Nutella. Sweet, sweet Nutella. If you are vegan, you can’t eat it. It contains milk (along with palm oil and too much sugar). Is it vegan discrimination? Maybe, maybe not. I’m not ready to call the ACLU, but… Anyway, it doesn’t really matter. We vegans can still heed those occasional cravings for something creamy and chocolate-hazelnutty without involving dairy cows. Make your own! Toast whole hazelnuts, melt some vegan, grain-sweetened chocolate, throw in a little soy milk and those cravings are satisfied! When you make it yourself, you control the ingredients. No added oil and not an outrageous amount of sugar. This concoction is a little thicker and crunchier than the name brand (and it also has dark chocolate, not that wimpy milk chocolate stuff), and the distinctive flavor of the hazelnuts really comes through. Use exactly as you would the store-bought stuff.
Crepes with Bananas and Homemade Chocolate-Hazelnut Spread
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup chickpea flour
2 tbsp. canola oil
2 cups water
1 cup vegan semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups hazelnuts, toasted*
6 tbsp. soy milk, divided
Chopped pecans or walnuts
Make the crepes:
Whisk together the flours and salt in a medium-sized bowl. Make a well in the center and add the water and canola oil. Whisk until smooth and then cover with plastic wrap and let chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
Preheat a ~8″ crepe (or non-stick) pan and very lightly spray it with cooking oil. You’ll only need to do that once – with the first crepe. Pour 1/4 cup batter into the pan and swirl it around so that you get an even coating. The crepe will go from shiny to matte and form small bubbles in the middle. It’s ready to flip. Using a flexible spatula, gently turn the crepe over to cook on the other side. After a minute or two, remove the crepe and place on a plate or wire rack. I put a piece of wax paper between each crepe to prevent sticking.
Keep making crepes until the batter is done. You’ll end up with about 12 total. You can either keep them warm, if using soon after making them, or wrap well and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Make the Chocolate-Hazelnut Spread:
In a food processor, process the hazelnuts until finely ground. With the processor running, pour in 3 tbsp. of the soy milk. This will form a thick paste, like peanut butter.
Meanwhile, in the microwave or double-boiler, melt the chocolate chips along with the remaining 3 tbsp. of soy milk. Pour the melted chocolate mixture into the food processor with the ground hazelnuts and process until smooth. Little bits of hazelnut will remain. You can keep processing if you like, but I don’t mind a little crunch.
Set aside until ready to assemble the crepes.
Assemble the crepes:
Slice a banana or two (one banana will do to fill four crepes) and have some chopped walnuts or pecans handy – toasted makes them extra tasty. If you’ve retrieved the crepes from the refrigerator, gently warm them in the microwave. It also helps to zap the chocolate-hazelnut spread a little bit, too. Using two crepes per person, slather on a tablespoon or two per crepe, dot with banana slices and fold crepe in half. Sprinkle with toasted nuts.
I enjoyed (I very much enjoyed) my crepes with a cup of freshly-pressed Choffy. Life is good, but dessert makes it a whole lot better.
Store leftover spread in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.
(To toast hazelnuts, spread them out on a baking sheet and bake in 275F oven for about 10-15 minutes, turning occasionally. When you start to smell them, they’re ready to come out. I don’t go crazy getting the” paper” off of them, but I do roll the nuts in a clean kitchen towel to get off some of it. The crepe recipe comes from Vegan With a Vengeance, by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, with some slight changes – I used white whole wheat flour instead of all AP flour. The spread recipe sprang whole cloth from my brain, though probably an internet search would yield many, many versions of the same idea.)