When I was in college, my friend Valerie and I had a ritual. Every Saturday morning we would drag ourselves out of bed at the ungodly hour of 10:30 AM (it was college – that was early) and schlep ourselves over to the dining hall for brunch. They always had made-to-order pancakes. Mine always had to have chocolate chips – and later bananas as well. It is still my favorite comfort food breakfast, not only because it is simply the best, most delicious thing ever, but also because it reminds me of lazy Saturday mornings laughing and eating with my wonderful friend. Plus it gives me an excuse to play Jack Johnson.
A lot has changed in the way I eat since college. I’ve become a vegetarian, my interest in nutrition has increased, and my palette has become more amenable to things it would never have touched in the past. I love food, and though my relationship with it has not always been positive, as I discussed in my story, A Battle on Sacred Ground, we’ve learned to get along amicably now.
I’m fascinated by ingredients – how they change color, texture, and taste in a dish. I love how fats add flavor, gluten adds stretch and proteins fill the body. Whereas I used to follow a recipe to the letter, I now feel comfortable making substitutions with more interesting ingredients, while still keeping the heart of the original dish intact.
The pancake recipe I have for you today is heavily adapted from this one: Mark Bittman’s Everyday Pancakes on Epicurious. It is a fantastic basic recipe and if you are a pancake purist, I highly recommend it. I made some major changes to the recipe to make it more of the type of breakfast I enjoy eating – namely simultaneously more nutritious and more indulgent.
Subbing half of the regular flour for buckwheat flour gave a more interestingly flavored pancake, and also made the cakes more dense. Browning the butter added a delicious nutty flavor, while muscovado sugar (a soft dark brown sugar with a lot of moisture) added deep burnt caramel notes. Instead of buttermilk I used filmjölk, a Nordic pourable yogurt similar to kefir and full of gut-friendly probiotics. I also added vanilla and cinnamon to the batter for extra flavor, and, of course, there are those bananas and dark chocolate chips to top everything off.
These are best topped with maple syrup (please use the real stuff, the rest is just not really worth it), a drizzle of honey, and if you are crazy like me you can throw cold cream, honey and the contents of a vanilla bean into a cold mason jar and shake until you get whipped cream to dollop on everything. Oh, and some sea salt. Seriously. Salt + chocolate is better than chocolate – salt.
Obviously adapt to your liking – and please enjoy without guilt. Food is good for you – even chocolate chip banana pancakes for dinner every now and again.
Browned-Butter Buckwheat Banana & Chocolate Chip Pancakes
- Play with this recipe if you’d like. Add more buckwheat flour or less. You can ever try different flours. Just be aware that the less refined your flour, the denser the pancake will be.
- If you don’t have muscovado sugar, feel free to use any sweetener you’d like – regular sugar, brown sugar, honey – maple syrup works wonderfully as well. Same goes for the filmjölk – feel free to sub buttermilk, kefir, whole milk, plant-based milk – your choice! The filmjölk I used is Siggi’s brand, and was easy to find at my grocery store.
- Make sure your bananas are ripe – they taste best that way.
- Don’t have a vanilla bean? Feel free to leave it out or sub a teaspoon or two of vanilla extract. If you’ve never used a vanilla bean, the Kitchn has a good primer here: The Kitchn’s Vanilla Bean Lesson.
- Ditto on browning butter. It can go from brown to burnt quickly, so I recommend this primer (also from The Kitchn!): The Kitchn’s How to Brown Butter.
- This recipe makes about 8 six-inch pancakes, but they are very filling, so two per person is probably sufficient, but do your thing as you like it.
For the pancakes:
2 T. unsalted butter
1 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. buckwheat flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 T. muscovado sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
2 c. plain filmjölk
2 ripe bananas, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch slices
2/3 c. dark chocolate chips (plus more for garnish)
For the topping:
1 c. heavy whipping cream
1 T. runny honey
1 vanilla bean
For serving: maple syrup, runny honey, dark chocolate chips, cinnamon and flaky sea salt
- First, make honey vanilla whipped cream. Place clean and dry pint sized mason jar (with lid) in freezer for 5-10 minutes, or until very cold.
- Remove jar from freezer and place cream, honey, and vanilla bean seeds in cold mason jar.
- Screw lid on tightly and shake that thing. I find that it takes 2-5 minutes to complete – it’s a great arm workout! You’ll know its done when you can no longer feel the cream sloshing around in the jar, although there is no harm in opening up the jar to check its progress.
- Place whipped (or, rather, shaken) cream in the fridge until pancakes are ready.
- Now for the pancakes. First brown the butter (if you don’t know how, check out the primer up above in the notes!). Once browning is complete, remove pan from heat and allow butter to cool slightly.
- In a large bowl, mix together the flours, baking powder, sugar, salt and cinnamon.
- In a measuring cup or small bowl beat the eggs, then add the filmjölk, cooled browned butter and vanilla and blend well.
- Add the filmjölk mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until just moistened. If the batter is too thin, add more flour, about a tablespoon at a time. Similarly, if it is too thick, add more filmjölk, about a tablespoon at a time as well.
- When batter is desired thickness, add bananas and chocolate chips and fold gently to combine.
- Heat a nonstick skillet or griddle on medium heat. Add a bit of butter or cooking spray (I used coconut oil cooking spray) to the pre-heated pan and ladle the batter into pancakes of desired size.
- Let cook until bubbles appear on the surface and edges of pancakes set, then flip to cook the other side. It takes about 2-3 minutes per side, but watch them carefully so that they don’t burn. The batter is darker because of the buckwheat flour, so they may look more browned than normal.
- When all of the pancakes are done, plate them with maple syrup, honey, dark chocolate chips, the whipped cream, flaky salt and a dash of cinnamon, if desired (but really, it’s perfect this way). Devour.
Serves four happy people (or soon to be happier once they eat chocolate for breakfast people).