Vegan Chef Terry Hope Romero's Crepes with Un-Dulce De Leche and Sweet Plantains

Serves 4, two crepes each
Time: About 45 minutes, not including making the sauce

CREPES WITH UN-DULCE DE LECHE AND SWEET PLANTAINSCREPES WITH UN-DULCE DE LECHE AND SWEET PLANTAINSNothing says "Hey, I freakin' love you!" like serving your friends, familia or future special someone (no pressure!) some gorgeous Latin dessert crepes with sautéed sweet plantains and drizzled with buttery Un-Dulce de Leche sauce (see recipe here). Escalate the richness with a scoop of vanilla ice cream (especially a fantastic coconut-based nondairy ice cream).

Make-ahead Tips: There are several components to this recipe, so don't mess around, especially if you plan on serving these crepes for dessert after a more elaborate meal. Make the crepes up to three days ahead: stack them on a dinner plate, cover with plastic wrap, and chill. Reheat briefly on a preheated oiled griddle, for about 1 minute or until hot, flipping once. You can also make the dulce sauce up to a week in advance; just keep chilled and heat on the stovetop or in a microwave for 40 to 50 seconds, stirring occasionally, until warm. You could even fry the plantains that day, chill, and either microwave or briefly heat on the stovetop.

Crepe-making Tip: A few items that will make your crepe-making experience all the easier: a silicone basting brush (which can withstand contact with a hot pan), nonstick cooking spray, a crumpled paper towel for wiping the crepe pan or skillet, and a long, thin spatula (like the kind used to frost cakes) for turning the crepes.

Crepes
1 1⁄2 cups soy or almond milk
1⁄3 cup cold water
3⁄4 cup all-purpose or whole wheat pastry flour
1⁄3 cup chickpea (garbanzo) flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
Nonstick cooking spray and/or softened non-hydrogenated vegan margarine.

Brown-Sugared Sweet Plantains

4 very ripe plantains (most black with dark yellow-streaked skin, should feel soft when gently squeezed) 4 tablespoons non-hydrogenated vegan margarine
4 tablespoons brown sugar
4 teaspoons lime juice
4 tablespoons dark or spiced rum
Nonstick cooking spray

For Assembly

1 recipe Un-Dulce de Leche (see recipe here) gently warmed on the stove or microwave

1. For the crepes: In a blender jar, combine the soy milk, water, flour, chickpea flour, sugar, and salt. Pulse until you have a smooth, thin batter. Pour into a container, cover, and chill for at least an hour or overnight. When ready to cook, stir the batter briefly if the ingredients have separated. Heat a 10- to 12-inch crepe pan or skillet over medium-high heat; the skillet is ready when a few drops of water flicked onto the pan sizzle. Spray with nonstick cooking spray. For additional buttery flavor, dab a silicone brush into softened nonhydrogenated margarine and brush along the bottom and sides of pan, but you can skip this if you use plenty of nonstick spray for each crepe.

2. Ladle 1/3 to 1/2 cup (use the larger quantity for a bigger pan) of batter into the center of the pan. As the batter starts to sizzle, immediately begin to tilt the pan (use your wrist) in a circular motion to spread a thin layer of batter to the edges of the pan. Continue to tilt the pan as the batter spreads and then sets. If you're new to crepes, you'll find you get better the more you make them; often your first crepe isn't nearly as nice as the last one in the batch.

3. Cook the crepe is until the top looks dry and the edges appear firm, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Gently run the spatula (a long, thin one works ideally here) under the crepe to loosen it, carefully flip the crepe, and cook it on the other side for 30 seconds. Slide the crepe onto a dinner plate. Spray more oil or brush more margarine onto the crepe pan before starting the next crepe; if the crepes start to stick, give the pan another hit of nonstick cooking spray. If bits of batter collect on the pan or the pan seems too oily, quickly swirl the crumpled paper towel across the surface of the pan to remove the crumbs. Cook the rest of the crepes, stacking them one on top of another. If not serving immediately, cover the entire batch with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator.

4. For the fried sweet plantains: Preheat a cast-iron or nonstick skillet over medium heat. On a cutting board, use a very sharp paring knife to slice both ends off a plantain and run a shallow cut-only deep enough to slice the skin but not the flesh-from one end of the plantain to the other. Peel off the skin and slice on a bias into 1/2-inch-thick slices.

5. Spray the preheated pan with nonstick cooking spray and melt a tablespoon of margarine on its surface. Slide one-third of the plantain slices into the pan and fry for 4 to 6 minutes, flipping a few times until the plantains are soft and turning golden. Sprinkle with one third of the brown sugar, lime juice, and rum and sauté for another 2 to 4 minutes to gently caramelize the surface of the plantains. Remove from the pan and repeat with the remaining plantains. If the surface of your pan gets too sticky, wipe with a paper towel before frying more plantains. Cover the cooked plantains with foil, or warm them in the oven or microwave (remove foil first if microwaving) if they start to get too cold.

6. To assemble: Lay a crepe on a serving plate, drizzle half of the crepe (a semicircle) with some Un-Dulce de Leche, and layer that part with three or more slices of plantain. Fold the crepe in half, drizzle half that surface with more sauce, add three or more slices of plantain, and fold again so that now you have a curvy triangle. Top with another plantain slice and more dulce. Repeat on the same plate if you're serving two at a time.

Variation Crepes à la Mode: Top a crepe with a scoop of favorite vegan vanilla ice cream and, you guessed it, drizzle with more dulce sauce!

Courtesy Viva Vegan! by Terry Hope Romero. Reprinted courtesy of Da Capo Lifelong Books.
Visit her at VeganLatina.com