Guys, these gluten-free arepas with plantain are a dream come true! Try to think of a flatbread with a touch of sweetness from the plantain, which is filled with mozzarella. I tell you, of all the arepas I have eaten, this is by far my favorite. Since I am married to a Colombian, I have had my share of arepas. Just as bread is extremely important in German culture, arepas are a staple in Colombia. Of course I posted the basic arepa recipe, some from the region Boyaca, which are slightly sweet, and arepas with cheese filling, which have become popular after the movie Encanto. In Venezuela arepas are commonly filled and stuffed, I introdcued arepas with chicken filling and today, finally, let me introduce arepas made with mashed plantains.
Today I am introducing the small cheese puffs called pão de queijo from Brazil. Cheese puffs are extremely popular in Latin America, every country has its version and style. Almost all have in common that they are not prepared with wheat flour, but instead tapioca (also known as cassava or manioc) starch is used. On top, it is the starch and not the flour what you are looking for. Naturally, they are all gluten-free. I already introduced the ones from Colombia called pandebonos and also the Paraguayan ones called chipa.
Warning, these classic empanadas from Colombia are a labor of love. If you are going to make everything from scratch like I did, you will need a few hours. However, one of the good things about empanadas is that you can prepare a lot in advance. You may wish to make the filling and/or the dough one to two days prior and then “only” need to fill and fry the empanadas the following day. But before we get into the details, what are empanadas exactly? Empanadas are dumplings, each Latin American country has its own variation, heck, every region and city will be proud of their particular empanadas. Since I was born in Uruguay, I am used to empanadas made with wheat flour. The traditional filling in Uruguay is beef (duh) and they are usually baked in the oven. Yes, of course I have a recipe for Uruguayan empanadas on my blog. Colombian empanadas on the other hand are made with cornmeal, if using the right one, they will be gluten-free. Most of the time they are not baked in the oven, but deep-fried. The filling varies, some use a piece of meat that is later pulled apart, I simply decided to use already minced meat. One particularity of Colombia is the “guiso” or “hogao”, this is a thick sauce made of tomatoes, spring onions, onions and herbs that are typically mixed with the meat filling. This makes them Colombian.
Updated recipe in 2022 with clearer instructions and more options
I love meringue. I got to love meringue at a very late stage. Maybe because I feel meringue doesn’t play a very important role in the baking industry. But even though it was late love, merengón from Colombia is the best. It consists of three layers, meringue, whipped cream and a layer of fruit sauce. Easy to prepare, wonderful to look at and once you take the first bite, you will be in heaven, melts in your mouth and has a nice tangy aftertaste due to the fruits. Really a fairy dream!
Pandebonos are the Colombian answer to the Brazilian pao de queijo, these little cheese puffs do not require any flour and are thus gluten-free. I already published one recipe on the blog, which requires mozzarella and feta to replace the Colombian cheese queso campesino. This variation uses farmer’s cheese and a quince paste. Normally Colombians make the paste from guava instead, this guava paste is called bocadillo.
Today we have a Mexican cake from the north called “mostachón de fresas.” Its base is a nut-based meringue (including crackers) a cream-cheese topping and of course strawberries. I learned that you can basically decorate with any kind of fruit. In Mexico mangos are pretty popular, but I figured since we have strawberry season and strawberries are also popular for this cake, I would stick to the traditional version. It may sound like a strange combination, especially the salty crackers, but my husband and me loved it.
Today I am introducing vegan tiramisu with homemade ladyfingers. To me it almost tastes as good as the original. Since I am using vegan cream cheese (almond based) and vegan whipping cream (coconut-oil based), this vegan tiramisu is free of soy, cashew, or tofu. I find it extra delicious and perfect for any special occasion such as a birthday.
Chocolate chip cookies with a nice nutty flavor, coming from tahini, that’s what you will get today! I am excited to present the third vegan recipe in January. If you would like to know why I am doing a vegan January, please check out my previous post. In my opinion, chocolate chip cookies are the best thing in the world, they are souldfood, a simple dessert, easy to prepare, they make children happy as well as adults. Regardless if filled with caramel, plain, with brown butter, I have quite a few recipes on my blog, even including a chocolate chip cookie cake, that’s how much I love this flavor. I have been wanting to try chocolate chip cookies with tahini for a while now and finally managed to give it a try. I love the vegan version, even my husband gobbled up the cookies happily and gave his stamp of approval. These vegan cookies contain tahini, the sesame paste as a replacement for the egg. You can also check out my vegan chocolate chip cookie with pumpkin.
Today I am introducing the second vegan recipe in January. I personally am a huge breakfast person. For that reason I am offering homemade and also vegan cinnamon toast crunch for you. Yes, they do contain less sugar than the original (I decided to go with maple syrup for the dough) and they are vegan as I opted for coconut oil instead of butter. When I took pictures of this cinnamon toast crunch, I was reminiscing my childhood. I believe everybody has a favorite cereal from old times. I was all into the ones with nougat or nutella (not so sure there are such varieties in the U.S.) and I also loved anything with cinnamon like cinnamon toast crunch. I remember eating them without any milk, simply snacking whenever I felt hungry. If you keep them in an airtight container, they will stay crunchy for a long time.
Did you have a wonderful New Year’s Eve? Did you make any New Year’s resolutions? I am somebody who usually doesn’t start with many ambitious resolutions. In my opinion it does not take long for those ambitious dreams to crash, the very latest in February. They don’t last very long. However, this year I decided to eat a bit healthier during January. Especially after the very decadent December it feels good. For that reason the recipes of January 2022 are going to be healthier. I am saying “healthier” as “healthy” is too strong of a word and also depends on what you consider this to be. I am going to post only vegan recipes in January. They are still going to be sweet and some people consider sugar to be bad. It has gotten a pretty bad reputation. I will start with the German mole cake as pictured.