Easy Strawberry Vanilla Vegan Crepes

After the crazy first week of college that I’ve had, I could use a batch of these deliciously light crepes.


Hi! It’s been a while, I know. Quick update: I have since relocated to Philadelphia. Pennsylvania in the USA from Zimbabwe to start college at the University of Pennsylvania! How’s the first few weeks of college been? Insane, wild and fun to put it in a few words. Expect a blog post detailing my experiences to come soon!

Anyways, on to this recipe. I think that crepes are severely underrated and underappreciated. The French really had something going with this one. Crepes can be had as either a breakfast option or a dessert, but the best part of having crepes is that the basic recipe never changes but there is an infinite combination of crepe fillings. I just filled these with cacao macademia spread (a vegan alternative to Nutella) and fresh strawberries but you can go with whatever you like! I’ve previously used lemon curd, strawberry jam and even plain sugar. You can top them with powdered sugar, ice cream, custard, the limits go as far as your imagination!


Strawberry Vanilla Vegan Crepes 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 cups soy milk (or any other plant based milk)
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 2 tbsp any neutral oil (I used coconut oil but vegetable oil would work too)
  • ½ cup strawberry jam or chocolate spread
  • 100g fresh strawberries, sliced in half

Method

  1. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl. Stir together before pouring in the soy milk, vanilla essence and oil. Stir with a fork until just combined. Don’t worry about getting all the lumps out it’s okay if there are a few here and there. The batter should be very runny.
  2. Heat a large saucepan on high and brush with some oil. Try not to add to much oil to the pan otherwise the crepe batter will run with the oil. Use a ladle to pour the crepe batter in the saucepan. Swirl the pan around to spread the crepe batter all around the bottom of the pan. Cook until the edges of the crepe start to turn up, about 2 minutes, before turning over. Remove the warm crepe to a plate and store in a warm oven so that they don’t get cold. Repeat the process until you’ve used up all the crepe batter.
  3. Once you’ve cooked all the crepes, spread the lighter side of the crepes with some strawberry jam or chocolate spread. Fold the crepes into half and then into quarters before serving topped with the fresh strawberries. Enjoy!
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Cinnamon Vanilla Bread Pudding with Crème Anglais

Bread and pudding don’t even sound like they should be in the same sentence.

This has to be one of my favourite flavour combinations. Coupled with balsamic + honey and blue cheese + sweet chilli. Another thing that this dish combines is the ability to be both a dessert and a breakfast item. That is to say, any leftovers can be consumed at 9 pm whilst drinking hot chocolate and watching Game of Thrones. Yes.


To be honest with you, I used to be one of those people who thought that bread pudding was one of those things that should have never been invented. That was before I actually had bread pudding. It’s terribly easy, requires literally no effort, and it’s basically a French toast casserole. That’s the easiest way for me to put it. And the great thing about it is that it can be easily manipulated as long as the core ingredients (bread, eggs and salt) remain the same.

I would recommend using a rich eggy bread, such as challah or brioche bread, because it drastically improves the flavour. Any other types of bread would still work, but I would strongly recommend either one of those two. This recipe also works really well if your bread is stale. If your bread is fresh, you can cut it into cubes and leave in a baking tray overnight, out in the open. Or, for a quicker method, preheat your oven to 180º/350ºF and bake the bread cubes for about 10 minutes, or until hard. I also like to leave my bread chunks to absorb the egg mixture for about 30 minutes to obtain maximum flavour. You can add in extras like chocolate chips, raisins or nuts to the mixture, it’s all about what you want.For anyone who’s unfamiliar with crème anglaise, the first thing you need to know is that it literally translates to ‘English cream’ from French. It’s similar to custard, but less thinner and it isn’t a sickly yellow colour like the packet variety tends to be. It also has a much more delicate and rich flavour than the yucky storebought stuff. I stole the recipe for the crème anglaise from Seasons and Suppers because she’s got the right idea. And she’s Canadian. That’s a definite guarantee that she can be trusted and that this will change your life.



Cinnamon Vanilla Bread Pudding with Crème Anglais

Ingredients

For the bread pudding: 

4 cups challah bread, or any other bread of your choosing, cut into 1 inch cubes

3 eggs

½ cup castor sugar

¾ cup milk

2 tsp cinnamon

2 tsp vanilla essence

a pinch of salt

½ cup sliced almonds (optional)

For the crème anglaise: 

½ cup fresh cream

½ cup full cream milk

½ tsp vanilla essence

3 tbsp sugar

3 egg yolks

Make the bread pudding:

  1. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and salt. Stir until the egg yolks are fully incorporated. Then add the bread cubes and stir with a wooden spoon, making sure to coat each bread piece fully. If you like, you could add in raisins, chocolate chips or nuts at this stage. Once each piece is coated, let soak for about 20 minutes before baking. This step is optional, you can bake the bread pudding straight after combining, but soaking the bread will give a more intense flavour.  Meanwhile, start on the crème anglaise.

Make the crème anglaise:

  1. Preheat your oven to 180°C.
  2. Add the milk, cream and vanilla essence to a medium sauce pan and heat over medium heat until it comes to a low boil, then take the saucepan off the heat. Make sure it doesn’t come to full boil because if it’s too hot, then you will cook the eggs and end up with scrambled eggs instead of crème anglaise.
  3. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the sugar and egg yolks until combined. Bit by bit, whisk small amounts of the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture until you’ve added about half the milk mixture. Then, pour the egg mixture from the bowl into saucepan and whisk over low heat until slightly thickened and the sauce just coats the back of your wooden spoon. When thickened, transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Make sure that the plastic wrap is right on the surface of the crème anglaise so that it doesn’t form a skin. Chill whilst you bake the bread pudding.
  4. Grease a medium deep dish baking pan with BUTTER, not any of that non-stick spray. We’re not here to help you cut calories. Then sprinkle the bottom of your greased pan with about 2 tbsp of brown sugar. This step isn’t necessary but whilst baking, the sugar caramelises at the bottom, giving your bread pudding a crispy bottom.
  5. Carefully layer the soaked bread cubes in the greased baking pan, and pour any leftover egg mixture over the top. This will bake into a lovely custard in the oven and the dish just becomes that much more rich. At this stage, you can sprinkle chopped almonds, chocolate chips or even sugar over the bread pudding mixture. Bake in the preheated oven for 30-40 minutes, or when you pull the bread apart with a fork, no liquid seeps out.
  6. Serve warm or cold with crème anglaise, melted ice cream or dusted with icing sugar.


 

Chocolate and Vanilla Cantuccini (Variation of Biscotti) with Hot Chocolate

Fun fact: Italian food is my favourite kind of food.

We’re still getting to know each other here and I just felt like you should know that. I love the fact that there are 101 things to do with pasta, there is always a gelato to compensate your mood and the coffee is black enough to match the colour of my soul. Beautiful.

 Another fun fact- biscotti means twice baked. And that’s exactly what we are going to do to these babies. I felt a bit reluctant to call these biscotti though, because biscotti just refers to any ordinary biscuit. And this is no ordinary biscuit. Cantuccini is a more appropriate name, because of the shape of these biscuits, perfect for dunking in your wine/hot chocolate.

This biscuit is fearless, it can take anything you throw at it. Chocolate chips, almonds, dried cranberries, you name it. You can virtually do anything you like with this recipe as long as the core ingredients remain the same.

Biscotti on biscotti on biscotti
Jenga with biscotti

The reason why I decided to bake these is that I was missing those cold winter afternoons I spent in Tignes, drinking hot chocolate and laughing my head off. Then I decided, I could recreate the biscotti and the hot chocolate…. but the one thing you can’t recreate is the moment. Not only am I sweltering in this 34 °C Zimbabwean heat, nothing beats having the same company around.

Luckily for us, that hole can be filled by eating more biscotti.

 


Cantuccini is traditionally served with Vin Santo, a sweet dessert wine. But seeing as I’m still underage and grossly deficient in funds, we’ll just have to contend with this wicked hot chocolate. Yes, it may be 34 degrees outside, but I am forever freezing and so will continue to sip my hot chocolate whilst pretending not to see you judge me.

The recipes for the chocolate and vanilla cantuccini are essentially the same, difference being that one has cocoa powder and the other has vanilla essence. This recipe is easily manipulated, you can leave out the chocolate chips, substitute the almonds for hazelnuts or chopped pine nuts, it is really all about catering to your taste! Please note below that there are 2 recipes, but only one method because it is essentially the same. I’ll be sure to post a lot more variations of this recipe just to give y’all some ideas 🙂

To make this mini chocolate fondue, all you have to do is melt 50g of chocolate and about a tbsp of milk together, add 2 tbsps of Nutella and mix to combine.

Chocolate Cantucci                                                                           makes about 15

Ingredients 

1 cup self raising flour

¼ cup cocoa powder

½ cup castor sugar

1 tsp salt

½ cup chopped almonds

2 eggs

Handful of chocolate chips

Vanilla Cantuccini                                                                            makes about 15

Ingredients 

1 cup self raising flour

½ cup castor sugar

1 tsp salt

½ cup chopped/flaked almonds

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla essence

Handful of chocolate chips (optional)

Method

  1. Start by taking out two bowls of medium size, one for the chocolate and one for the vanilla cantuccini
  2. Sift the flour, castor sugar, salt and cocoa powder (for chocolate cantuccini) into a bowl and mix until combined. Add the almonds
  3. Make a well in the centre and crack the eggs into the centre and add the vanilla essence (for the vanilla cantuccini) Stir until incorporated and it forms a wet dough
  4. Shape the separate doughs each into a loaf, thats about 8 inches long, 9 inches wide and 2 inches high. Place in a greased baking dish and bake in an oven at 180ºC for 20 minutes or until the dough is firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and stand on a counter for 20 minutes until cooled. Using a serrated bread knife, slice the loaf diagonally into cantuccini pieces, each about half an inch thick. Return the cantuccini pieces to the baking dish and bake a further 15 minutes.
  5. Cool and serve with hot chocolate. Store in a cool, dry place, these will keep for a couple of months.

Cinnamon Hot Chocolate 

Ingredients

50g of your favourite milk chocolate, chopped into small pieces

2 and ½ cups whole milk, and another 2 tbsp of milk

1 tsp ground cinnamon

2 tsp brown sugar

Method

  1. Fill a sauce pan about ¾ of the way to the top with boiling water and put it on the stove on low heat. Place a medium sized bowl over the lid of the sauce pan and add the chocolate and 2 tbsp of milk. Once the chocolate is mostly molten, but not completely molten, remove the bowl from heat. In another saucepan, boil the 2 and ½ cups of milk.

2. Stir the chocolate and milk together until combined. You will have a really thick chocolate paste. When the milk is on the verge of boiling, scoop the paste into the milk and continue to mix until all the paste has dissolved. Add the cinnamon and sugar and bring the hot chocolate to a boil. Pour into cups and serve.