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:
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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