Gluten-free Chocolate Crêpe Cake

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Gluten-free chocolate crêpe cake, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Crêpes are great – and if you ever hear anyone say otherwise you can safely assume that they don’t know what they are talking about or perhaps did not have an opportunity to try some. Perhaps they don’t know that plant-based, 100% vegan crêpes are easy to make, or perhaps they don’t or can’t consume gluten and are unaware that gluten-free crêpes are within their reach. Or, and this is the final myth that I will dispel, they think that only highly skilled and trained chefs can embark on crêpe making, which is far from reality.

If you own a flat frying pan, and have a whisk that you are willing to use (or a blender!), you can make crêpes. These light, thin, flat pancakes are versatile and can be made into a savory dish, like these Scallion Crêpes, or topped with a range of sweet toppings for a quick and easy breakfast or dessert.

But, there is more to crêpes than that and I recently discovered that you can use them to make multilayered cakes! It usually takes 10-12 crêpes, nice, relatively firm filing, and topping of choice and you’ll have an impressive looking no-bake cake on your hands.

I wanted to make my crêpe cake gluten-free as well, so I followed a crêpe recipe that uses chickpea flour since that was the the type of flour I had on hand (I found the recipe in The Chickpea Flour Cookbook by Camilla Saulsbury and I recommend you check this cookbook out because it does offer lots of gluten-free recipes with helpful comments on how to make each recipe vegan!). The recipe below is a slight modification from the original as I added more almond milk and some vanilla extract, and you should feel free to customize the flavors further or replace some of the flour with cocoa powder if you want your cake to be all chocolate all the way. Additionally, if you prefer to omit oil you can do that as well – here is another excellent and very simple recipe.

The cake is easy to assemble and looks fantastic! If you are not sure you like chickpea flour you can use any gluten-free pancake mix and make a batter that is less dense than your standard pancakes. One way to test whether your batter is the way it’s supposed to be is to pour 1/2 cup in the middle of the pan and then swirl it around until the entire bottom is well covered. If your batter can do this you are all set, if not perhaps you need to add just a bit more water. Go slowly and test frequently, because you don’t want to end up with unusable slurry either.

If you would like to add some sweetness to the crêpes, feel free to add a bit of maple syrup, agave nectar, or other sweetener you like. The chocolate filling and the ganache are quite sweet so you may not need this extra sugar.

Making the chocolate filling is also simple – if you ever made pudding you will know what to do. The filling requires some simmering almond milk, starch and agar, as well we some dark cocoa and maple syrup, and needs to cook over low heat until dense. What  kicks the filling up a notch is orange zest which adds citrus tones to the entire cake.

You will need to let your crêpes cool then put the cake together by layering a crêpe then covering it with a tablespoon or two of the chocolate filling, then placing another crêpe on top, the the filling and so on and so forth until all the filling is used up.

The last touch is chocolate ganache which you can make in the microwave, and pour all over the cake to completely cover the layers. You can decorate the cake with freshly cut strawberries, blueberries, toasted almonds, or some whip cream. Use your imagination to make it unique and incredible!

 

Gluten-free Chocolate Crêpe Cake

What you’ll need:

FOR THE CREPES:

2 cups chickpea flour

6 tablespoons egg replacer (I used Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-free Egg Replacer)

12 tablespoons water (to prep the egg replacer)

6 tablespoons olive oil

2 1/2 cups almond milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Vegetable oil for the pan

FOR THE FILLING:

1 cup almond milk, unsweetened, preferably vanilla flavor

2 tablespoons tapioca starch

1/2 teaspoon agar agar powder

4 tablespoons maple syrup

2 tablespoons dark cocoa

1 teaspoon vanilla extract (add more if using plain almond milk)

Zest of one orange

FOR DARK CHOCOLATE GANACHE:

2 cups dark semi-sweet chocolate chips (vegan, like Enjoy Life)

4 tablespoons vegan cream or half’n’half (I used ripple; you can also use any plant-based milk as well, but decrease the amount to 2-3 tablespoons)

4-5 large strawberries, sliced – for decoration (optional)

 

What you’ll do:

  1. Prepare egg replacer according to instructions. If using flax meal based egg replacer or similar the preparations may require soaking the flax meal in hot water for 5-10 minutes usually by mixing the dry ingredients with water in 1:2 ration (in this case 6 tablespoons egg replacer and 12 tablespoons water).
  2. Mix all the crêpe ingredients (except oil for the pan) using a blender, a mixer or a whisk. The batter should be smooth and clump free.
  3. Place a large frying pan over high heat. Use a brush to brush the oil across the hot surface of the frying pan, then pour in 1/3-1/2 cup of batter and twirl the pan around until all the bottom if covered with a uniform layer of the batter.
  4. Leave the pan over medium-high heat until the surface is completely dry, then flip the crêpe over and continue cooking for 2-3 minutes on the other side. Continue until all the batter is used up, and leave the crêpes to cool.
  5. For the filling start from cold ingredients and bring the almond milk to a gentle boil. Mix tapioca starch and agar powder into the hot milk and continue cooking over low hear until the mix firms up. Leave the mix to cool, which make take some time. You could make both the crêpes and the filling a day ahead and assemble the cake couple of hours before serving.
  6. To assemble this cake, please use a large plate or a cake stand and start by placing a crêpe on the bottom, then the filling (1-2 tablespoons), then another crêpe and more cake filling until no filling is left!
  7. To prepare a ganache, place the chocolate chips and milk, cream or half’n’ half into a microwave safe bowl and microwave on high for 30 seconds. Mix and microwave again, check and repeat until chocolate is about 60% melted. Take the bowl out and start mixing to help finish the melting process.
  8. Pour the melted chocolate ganache over the top and spread as evenly as possible over the top and around the sides. Decorate with fresh strawberries, set aside for 2-3 hours then dive in!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2018

Free and Beautiful – Flourless Double Chocolate Brownies with Chickpeas and Oats

Just how free and beautiful are these brownies? On the “free” side they are vegan, so dairy-free and egg-free, they are also gluten-free and nut-free, plus they are no-added sugar! So, what on Earth do they have? They have plenty of chocolate, cocoa powder, and cocoa nibs, which gives them their chocolate richness.

They are also full of ingredients that you will not find in your regular brownies, like a banana I use here for sweetness and a egg replacement, and oats and chickpeas, which I use as the key flour-like components. Chickpeas and the chickpea water – the miraculous aquafaba – are essential here. They add the protein needed to help give the brownies a bit of structure and texture. They combine well with oats so that the result is not chocolate oatmeal but a real double chocolate brownie with a bite and a chew.

For this and other baking projects, like my meatloaf and my marshmallow topping, I suggest you try making your own chickpeas. They do need some work – you soak them overnight in lots of water, then you rinse them and boil them in double the amount of water to get soft chickpeas and very useful aquafaba. I cook them in an electric pressure cooker on the “beans” setting. To help aquafaba along, I recommend letting the liquid that chickpeas were cooked in sit in the refrigerator for a day or so before using.

Other than cooking the chickpeas that’s a bit elaborate, everything else is smooth sailing. You will need a large food processor, pile everything in, and pulse to mix and combine. The baking is a standard deal, using a 350 F (175 C) oven and taking somewhere between 20 and 25 minutes. Let your brownies rest for at least 15 minutes before serving, then cut and plate. They’d be great with some vanilla nicecream, if you’d like to make them fancy. They are also great as is or with some orange zest on top.

Flourless Double Chocolate Brownies with Chickpeas and Oats

What you’ll need:

2 cups oats, gluten-free

2 cups chickpeas, cooked

1 banana

3/4 cup aquafaba

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1/3 cup chocolate chips or chunks, vegan

2 tablespoons cocoa nibs

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 teaspoon baking powder

What you’ll do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F (175 C).
  2. Place cooked chickpeas, oats, roughly chopped banana, and all the rest of the ingredients except chocolate chips and cocoa nibs into a food processor, and process until you form a dough.
  3. Add the cocoa nibs and chocolate chips and mix everything together.
  4. Pour the mix into a square, 8 x 8 in (20 x 20 cm) baking dish and put your brownies to bake for 20 minutes.
  5. Take the brownies out and let them rest for at least 15 minutes before cutting and serving. Enjoy with some vegan ice cream or as is!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2018

Gluten-Free (and Vegan) Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls

Gluten-free and Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

If you are looking for a quick, fun, satisfying and irresistible dessert, well look no further. These Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls are it!

They are no-bake dessert that you can whip up on a whim by using a handful of ingredients, most of which you can find in your local grocery store or easily make in a food processor. Some ingredients that you likely already have are almond flour, coconut flour, vegan chocolate chips (I recommend Enjoy Life brand, especially the mini chocolate chips!), almond milk, almond extract, agave nectar, and vanilla bean. Mixing all these together will give you lovely and yummy treats.

What kicks the flavor over the top for me is mesquite powder. Yup, you heard that right – mesquite! This is a new ingredient for me and I’ve been experimenting with its use. The powder comes from and can be used raw, so I’ve been adding it to smoothies. The powder has an earthy and nutty flavor, and that’s why it works really well in these treats.

One tip: add the almond milk gradually in small increments, 1/4 cup at a time. After each addition mix your ingredients well and let them rest for few second before adding more milk. This will help your cookie dough absorb the liquid and result in a moist dough that will come together well as you roll it.

And speaking of rolling, be gentle but not too gentle. The dough should not be crumbly – if it is you likely need a drop or two more almond milk or if you like to kick it up a notch in terms of calories you could add some almond butter which will help hold things together. Use the same technique you would when putting together meatballs: scoop a tablespoon or so of the dough into the palm of your hand and start rolling and squeezing at the same time until you have a nice little treat in your hand.

Since these cookie doughs are free of eggs, butter and flour, they are totally fine to snack on as you make them. Just remember to save a few for later!

Gluten-Free (and Vegan) Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls

What you’ll need:

1 cup almond flour

1 cup coconut flour

1/4 cup mesquite powder

1/4 cup agave nectar (maple syrup, or other sweetener of choice)

1 teaspoon almond extract

1 vanilla bean, scraped

1 cup mini chocolate chips, vegan

3/4 – 1 cup vanilla almond milk, unsweetened (or another dairy-free alternative; if you are using a sweetened version just add less agave nectar; if you are using plain version add a bit more vanilla bean)

What you’ll do:

  1. In a large mixing combine all the ingredients except almond milk. Mix well and start adding the milk, 1/4 cup at a time. The final dough should be moist but not wet.
  2. Using your hands, take one tablespoon of the chocolate cookie dough mix and shape it into a tight ball. As you are shaping the ball, keep rolling and pressing. The ball should stick together, if not consider adding a tablespoon or two of almond milk.
  3. You can enjoy these chocolate cookie dough balls immediately. They are best freshly made, but they also keep ok, covered at room temperature for 2 days or so.

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2018

Holiday Peppermint Bark – Vegan and Jolly!

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Holiday Peppermint Bark, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

There is something diabolically good about combining dark chocolate with some peppermint flavor. And adding some white chocolate to the mix makes it simply to wicked for words, and it also makes it into a winter holiday classic called Peppermint Bark. In a nutshell, peppermint bark is a layer of melted chocolate with some crushed peppermint candies mixed into it. The chocolate cools and sets with pieces of the peppermint candy poking out of it, giving it a tree bark sort of texture and appearance.

The fancy examples of the Peppermint Bark have two chocolate layers, one dark and the other white, and since it’s the Holidays I am going for the fancy here! Finding vegan dark chocolate these days is easy – even my large supermarket chain carries couple of different options. But, finding a vegan white chocolate is a bit trickier – read impossible at least in my ecosystem. So, I stepped up to the challenge and made my own perfectly silky vegan white chocolate. I suppose that makes me an accomplished chocolatier?

Well, that is to be determined, for now all I can say is that this Peppermint Bark will put a smile on your face. Best of all, no fancy baking required. All it takes is a microwave and lots of mixing because you’ll be melting the dark chocolate, then immediately afterwards the white chocolate, which is a mix of coconut butter, pea protein powder, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract. Finally, making of the Peppermint Bark comes with a tension and stress release valve, as it requires you to take a hammer to peppermint candy or candy canes, and give them some good whacking!!!

Other than that it’s all about waiting for the Bark to set, which may take couple of hours. Be patient and you’ll be rewarded with one of the holiday season favorites that you can enjoy, or better still share with your family, friends, neighbors… Ho, ho, ho!

And if you are up to trying something slightly healthier this holiday season, my Pumpkin Truffles, Squash Pie, or Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Cups are a better option. The Peppermint Bark is pure indulgence.

Holiday Peppermint Bark

What you’ll need:

2 cups dark chocolate chips or chunks, vegan

2 cups coconut oil, melted (unrefined if you like a slight hint of coconut or refined if you don’t)

2 scoops pea protein powder

1/3 cup vegan shortening

1/3 cup powdered sugar

1 1/2 cup smashed peppermint candy canes, divided (8 – 10 peppermint candy canes, unwrapped, placed into a ziplock bag, and smashed with a can, or another heavy implement until broken up into small chunks)

1/2 teaspoon peppermint oil or extract

 

What you’ll do:

  1. Line a 9 x 13 in (23 x 33 cm) pan or a baking dish with a piece of parchment paper that’s cut to fit. Set aside.
  2. Melt the dark chocolate in the microwave or over a double boiler. Microwave melting is straightforward but it does need hand holding an frequent checking on the chocolate. Keep an eye for any sign of overheating and stop immediately if chocolate starts to separate. Melt until 80% is smooth, then add the peppermint oil and continue mixing until everything is melted and smooth. Pour into the baking dish. Leave to set for 30 minutes on the kitchen counter or 5-10 minutes in a fridge.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the melted coconut oil – I left my jar in a pot of hot water for an hour and that did the trick – with pea protein powder, shortening, vanilla extract, sugar, and 1 cup of smashed candy canes. Mix well to combine and pour over the dark chocolate layer. Sprinkle the 1/2 cup of smashed peppermint candy canes on top. They’ll sink in as the white chocolate solidifies and give this treat it’s bark.
  4. Leave the Peppermint Bark in a fridge for 1-2 hours then slide out of the dish, peel off the parchment paper and cut into pieces. If you are a skillful chocolatier, which I am not, you can make both dark and white chocolate layers very thin and then break the Bark into pieces by hand. Either way ’tis the season to be jolly, and this is one jolly treat!!!

Copyright ©Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017

Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Cups

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Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Cups, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow
Halloween is almost upon us, which means that piles and piles of candy are everywhere!!! Most of the store bought stuff is, of course, not very good for you. Don’t get me wrong – sweets and candy have their time and place, and a little bit of chocolate at the right moment can go a long way towards restoring harmony in the universe. But finding a vegan-friendly treat that’s rich in flavor yet light in calories, that’s healthy yet decadent, is not easy.

Since transitioning into plant-based, low fat, salt and sugar eating and cooking, I’ve been satisfying my sweet tooth with lots of fruit and lots of smoothiescookies, apple crumbles, muffins, and even chocolate cake that use tons of fruits and sweet veggies (like carrots, bananas, apples, raisins…) to build sweetness without extra sugar. But, there comes a point in everyone’s life when chocolate becomes a necessity, and here’s my answer for those cravings – Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Cups.

These treats are no-bake and super easy to make. You will need some specialized equipment, like a mini muffin pan, the one with 24 muffin holes, and some mini muffin liners, the same kind you would use to line the pan if you were baking muffins. The liners help hold the cups as well as give them the traditional shapes edges.

When it comes to chocolate, you can use any kind you like. My recipe does not use any additional sweeteners, so all the sweetness comes from the chocolate and from the natural sweetness of the almond butter. That’s why I recommend using semi-sweet dark chocolate that does have some sugar added to it. Alternatively, you can add some maple syrup to the almond butter filling and that will elevate the sweetness level. Having said that, I hope you give my original recipe a try before making adjustments because I thought these Dark Chocolate Almond Butter cups turned out just right!

The recipe could not be simpler. You will need to line the mini muffin pan with liners, melt the chocolate using either a double boiler, which you can make yourself, or a microwave, soften the almond butter and mix it with almond meal and maple syrup extract and then work fast to place a tablespoon of melted chocolate in each mini muffin cup, then place a half tablespoon of almond butter filling, which you will need to shape with your fingers into a tiny patty, on top of each chocolate layer, and finally top the almond butter filling with more melted chocolate.

Assembling these Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Cups is a bit of a mad dash but it’s also a lot of fun, with melted chocolate dripping and the aroma of almond butter filling. If you are wondering why I decided to add artificial maple syrup flavor instead of the real thing the answer is simple: calories! The flavoring agent adds just enough warmth to the filling and contributes no calories to the final treat. If you bothered by the idea of an artificial ingredient, skip it or replace it with a dash of cinnamon and/or splash of vanilla extract.

Once filled, Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Cups go into a refrigerator for 30 minutes or so, which will help them firm up. You should leave them out at room temperature for about the same amount of time before serving and you’ll have melt-in-your-mouth, rich and decadent, yet good for you, treat to share (or not!).

Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Cups

What you’ll need:

2 cups dark chocolate chips or baking dark chocolate chip chunks

1 cup almond butter (unsalted, smooth)

3/4 cup almond meal

1 teaspoon imitation maple syrup (or cinnamon, and/or vanilla extract)

 

What you’ll do:

  1. Line the 24-hole mini muffin pan with baking liners.
  2. Put your chocolate chunks, pieces or chips, into either a double boiler or a microwave safe dish. If you are using a double boiler make sure you start mixing the chocolate continusouly until melted and smooth. If you are using a microwave I recommend going at 50% power and letting the chocolate go for 1-2 minutes at first and then check it at 30 second intervals. It is usually a good idea to pull the chocolate out when it is about 80% melted and then mix for a minute or two and use the heat of the chocolate to melt the rest.
  3. Place the almond butter in a different bowl and microwave for about 30 seconds. The almond butter should be soft but not runny. Add the almond meal and the flavoring agent of choice. Mix well.
  4. Pour a tablespoon of melted chocolate in each muffin hole.
  5. Use half a tablespoon of the almond butter filling and make a small patty with your fingers. Place the patty on top of the chocolate.
  6. Pour another half a tablespoon to a tablespoon of melted chocolate on top of the almond butter filling.
  7. Place the Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Cups into a refrigerator for 30 minutes or until firm and solid.
  8. Take the cups out of the mini muffin pan, and let them come to room temperature before enjoying. You can leave the paper liner on, or remove it – it’s up to you. Those  liners come in many different designs so you can have lots of fun with those as well.
  9. Enjoy!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017