillet and adjusting heat as necessary. Serve immediately, or layer crepes between sheets of waxed paper in a resealable plastic bag and store in the refrigerator (up to 3 days) or freezer (up to 2 months). Thaw before using.


Sweet Crepes Add 2 tablespoons sugar to batter when blending.


Whole Wheat Crepes Substitute white whole wheat flour for the all-purpose flour.


Chocolate Crepes Add 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder to batter when blending.


Herb Crepes Add fresh herbs when blending, using 1/4 cup loosely packed milder herbs (such as parsley, basil or cilantro) or 2 tablespoons stronger herbs (such as sage, thyme and tarragon).


Buckwheat Crepes Substitute 2/3 cup buckwheat flour for 2/3 cup of all-purpose flour.

Whole Vanilla Bean Paste

50g sugar (use vanilla sugar if you have already made some) 3 1/2 T.
50ml water - a bit less than 3 1/2 T.
1/4 teaspoon corn syrup (optional)(helps stop sugar crystals forming)
4 vanilla beans, finely ground

How to make: Combine the sugar, water and corn syrup in a small saucepan and place over a low heat, stir with a wooden spoon until all the sugar has dissolved. Increase the heat and bring the syrup to a boil for about a minute. Remove from the heat and cool. Pour the cooled syrup into a clean sterilized jar and stir in the powdered vanilla beans. Cover with a lid and store in the refrigerator, leave for a couple of days before using. Use within six weeks. If a recipe calls for 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract use 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla paste instead.