Gâteau Mille Crepes, literally translated to “thousand crepe cake,” is a classic French dessert that’s been around for centuries. It is, as the name implies, a cake made of stacked crepes held together by pastry creme or jam or whatever strikes your fancy. I first heard of this dessert in an episode of a show I was watching years ago – the main character, a young girl studying to become a pastry chef, was challenged to make this confection. Her first attempt failed horrendously, and I, being the competitive (and slightly bratty) sixteen year old I was, absolutely had to perfect this dessert before she did in the following week’s episode.
The first time I made mille crepes was actually the first time I ever made any crepe, and, incidentally, the first time I even ate a crepe. I realized that the most difficult part about making this was being able to set aside the time required for it to chill before cutting into it. Granted, the technique for making crepes takes some getting used to, and you’ll most likely mess up the first few if you haven’t made them before (and sometimes even if you have), but there isn’t much that’s more satisfying than watching your little crepes turn into a beautifully impressive crepe cake.
In this recipe, I used a chocolate hazelnut cream that I whipped up using Nutella, but you could easily fill the cake with any other cream, jam, or even ganache! Pastry cream and sliced strawberries are always a classic (and actually my favorite filling for a crepe cake), but you could use literally anything that strikes your fancy. A savory crepe cake with spinach and ricotta would probably be delicious also – get creative with it!
I won’t teach you how to make crepes since all the recipes out there use essentially the same ingredients and technique, but I will instead link you to a great and easy tutorial.
- When making the crepes, it’s handy to measure out the liquid batter with the same small measuring cup every time to keep your crepes consistent – for my 8 inch frying pan, I use a 1/4 cup measuring cup.
- You can use literally anything to fill between the layers but a slightly thick, sturdy cream/jam/ganache/etc. works the best so the layers don’t try to slide around if you move the cake or when you cut into it.
- Chilling is absolutely essential. If you try to cut this immediately after assembled, nine out of ten times the layers will slide around and off your cake.
- Save one perfect looking crepe to place on top. The appearance of the rest of your crepes won’t matter since they’ll be buried inside the cake so don’t worry if they don’t look too appealing, you only need one perfect one for the top.
- You can decorate this any way you please! I piped swirls on top with some leftover cream and stuck a strawberry in the middle, but you could pipe anything, cover it in powdered sugar, or even cover the entire cake in whipped cream or ganache. Let your imagination run wild!
Chocolate Hazelnut Mille Crêpes
- 20 crepes (this is a great recipe)
- 1 stick butter, room temperature
- 4 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
- 1/2 cup chocolate-hazelnut spread
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1-2 tablespoons heavy cream (or milk)
- For the cream: Beat butter and cream cheese on low speed until smooth. Add chocolate-hazelnut spread and powdered sugar and beat until most of the sugar is combined. Add heavy cream one teaspoon at a time until desired consistency is reached. (Take care not to add to much; you want the cream to be kind of stiff.)
- To assemble: Smear a teaspoon of the cream onto a cake plate and place one prepared crepe on top of it. With an offset spatula, spread a thin layer of cream onto the crepe. Top with another prepared crepe and repeat layers until you’ve run out of either cream or crepes. End with a crepe on top.
- Refrigerate the prepared cake for at least two hours to set. You may serve it directly out of the fridge.