Banana Crepe Cake with Yogurt and Caramel Sauce

Not in a diet mood right now. This recipe will convince you of that. We have so much chèvre and yogurt, and this splendid cake comes along to show us how to use it to great caloric advantage! I swear it is something out of an Austro-Hungarian Kaffeehaus! Must. Make. Immediately. Thanks, Deb!

Banana Crepe Cake with Yogurt and Walnut Butterscotch

A whole bunch of cooking notes and tips: First, crepes are magical. Once you accept that the first one always goes in the trash, that things are really much easier with a non-stick pan, and if you struggle with crepe-flipping, try to embrace Deb’s weirdo two-spatula crepe-flipping technique, described below, you will hit your stride and wonder why you don’t make crepes more often. And you should, they keep fantastically well in the fridge, for a few days, even. They reheat well. They never stick to each other so you can just stack them up, no fancy separators required.

A note about banana flavor: The crepes taste the most strongly of banana when served simply. As other ingredients are added, like this filling, the banana flavor is less loud (but the overall flavor tumbles dreamily together). If you’d like it to scream banana, you might add paper-thin slices of banana throughout the crepe layers — it will also stack the cake higher.

This is perfect for a decadent brunch meal or party. Think of it as a replacement for french toast, coffee cake or buttery pastries. And although it sounds completely over-the-top, do make a great effort to keep it at least a little breakfasty: the crepes are barely sweetened, the filling remains tangy and only moderately sweet and the butterscotch is as small of a yield as needed to just cover the top.

If you’d like to pass the walnut butterscotch alongside cake servings, rather than drizzling it over the top of the cake, you should double the yield, and keep it warm so it stays pourable. If it still seems too thick, a little extra cream will thin it.

Yield: 11 to 12 9-inch crepes, or a 1 1/2-inch cake

Banana crepes
4 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled slightly, plus extra for greasing pan
1 large (6 ounce) speckly ripe banana (should yield a scant 1/2 cup pureed)
1 cup milk
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves

Cream cheese (or chèvre)- yogurt filling
8 ounces cream cheese, well-softened, or half chèvre and half cream cheese (less fattening!)
1 1/2 cup plain Greek-style or goat yogurt
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Walnut butterscotch topping
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon flaky sea salt, or to taste

Make the crepe batter: Blend banana in a food processor until totally smooth. Add melted butter, blend again. Add remaining ingredients and blend until they are combined. Transfer batter, which will look pretty thin, to a bowl (even easier later if it has a spout), cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least an hour, preferably overnight, and up to two days. When you remove the batter, it will seem surprisingly thick. Stir it to redistribute the ingredients before using it.

Cook the crepes: Heat a medium skillet or crepe pan over medium-high heat. Once heated, brush pan thinly with melted butter. Pour 1/4 cup batter into skillet, swirling it until it evenly coats the bottom and cook, undisturbed, until the bottom is golden and the top is set, about 2 to 3 minutes. Flip* the crepe and cook it for 30 seconds on the other side, before transferring it to a plate to cool. Repeat with remaining batter. You can stack your crepes and they should not stick together. Let crepes cool completely.

* Here’s Deb’s Weirdo Two-Spatula Crepe Flipping Method: Use two spatulas handy, one flexible fish-style spatula and one smaller, like an offset icing spatula. Slide the larger one just a little bit under the crepe and lift it enough that you can slide the smaller one under. Lift it enough that you can get the larger one far underneath the crepe, then use the larger one alone to flip it.

Make filling: Whip cream cheese (plus chèvre, if using) until fluffy, then beat in yogurt, 1/2 cup at a time. When fully combined, add sugar and vanilla then beat until rich and fluffy, just another minute.

Assemble crepe cake: Lay first crepe on a cake plate or serving platter. Spread with 1/4 cup of the yogurt-cream cheese filling. Repeat with all but the last remaining crepe, which should be stacked but have no filling on top, as it is the lid.

Make walnut butterscotch sauce: Combine the cream, brown sugar and butter in the bottom of a medium, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally in the beginning and more frequently as it reduces and thickens. You’ll know it’s done when it becomes thick and smells toasty. Stir in the vanilla and salt, then walnuts. Immediately pour over stack of filled crepes, nudging the butterscotch to the edges with your spoon — if it goes over the edge, so be it.

Serve immediately, or keep in fridge until ready to serve. Crepe cake keeps for up to 3 days, possibly longer, but good luck with that.

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Dulce de Leche Goat Cheese Cookies

The Latin American afajores cookie is the inspiration for this recipe. Adding goat cheese to the dulce de leche puts a fun twist on a classic and offers something savory to an otherwise very sweet cookie. To ensure that the base was not too delicate for the goat cheese and caramelized-milk filling,  Dorie Greenspan’s sturdy sable cookie recipe was used, as well as dulce de leche from the Latin American aisle of the supermarket. Goat cheese is perishable, so keep the filling cold and only sandwich cookies that will be consumed within a day.

Goat Cheese 
Alfajores

Enlarge Kirstin Jackson for NPR

Makes about 2 dozen sandwich cookies

2 sticks salted butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted

2 large egg yolks, at room temperature

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup pecans, finely chopped

7 ounces (from a 14-ounce can) dulce de leche

3 to 5 ounces fresh goat cheese (chevre)

Powdered sugar for dusting

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk the butter and sugars together until light and creamy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the yolks one at a time and whisk well. Fold the flour into the bowl with a rubber spatula, mixing until the dough is all the same texture. It will be moist and clump together, but will not be as smooth as chocolate-chip cookie dough. It will be a little crumbly. Lightly stir in the pecans.

Divide the dough into 2 balls. One at a time, place each ball on a sheet of plastic wrap. Use the wrap to roll the dough balls into 8-inch logs. Twist the ends of the plastic wrap tight and refrigerate the dough from 2 hours to overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Take the dough out of the refrigerator and unwrap. Starting from the center and working out, score (or mark) the log beforehand to identify where to cut the 24 cookie pieces. Mark the center first, then in quarters, then 6 on each quarter. Then, slice the log into 24 pieces.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicon mats and space the cookies so they are an inch apart. Rotating the sheets after 10 minutes, bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool.

While the cookies are cooling, warm the dulce de leche over low heat in a small saucepan, stirring and being careful not to let the caramel bubble. When just warm, take off heat. Add from 3 to 5 ounces goat cheese to your taste, and stir until well mixed. Cool.

Sandwich about a teaspoon of the dulce de leche mixture between 2 cookies and continue with the rest of the cookies until finished. Dust with powdered sugar.

Thank you to Kirsten Jackson of NPR for the recipe:)

Almond and Tangerine Tart

Doesn't this look like a smile in the mouth?

We got six inches of new snow last night, with more on the way. So the only way to sweeten the prospect of a late winter snow is to bake a pan of caramel-chewy nutty shortbready tart!  Thank you to Food 52 for the rescue from bleakness.

This recipe packs a lot of flavor but is not overly sweet. The texture of the tart is reminiscent of a cookie and the filling is a honey caramel delight. And since I STILL do not have any fresh chevre (we’re making the first batch tonight), this is a cheese-less recipe.

Serves 12
  • 2 tangerines
  • 1 3/4 cup All Purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 12 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, diced
  • 1/2 cup superfine sugar
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup orange blossom honey
  • 1 cup extra heavy whipping cream
  • 3 cups toasted sliced almonds

  • Zest 2 tangerines and ream to extract juice. Chill the juice.
  • Line the bottom of a 10-inch tart pan with a removable base with buttered parchment paper.
  • Pulse the flour, confectioners’ sugar, salt, butter and tangerine zest in a food processor. Add tangerine juice by tablespoon(s) as needed until it looks like wet sand. Pulse just until it starts to form a ball.
  • Pat the dough into the tart pan, being careful to press up and into the sides.
  • Chill the crust for one hour (can chill up to 4 hours).
  • Heat the oven to 375 degrees.
  • In a heavy bottomed saucepan, mix together the superfine sugar, brown sugar, honey and 2 teaspoons of the reserved tangerine juice. Allow the sugars and honey to melt together over medium-low heat, swirling gently. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, until the mixture darkens and caramelizes. (Tip: You can use leftover tangerine juice mixed with some warm water to brush down the insides of the pan while you are waiting for the mixture to caramelize).
  • Add the cream and increase the heat to medium. Cook the mixture at a low boil for 8 to 10 minutes, until it is richly caramelized and thick.
  • Stir in the almonds and spread the mixture into the chilled tart pan.
  • Bake for 30 minutes and then lower the temperature to 350 bake for another 15 minutes, or until the crust is richly browned.
  • Cool completely, remove the bottom from the pan and using a long-bladed spatula, transfer the tart to a cake stand.
  • Optional: Serve with sweetened whipped cream (1 cup heavy whipped cream, 2 tablespoons vanilla, 1/4 cup superfine sugar) and a mint garnish.