When did being vanilla become an insult? This stack of golden crepes and creamy mascarpone is simple, elegant and deceptively delicious. Supermarket crepes are larger than homemade ones, so if you use purchased, you'll need to make an extra half-batch of filling, or just make a cake with fewer layers.
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.)
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.