I understand there’s a fine line between normal, healthy love and crazy, obsession-based love. My feelings toward pancakes tend towards the latter. It means I spend a lot of mornings thinking about pancakes, and a lot of time looking at pancakes in the interwebs, and a lot of time thinking “hey, this would be great in pancakes!” while trying to shop for groceries. So I think about pancakes a lot, and I make pancakes… A LOT. Since I spend a lot of time in the kitchen, however, I rarely make the same recipe twice, so am always looking for pancakes that break the mold, like showcasing an ingredient I never would have thought to put in a pancake.

I came across a recipe for spinach pancakes and, what can I say, it was all I could think about until I got the chance to make them. I could simultaneously pretend my pancakes were healthy because they included some super food AND giggle to myself constantly because I was eating green pancakes. I was so awed by these spinach pancakes I couldn’t figure out how else to express my feelings other than by composing a short poem and dedicating it to all the amazing pancakes out there, those I have tried and have yet to try. I hope you enjoy the fruit of my creative labor this morning. Ahem.

 Pancakes

 Oh pancakes,

I love you all;

Big, medium, or small.

When you’re on my plate,

All you do is wait

Until I’m ready to eat.

Some like you sweet,

And some prefer not,

But it’s always easy to eat a lot.

I’ll lather you with butter,

And you don’t even mutter,

Or I’ll eat you plain,

And still my love won’t wane.

Put your toppings outside or in,

And all you’ll do is grin,

Because pancakes are the best!

Spinach Pancakes

(Recipe found at nytimes.com)

Yields 14 five-inch pancakes

Notes: I decided to puree the spinach for a more uniform texture, but the original recipe calls for chopped spinach, folded into the batter at the end of the process. In terms of ingredients, I added a teaspoon of baking powder, to give the pancakes a little more lift, and an extra tablespoon of granulated sugar because I have an addiction to maintain. You can barely taste the spinach, so I served them with my normal pancake toppings- jam, almonds, butter, and syrup, but if you have a low tolerance for sweet and savory combinations, you can always sauté some mushrooms and serve it with eggs, or roasted squash or pumpkin.

Ingredients:

10 to 12 ounces fresh spinach, washed, or one 10 ounce package frozen chopped spinach

2 cups all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 to 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 ½ cups buttermilk, or milk mixed with 1 tablespoon vinegar, plus extra for thinning

2 eggs

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

Extra butter for greasing pan

Method:

1. Place washed spinach in a covered saucepan over medium heat, either with just the water that clung to the leaves or, if using pre-washed bagged spinach, with a splash of water. Heat spinach just until it wilts, only a couple of minutes. Drain spinach well and cool to room temperature. Once spinach is cooled, puree in a food processor until smooth.

2. Preheat skillet over medium-low heat.

3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and sugar.

4. In a medium mixing bowl or large liquid measuring cup, combine buttermilk, eggs, melted butter, and spinach puree. Whisk until foamy.

5. Add liquid ingredients to dry and whisk pancake batter until smooth and combined. If batter is super thick, add up to ½ cup milk until mixture reaches desired consistency.

6. Grease preheated skillet and drop batter into pan using a heaping 1/3 cup or large spoon. Cook pancakes for 2 to 4 minutes, until bottom is browned and lots of bubbles appear on the surface. Flip pancake and cook for another minute or two. If necessary, grease skillet between pancakes.

Serve warm, or heated in a 200 degree F oven for no more than 15 minutes. Pancakes will keep in the fridge up to 2 days, or in the freezer up to a month.

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I’m going to present a little anecdote this morning in order to put things into perspective. Imagine me and a few people out to dinner, laughing, talking, eating, the usual. Imagine a black and white (chocolate and vanilla) malt milkshake sitting on the table in front of me, a glass and a metal tumbler filled with extra milkshake, beautiful in its frosty, creamy deliciousness. If it weren’t for the restaurant chain, I’d name myself the dairy queen and if there’s malt powder in my house it’s almost guaranteed that it won’t last the week. About three quarters of the way through dinner one of my friends (a very, very dear friend) asked if they could sample my milkshake. Hah. I blushed because my milkshake had been long gone by the time she asked. It was pretty embarrassing but, hey, chocolate and malt. Chocolate and malt. One of the best flavor combinations of all time.

I may not be making milkshakes for breakfast today but I am combining chocolate and malt with another food that I love dearly: pancakes. I’ve made malted waffles with great success and wanted to see if I could do the same with pancakes, adding a little chocolate to the mix as an added bonus. I came across a recipe for pancakes using malt powder at King Arthur Flour and, while liking the flavor, was a little disappointed by how little the malt stood out. Though the malt in the original recipe, linked below, was only added to replicate the taste of the famed diner pancake and not to make a “malt pancake” and, wanting a “malt pancake”, I started adding malt, and more malt, and more malt, and then chocolate, until finding a balance that worked for me.

The pancakes are very good – rich with just a touch of chocolate and a hint of malt flavor –  but there’s still room for improvement. I plan on trying these again once I move, maybe with buttermilk and chocolate chips and probably with a lot more malted milk powder. For now, though, maybe try these and see what you think? I’d love ANY suggestions and, if you have a malt-chocolate combination pancake recipe that you think is awesome, let me know!

Chocolate Malt Pancakes

(Recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour)

Yields 10 to 12 pancakes

Ingredients:

2 eggs

1 ¼ cups milk

3 tablespoons melted butter (or unflavored oil, such as vegetable or canola)

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

¾ teaspoon salt

1 cup malt powder

¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Butter for greasing skillet

 

Method:

1. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, salt, malt powder, and cocoa powder to combine.

2. In a separate bowl or large liquid measuring cup, whisk eggs and milk for three minutes until foamy. You can do this by hand or with a mixer. Add melted butter and whisk again until combined.

3. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir gently to combine, taking care not to over mix.

4. Preheat griddle (or cast-iron skillet) over medium heat and let pancake batter sit for 15 minutes to allow it to thicken.

5. Once griddle is preheated and batter rests up, lightly grease skillet with butter. Scoop batter into pan by the ¼ cupful. When bubbles rise to the surface and bottom is lightly browned, about 2 minutes, and flip pancake and cook until other side is lightly browned. Serve pancakes immediately.

If you want to keep pancakes warm, preheat oven to 200 degrees F while preheating skillet and place pancakes on baking sheet, tented with foil, until ready to serve.

 

I spend a lot of time browsing recipes, either for the blog or for my own personal enjoyment, and sometimes feel like I’ve seen everything. As you’re well aware, it’s impossible to have seen everything in this complex, ever-changing world of ours, but sometimes you can’t help but follow that line of thought. It sounds odd but I’m pretty thankful for these existential ruts because they motivate me to rethink the way I do things. It’s not that everything in the world is the same, it’s that I’m seeing it that way and believing it, and have to find another method to my madness.

It’s almost that time of the week again, and I’m going through heaps of breakfast recipes, in books, on the internet, in magazaines, in my head, etc. All of a sudden I find myself stuck in the philosophical mud described above and have to get out. Instead of looking at recipes, I start looking at photographs and having a bit of fun, ooh-ing and ahh-ing, trying not to drool and marveling over the sheer talent of the photographers (who are not professionals but have an amazing sense of styling and lighting and all the parts that make one a great food photographer). I’m thankful to have access to all these pictures and even more grateful to have the recipes for most of the images just a click away. In the middle of my photo-surfing, I see it. There. A light and fluffy slice of soufflé-ed perfection dotted with berries and sprinkled with powdered sugar. I click to the recipe. It’s a soufflé pancake. Excuse me? A SOUFFLE PANCAKE.  How I have I never heard of such a marvelous creation? How have I not made them at least once a week for the past… forever?! What a brilliant idea! There’s something new on the immediate horizon and I am back in the preferred mindset of “goodness gracious, look at all the different and amazing things around us!”

As a warning, you might be seeing these a lot more around here, but I doubt that’ll be an issue once you’ve tried it and are as amazed as I was at the texture, presentation, and versatility of this recipe. Happy Breakfast Tuesday!

Ricotta Souffle Pancake with Peaches

(Recipe adapted from Honest Cooking, originally Lemon Ricotta Souffle Pancake with Berries)

Serves 6 to 8

Note: The original recipe has a ton of suggestions for what to put on top of the pancake, things like dried fruit, nuts, bananas, blueberries, etc. I just used peaches because that’s what I had on hand, and the idea of some sort of peach-ricotta pancake made me weak in the knees.

Ingredients:

¾ cup all purpose flour

1/3 cup granulated sugar

½ teaspoon salt

4 eggs, separated

4 tablespoons unsalted butter (separated, 2 tablespoons for pan and 2 tablespoons melted and cooled slightly)

2/3 cup ricotta

¼ cup milk

½ teaspoon vanilla

¼ cup roughly chopped peaches, or other fruit/topping*

2 tablespoons turbinado or granulated sugar for sprinkling

*I used about a ½ cup chopped peaches and was very pleased with the fruit to pancake ratio.

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and place a 10-inch cast-iron or other oven-proof skillet into oven.

2. In a medium bowl, stir together flour, granulated sugar, and salt. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl, whisk egg yolks, ricotta, milk, 2 tablespoons melted butter, and vanilla until thoroughly combined and smooth.

4. In a large bowl or bowl of stand mixer, whip egg whites until stiff peaks form.

5. Add dry ingredients to yolk mixture and combine well. Add a dollop of whipped egg white and stir to loosen batter. Fold in remaining whites until combined, taking care not to over mix.

6. Remove skillet from oven and put remaining two tablespoons butter in skillet to melt. When butter is melted, pour batter evenly into pan. Sprinkle chopped fruit evenly over top, and then sprinkle granulated sugar over everything.

7. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, until top is puffed and pancake is set. (My pancake did not brown on top, as the original recipe noted, but did brown around the edges.)

8. Cool in skillet for at least 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Storage: Like most soufflé-related baked goods, this pancake won’t keep nicely and is best served on the day it’s made.

If you know me, or have been reading this blog, you already know planning skills leave much to be desired. It was 5:30 pm, time for dinner, and I was not only far from my kitchen but sans any sort of packed dinner option. Trolling around the grocery store, clutching five dollars and hoping for a dinner miracle, I decided to take a gander at the jams and nut butters. I might be the only person who loves going down this aisle every time I’m in the grocery store just to look at all the stacked jars and pretty fruit colors. I leave off this little bit of crazy, though, because a miracle DOES end up happening, in the form of spreadable Speculoos cookies. So now I’m walking towards the check-out counter, clutching a five dollar bill and clutching, white knuckles and all, a jar of Biscoff spread. Dinner? No. I needed the jar of Biscoff spread.

You see, I’ve been reading about this stuff for ages, and have loved flying Delta just to get my hands on some of these magical cookies. Then my favoritest guys at Baked come out with a cookbook containing a recipe for Speculaas cookies. Then Trader Joe’s comes out with their version of this delicious spice cookie. Then David Lebowitz blogs about Biscoff spread. Spread?! I was seeing Biscoff cookies in my sleep, thinking about crumbling them and putting them in crusts and other cookies and pudding, dreaming about the possibility of spreadable cookies. For all this thinking and dreaming and yearning, though, I never got around to making it myself. It’s one of those recipes that I’ve been saving for a special occasion, though you know it goes that those are the recipes you forget you have, or just forget about completely.

Back to the grocery store, I’m trying to contain myself, only dancing a little bit and squealing under my breath. Finally! I get to see what all the fuss is about! The jar didn’t even make it home before I opened it and had my first taste. Good gravy, people. This stuff is incredible, not nearly as rich as I feared it might be, or as sweet as I thought it could be, just perfect, really. I can’t see it replacing peanut butter, but it doesn’t have to. Biscoff spread earns its right to exist completely on its own, just like nutella, in the holy-batman-delicious-spread category. And, as usual, when I’m this excited about a new ingredient I have to break it in by putting it in a pancake.

I tweaked a recipe for peanut butter pancakes, which I have tried and loved, making it a perfect vehicle for my new kitchen ingredient friend. My favorite part about these pancakes is that they weren’t too sweet, too rich, or too anything, a perfect balance of Speculoos cookie and pancake.

Speculoos Pancakes

(Recipe adapted from the wonderful Crepes of Wrath, originally Peanut Butter Pancakes)

Yields 9-10 pancakes using a ¼ cup measure

Ingredients:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 egg

1 cup and 3 tablespoons milk (if batter needs thinning, add extra milk to reach desired consistency)

½ cup Speculoos Spread (homemade or Biscoff), melted and cooled slightly

2 tablespoons vegetable, almond, or canola oil

Butter to grease skillet

Method:

1. If using cast iron, preheat skillet over medium heat.

2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

3. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together milk, speculoos spread, and oil.

4. Add wet ingredients to dry and whisk batter until most lumps disappear.

5. Grease skillet with a light film of butter and, using a ¼ cup measure, drop batter into skillet. Cook pancake until bubbles appear, 3 to 5 minutes, then flipping and continuing to cook for another 3 to 5 minutes, until pancake is browned on both sides.

Serve immediately. You can keep pancakes refrigerated up to 2 days, heating as you go, but they are definitely best the day they are made.

Happy belated Fourth of July! I tried my best to muster energy enough to research some sort of patriotic red-white-blue crazy concoction of a dessert but couldn’t manage it in the end. I tried to justify my lack of research by thinking that pancakes were just as patriotic as they come, and then the idea was thwarted by the fact that pancakes are not really an epitome of American cuisine – Swedish pancakes, anyone? Dutch pancakes? Crepes? Looks like I’ll have to find a different reason to make pancakes as an Independence Day treat.

Wait a minute! Did I really just write a short paragraph about needing to justify the making and eating of pancakes?! Who am I? When have I ever needed a reason? Psh, holiday, schmoliday and research, schmesearch. I really wanted to spend the day doing the things I enjoy most and leisurely making pancakes is one of my favoritest things in the world. I was able to try a new recipe using an ingredient I don’t normally think to use in pancakes (almond meal), to practice my flipping, to hone internal-pancake-browning timer, and, last but definitely not least, to eat copious amounts of sweetened coconut and almonds enclosed in a pancake. No part of this breakfast was very patriotic or American, but I heartily enjoyed every minute of it, thinking it was the best way I could think of to celebrate a birthday – in this case, America’s birthday.

I hope everyone had an awesome Fourth! Did you eat anything especially yummy or interesting? I’d love to hear about it!

Coconut Almond Pancakes

(Recipe adapted from The Nesting Project)

Yields 9 to 10 pancakes

Ingredients:

1 cup whole wheat flour

¼ cup almond meal

1 teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

1 egg

1 cup buttermilk (or 1 cup milk with 1 tablespoon vinegar)

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Optional: 1 heaping tablespoon yogurt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ teaspoon almond extract

1 cup sweetened coconut (if using unsweetened coconut, add extra sugar to batter)

Method:

1. If using a cast-iron skillet, preheat over medium heat. If desired, preheat oven to 200 degrees F and line a baking sheet with foil – to keep pancakes warm after taking off the skillet and before serving.

2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, almond meal, baking powder, and salt.

3. In a medium-size mixing bowl, whisk together egg, buttermilk, sugar, yogurt (if using), vanilla and almond extracts until frothy.

4. Fold wet ingredients into dry, mixing until just combined. Fold in coconut just until distributed evenly throughout batter.

5. Grease skillet and drop pancakes by the ¼ cupful, cooking 3 to 5 minutes (until bubbles form and edges look slightly dry) and flipping, then continuing to cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, until browned.

I’d recommend serving the pancakes as soon as possible, however, I tend to keep them refrigerated in a tupperware container up to 3 days, heating them up for breakfast on the go.

Breakfast Tuesday just got a little richer. Ricotta cheese is one of those things I can eat right out of the tub and not think twice about… for better or for worse. While ruminating on my pick for Breakfast this Tuesday, I remembered buying a small tub of ricotta while at the grocery store during a crazed craving-dairy errand. Right then and there I knew that it was time to make ricotta pancakes. Pancakes, small, round miracle yummies, made with a cheese that always makes me think of the gods’ sweet nectar on Mount Olympus seemed like the perfect way to start my week.

After making, plating, and photographing, I dove into the pancakes and just fell in love. I know I say this every time I make a new pancake, but these might just be my favorites. The pancakes come out fluffy like plain ol’ buttermilk cakes but kind of taste like a less cream-cheesy version of cheesecake. I served mine with bananas, slivered almonds, and evaporated milk (I have a problem with dairy and overloading) but can’t help dreaming about a strawberry sauce or other fruity accompaniment to serve with these pancakes.

The first step of this particular recipe involves draining the liquid off the ricotta you plan to use in the batter. I left the cup of ricotta in a fine mesh strainer over a bowl and came back a half hour later to find no accumulated liquid in the bowl. This leads me to believe that if you are using a store brand ricotta (like I was) you might not have to drain it at all. I could be wrong, though.

Ricotta Pancakes

(Recipe adapted from The Kitchn)

Yields 8-9 pancakes using a 1/3 cup measure

Ingredients:

1 cup ricotta cheese

¾ cup all purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

1 ½ tablespoons granulated sugar

pinch of salt

¾ cup milk

3 eggs, separated

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Method:

1. Set ricotta in a mesh strainer over a medium-size bowl for 30 minutes before making pancakes to drain excess moisture. (I used store brand ricotta and no liquid accumulated in the draining bowl, so I probably could have skipped this step.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt.

3. In a separate, larger bowl, whisk or stir together ricotta cheese, milk, egg yolks, and vanilla until mixture is smooth.

4. In yet another bowl, whisk egg whites until stiff peaks form.

5. Add dry ingredients to ricotta mixture and stir just until ingredients are moistened. Whisk in 1/3 of the whipped egg whites to lighten the batter, and then gently fold in rest of whites until batter is homogenous.

6. If using cast iron, preheat skillet over medium heat until drops of water sizzle on surface. If using a non-stick or other skillet, preheat over medium-high heat. Smear surface of hot skillet with a light coating of butter and drop pancake batter using either a 1/3 cup measure or ladle. Cook pancakes for 4-5 minutes on each side, until each side is golden brown.

Serve immediately.

My hetero-life-mate, or more commonly known as a best friend, and I went out for a lovely dinner last night to celebrate Valentine’s Day. The drinks were stellar (whiskey and lavender honey over ice!), the food was incredible, and the atmosphere was warm and cozy, with vibrant fabrics, red brick, and wire chairs. The evening took an interesting turn, however, when we asked about the dessert specials and not one of them contained chocolate! Not a one! It’s Valentine’s Day, for goodness sake! We want some gosh darn chocolate!

Special treat of the week: Valrhona cocoa powder!

I knew at that moment that my Post-Valentine’s Day Breakfast Tuesday would not only have to revolve around chocolate but also be enough like dessert to make up for my lack of dessert the night before.

Chocolate pancakes and blueberry sauce with a sprinkling of unsweetened coconut? Mission accomplished. This breakfast was so sweet and tasty that after eating it I ran around my apartment for 10 minutes, and then passed out on the couch in a sugar coma. Definitely cured my craving for an extravagant chocolate dessert.

Chocolate Pancakes

(Recipe found on the Gourmet Magazine website)

Yields 10 to 12 medium-sized pancakes

Ingredients:

½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour

1 cup granulated sugar

½ teaspoon baking soda

pinch of salt

2 eggs

1 egg yolk

¾ cup butter milk, or ¾ cup milk with one teaspoon vinegar left sitting for 5 minutes before use

½ cup vegetable or canola oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Unsalted butter to grease pan

Method:

1. If using a cast-iron skillet, preheat on medium-low heat.

2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together cocoa powder, flour, sugar, leavening agent, and salt. Set aside.

3. In a medium-size mixing bowl, combine all other ingredients. Whisk liquid ingredients together until combined.

4. Add wet ingredient mixture to dry ingredients, stirring until smooth (a few lumps are okay).

5. Let batter rest for 10 minutes before using.

6. Grease skillet with unsalted butter and scoop pancake batter into skillet with a scant ½ measuring cup or serving spoon. Heat over medium or medium-low heat until bubbles form on the surface, about 5 minutes. Flip pancake, heat for another 3 minutes, and turn onto a serving plate.

Writing out times for pancakes is always a little iffy, because it depends on how your oven heats the skillet. My gas range tends to overheat everything, so my pancakes sometimes take a little longer over low heat, to avoid burning.

Blueberry sauce

(Recipe is a mash-up of many different recipes, because they are all about the same)

Yields 1 ¼ cups sauce

Ingredients:

2 cups frozen or fresh blueberries

1 cup granulated sugar

½ cup water

1 teaspoon lemon juice

(Optional: 2 teaspoons grated lemon or orange zest)

Method:

1. Combine blueberries, sugar, water, and lemon juice in a medium heavy-bottom saucepan.

2. Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally.

3. Once mixture boils, lower heat to medium and simmer sauce for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it reaches desired consistency. If you want, you can mash some of the berries while stirring.

4. If using zest, stir in zest once sauce is off the heat. Serve warm

Store refrigerated in an air-tight container for up to 7 days.