It’s Sunday morning. Freezing cold outside. But the thought that I’m about to prepare the most delicious pancakes is enough to fill me warmth!
I grew up making French crêpes with my grandmother, something that excited me no end as a child, but also filled me with apprehension (I never quite mastered the art of flipping them!). Just about everybody knows crêpes. But not everybody knows that virtually every country in Europe has its own version of the pancake. The Italians have crespelli. The Russians have blinis. Germans and Austrians have Palatschinken, and the English, Central Europeans and Scandinavians all have their own take on it.
But for my money, there’s nothing like the big, light, moist American pancake… I’ve adopted it wholeheartedly as my favorite, with my own twist, of course! My version of the pancake reflects not only my own heritage, but my favorite cooking styles: American, French and Italian.
To make the syrup that will be generously drizzled on top of the pancakes, poach some Braeburn apple slices in maple syrup with a cinnamon stick. When the apples are perfectly tender, finish the syrup with roasted walnuts and a little Calvados (a French apple brandy). And finally, to make the batter as light and moist as possible, whisk in some fresh ricotta cheese.
The trick is to cook the pancakes on not too hot a griddle or frying pan so that they have a chance to gently cook inside and melt the ricotta without burning. Once assembled, these pancakes are so indulgent and luxurious you might just feel like you’re having breakfast at the Ritz, rather than in your own cozy kitchen!
Ricotta Pancakes with Apple-Calvados Syrup
makes 8 medium pancakes
active time: 30 min
For the syrup
- 1 1/2 cups grade A or B maple syrup
- 1 cup spring water
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 1/2 lbs (680gr) Braeburn, Fuji or other firm-flesh apples (about 3 large) – peeled, cored and cut in 1/2″ slices
- 1/4 cup Calvados (Applejack or brandy are good substitutes)
- 1/4 cup walnuts – toasted and broken in small pieces
For the pancakes
- 1 1/2 cups organic, unbleached all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup turbinado sugar
- 2 teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder
- pinch sea salt
- 4 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 1 1/3 cups fresh ricotta cheese
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (use microplane grater)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter – melted
- melted unsalted butter to brush the pan (about 1 tablespoon)
- mint leaves as garnish
- Step 1: Heat the maple syrup, water and cinnamon stick in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the apple slices, reduce heat to medium-high and fast simmer for 15 minutes until apples are tender and liquid has reduced by a third. Add the Calvados and continue to fast simmer for another 30 seconds. Transfer to a large bowl and add the walnut pieces. Mix well and set aside to cool to room temperature.
- Step 2: In a small bowl mix the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
- Step 3: In a large bowl whisk the eggs until lightly beaten. Add the milk, ricotta, vanilla, lemon zest and melted butter and whisk until well blended. Add the dry ingredients to the milk mixture and whisk until just incorporated. The batter should be slightly lumpy.
- Step 4: Heat a 7″ non-stick frying pan or griddle to medium-high heat. Brush pan with a little melted butter and lower to medium to medium-high heat. Using about 1/2 cup of the batter for each pancake, pour the batter into the pan. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the top of pancake has a few bubbles, edges look dry and bottom is golden. Flip the pancake and cook for an additional 1 to 2 minutes until bottom is golden and pancake is cooked through. As the pan gets hotter, you may have to reduce the heat further so the pancakes cook evenly without burning. Brush the pan with a little more butter before cooking the next pancake.
- Step 5: Place 2 pancakes in the center of each plate. Top with a few apple slices and drizzle with the syrup. Garnish with a mint leaf and serve immediately.
- Cook’s note: To toast the nuts: preheat oven to 350°F (177ºC). Place nuts on a baking sheet and bake for 6 to 7 minutes until golden. Cool to room temperature before using in the recipe.
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Disclaimer: As always, my point of view is my own. I do not accept samples, and have no commercial relationship with any product, food or wine company.