Sweet Sixteen

Birthdays slowly lose their appeal over the years, stacking up one after another whether you’re ready or not. What was once exciting becomes blasé. Been there, done that, ate the cake and lived to tell the tale. Rinse and repeat.

There are certain milestones that are genuinely worth getting fired up over. Especially for a youngster on the cusp of adulthood, a Sweet Sixteen is a huge event, above and beyond the average birthday. It symbolizes coming of age, transitioning into the next chapter of life, and maybe even graduating from the kids’ table.

My dearest BitterSweet blog, you are now a mature, fully ripened fruit. How on earth this happened is beyond me. Despite some bad parenting in the beginning, you managed to not only survive the abuse, but thrive in spite of it. Together we’ve grown in ways unthinkable at the start. Now I can’t imagine life without you, nor would I want to.

Happy Sweet Sixteen, BitterSweet! To commemorate this momentous occasion, I had to pull out all the stops for an unforgettable cake worthy of such an event. After hemming and hawing for month, inspiration struck: nothing short of a sixteen-layered crepe cake would do.

How I could have gone sixteen years without featuring a single recipe using ube is beyond me. Let’s make up for lost time and dive right in, shall we? This purple yam is a staple in the Philippines, where it’s often the key ingredient in ice cream, cakes, cookies, waffles, lattes, jams, puddings, and beyond. Though its main claim to fame is that otherworldly hue, the flavor is what keeps people coming back for more. Subtle and delicate with a natural sweetness, the flavor is nutty like toasted pistachio with a hint of vanilla bean.

Granted, I took a short cut here and used ube extract and powder rather than the genuine article. It’s much easier to blend in concentrated flavor and color than start from a whole, fresh tuber, even if it’s not authentic. Just a few drops makes a big splash, and as my crepes started piling up, I worried that I might have gone overboard.

Vibrant in a way that they looked Photoshopped in real life, those thin French pancakes have never been so bold before. Served alone to wrap up whipped cream or fruit, they would already be an unforgettable treat, but when transformed into a tall stack with fluffy layers of buttercream in between, the results are awesome, in the truest sense of the word.

Mille Crepe literally means “a thousand crepes,” so by that metric my grand gateau falls short. However, I think that sixteen is more than enough for now. Who knows: Maybe someday, little old BitterSweet will old enough to celebrate a millennia. Until then… Stay sweet!

Yield: Makes 10 - 12 Servings

Ube Crepe Cake

Ube Crepe Cake

Vibrant purple crepes, colored and flavored with brilliant ube extract, stack up tall in this sixteen-layered crepe cake. Sandwiching fluffy vegan butter cream between each thin pancake, it makes for one incredible grand finale.

Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes

Ingredients

Ube Crepes:

  • 1 Cup All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 Cup Chickpea Flour
  • 1/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
  • 2 Cups Plain Non-Dairy Milk
  • 1/2 Cup Aquafaba
  • 1/4 Cup Olive Oil
  • 2 - 4 Tablespoons Water
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoons Ube Extract
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Ube Buttercream Frosting:

  • 1/2 Cup Vegan Butter
  • 1 1/2 Cups Confectioner's Sugar
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 Teaspoons Ube Extract
  • 1 - 2 Tablespoons Aquafaba

To Garnish:

  • Ube Powder, as Needed (Optional)

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together both flours, sugar, and salt just to distribute the dry ingredients evenly. Add in the non-dairy milk, aquafaba, and olive oil, and whisk thoroughly to combine. You don't want leave any lumps, but don't go crazy and overdo it either. Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes, after which you may notice it will thicken slightly.
  2. Slowly add in the water, a tablespoon at a time, to thin it back out to about the viscosity of melted ice cream. Finally, add the ube and vanilla extract, whisking vigorously to incorporate.
  3. Place a nonstick skillet over medium heat, and grease very, very lightly. If you're using a spray, use a paper towel to wipe away any excess. Once the pan becomes hot enough, pour in 1/4 cup of the batter. The traditional method of shaping the crepes is to swirl the pan around so that the batter drips into shape, but this never gave me satisfactory results- no matter how quickly I worked, the crepes were always terribly misshapen. After a lot of trial and error, I found that using the bottom of the 1/4 cup measuring cup to push the batter in a circle was much more effective, but if you use this technique, make sure that the cup is not plastic, as it could melt! Either way you choose to go about it, speed is key, because these cook very quickly.
  4. Let the crepe cook for approximately 1 - 2 minutes on each side. You will know that the first side is done cooking because the top will start to look a bit dry. Use your spatula to go around the edges and loosen the crepe first before flipping, to make sure all of it flips at once.
  5. Do not re-grease the pan between crepes, as the nonstick surface should continue to do it's job just fine. The pan will continue to get hotter as you cook, so if you notice the crepes browning too quickly, be sure to turn down the heat just a step. Stack finished crepes on a plate, separated by sheets of parchment paper. Let cool completely.
  6. To make the buttercream, place the vegan butter in the bowl of your stand mixer with the paddle attachment installed. Beat on low speed until smooth and creamy.
  7. Add the confectioner's sugar and mix for 1 - 2 minutes, until completely incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with your spatula as needed.
  8. Pour in both extracts and aquafaba last, and mix on medium speed until smooth, and then increase to high. Whip for 6 - 8 minutes, until light and fluffy.
  9. To assemble the cake, start by placing one crepe on a flat plate. Top with 3 tablespoons of frosting and spread it in a very thin, even layer. Place the next crepe on top, pressing down gentle to smooth and level the cake. Repeat until all the crepes have been used.
  10. Finish by lightly dusting with ube powder, if desired. For the cleanest slices, chill for 1 - 2 hours, but the cake can be enjoyed right away.

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

12

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 266Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 24mgSodium: 130mgCarbohydrates: 32gFiber: 1gSugar: 21gProtein: 4g

All nutritional information presented within this site are intended for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and any nutritional information on BitterSweetBlog.com should only be used as a general guideline. This information is provided as a courtesy and there is no guarantee that the information will be completely accurate. Even though I try to provide accurate nutritional information to the best of my ability, these figures should still be considered estimations.

10 thoughts on “Sweet Sixteen

  1. P.S, Does the ube extract have some flavour, besides the color? I think they have ube extract in the Philippine food market here.

    1. Oh yes, indeed! It tastes a lot like a regular orange sweet potato, but lighter and more floral, with nutty undertones. Definitely worth seeking out!

  2. Congratulations, Hannah! The longevity of Bittersweet is a beautiful testament to your dedication to the vegan way of life. It has been and will continue to be such a pleasure to work with you and to have you as a friend!

  3. Wow 16 years! What an achievement, congratulations. BTW that crepe cake looks amazing, definitely close to my heart, ube flavour is so Filipino 😁

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