Ryan Thomas is a university graduate who enjoys cooking recipes from a wide variety of culinary traditions.
A while ago I made a crêpe layer cake: layers of crêpes stacked with whipped cream with chocolate, coffee, and orange in between, and a chocolate ganache poured over the top. It was unbelievably delicious, dense crêpes with this wonderful medley of flavors, taken from a French video from INA (Institut national de l'audiovisuel) from the 1950s, incorporating enough alcohol to kill several people, with seductive fruity chocolate-orange and deep tones from the coffee. The curtain of chocolate over the top made it a sight to behold. Cut into it, and one would find elegant layers of crêpes, stacked on top of each other in their dozens. A few strawberries on top only completed the picture of a wonderfully sophisticated, beautiful, rich, and tasty cake, which I was convinced could have been easily served in a fine restaurant—and left me with the desire to make another one!
Thus came round two, with layers of red bean paste pancakes, cherry whipped cream—and my fatal weakness, matcha whipped cream. I personally liked the result, but it looked strange indeed, with a giant cloud of green whipped cream on it, and the rest of my family found the matcha flavor to be too strong. Once that was scraped off, the inside was perfectly fine, even delicious . . . but it meant that I would have to return to the drawing board again.
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What I came up with was for me just as delicious as I could have hoped. Layers of red bean paste pancakes, deliciously rich and with the simultaneously earthy and fruity overtones from the red bean paste and with their heady elixir of alcohols found within, layers of cherry whipped cream, and the simple chocolate ganache to cover it all. Perhaps not as elegant in the photos due to the mixture of cherry whipped cream and chocolate (I made it into two cakes so I could take one to some relatives while the other one would stay at home), but just as delicious. Disaster almost struck again when I tried to make a meringue to cover one of them (this didn't work as the required baking caused the whipped cream to ooze out), but the chocolate one was quite the hit in my opinion. Overall, a delicious and beautiful dessert.
For the pancakes:
- 1.1 pounds red bean paste
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 cups flour
- 2 cups beer
- 1/4 cup rum
- Pinch of salt
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 4 eggs
For the whipped cream:
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 (15-ounce) can sweet cherries
For the chocolate ganache:
- 4 ounces chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- Powdered sugar, for dusting when served
- Make the pancakes: In a large bowl, combine the red bean paste, beer, and milk. Using a fork and whisk, break apart the red bean paste and mix thoroughly with the liquid ingredients.
- Mix in sugar, eggs, vanilla, rum, and flour. Mix well to combine but don't overmix. Add additional beer as necessary if it is not wet enough; it should be rather liquid and drip down from a spoon when held up, to enable it to spread out on a pan. Add more flour if it is not dry enough.
- Melt a bit of butter in a frying pan or griddle over medium heat. Using a large ladle, pour out the batter and have it spread out into a large circle, the larger the better. Fry until it becomes reasonably solid beneath, then flip over, and cook again until it is firm on both sides. Transfer to a plate and stack.
- Repeat, adding additional butter, until all of the pancake batter is used up.
- Allow the pancakes to cool. Whip up the heavy cream with sugar until it is fluffy. Boil the juice from the cherries until it is a syrup, then pour it and the cherries (chopped in half), into the whipped cream, and combine thoroughly.
- Stack the pancakes on a cake platter or large dish, either as one (they may slide out so perhaps either a pole to fix them in place or separating them out into two) or as multiple piles, putting cherry whipped cream in the layers in between.
- Place the semi-sweet chocolate, preferably chocolate chips but in any case chopped into small pieces, into a large heat-proof bowl. Proceed in a microwave-safe bowl to microwave 1/2 cup of heavy cream for 1 minute, then pour it over the chocolate. Allow to sit for 2-3 minutes, then whisk together until smooth, let cool for 10 minutes. Pour the ganache over the cake and its side.
- Serve anytime, preferably with powdered sugar on top just before eating.