I dream of Mara’s crepe cake – all 20 layers of them.
Manila’s dessert landscape sparkles with stars, one of which shines brighter. It’s the crepe cake, or properly referred to as the Gateau de Crepe (Vanilla) made by Mara de la Rama-Poblete. A simple cake it is, but one made entirely out of crepes, paper-thin and inspiring such adjectives as diaphanous and ethereal. Each of these crepes carries a cloud of vanilla crème, a gossamer component; it brings the briefest of sweetness to the tongue then vanishes like a memory.
And that is all this cake consists of: crepes and crème. Some will slice it into squares, I like to work my way in with wedges. My knife snakes in and slithers through, a serving displays every layer in stark contrast to the next. A forkful feeds me with a fragrance of sugar and vanilla – what I know heaven must smell like. In my mouth, I alternate between biting down on all layers or separating them with my tongue, all the while feeling the silky crème ooze through the crepes.
Filling layers of crepes is an age-old idea but only one woman in Manila thought to do it. And Mara does it with skill and flawless execution.
I’m a big fan of Mara and her crepe cake and to have her as a purveyor at my Dessert Comes First Christmas Gift List is an absolute coup for me. Her company, Dessert du Jour, also makes some of what I call “dessert finger foods.” One of those I’m most fond of are her Homemade Oreos, or faux-reos, if you will. Chocolate sandwich cookies sandwich a sugary, pleasingly gritty filling evoking fond memories of that packaged cookie we all love. Mara’s version is especially chocolaty, an Oreo for grown-ups.
“These are my ultimate top-sellers during the holidays, next to the crepe cake of course,” Mara says of her Belgian Brownie Bites. Evocative of the chocolate in their name, every “bite” is lush with smoke and cocoa punctured by bits of walnut. Truly, one “Bite” is not enough.
Mara’s ode to a food for the gods bar is something she calls Date & Nut Bar “Poppers.” Squares of a brown sugar bar fragrant with vanilla and butter are studded with nuggets of moist dates and I venture to say, walnuts. It’s a confection I’m initially confused with – why “poppers”? But as I taste and try, I realize why. I look down at the tin they’ve come in and my goodness, I’ve popped them all into my mouth!
A tin of all the wonderful things that Mara will be serving at the Dessert Comes First Christmas Gift List. (The crepe cake couldn’t fit in here).
Mara de la Rama-Poblete of Dessert du Jour
For inquiries and orders: (02) 806 9511/ (0917) 811 6272 / (0917) 803 6272