Wednesday, August 17, 2011

the most sinfully delectable Butter Pecan Crumble Pancakes with homemade Cinnamon Maple Butter

Butter Pecan, and my search for a recipe is what inspired me to start writing this blog.  This past May, I was searching online for recipes for butter pecan waffles, as well as daydreaming about someday having an ice cream maker to make my own butter pecan ice cream.  I had intended to make the waffles for Jamie's birthday breakfast in May, but, ended up changing my mind completely, as I so often do about something I'm planning to cook.

I have a list of recipe ideas that's constantly growing and changing, and then those ideas turn into something totally different from what they started out as.  How I began with an idea for butter pecan waffles and ended up making him lemon blueberry waffles with homemade lemon curd, I have no idea!  But those were pretty fantastic, too.

My point, though, is that during my search, I stumbled on a blog that I was instantly drawn to.  It was so cute, so fun, so full of interesting tidbits on food and fashion, and it made me feel as though if the writer and I just happened to meet in passing while ordering coffee at Starbucks or something, that we would instantly become friends.

I was inspired to start writing again.

I haven't done much real, active writing in a very long time - mostly in college and during a few years following graduation.  Lots of poetry was written during that time (some of it okay, and most of it really awful), as well as a string of short stories and half-finished novels.  Imagine a book plot where a hunky UPS guy delivers a package to a single woman in her mountain cabin, and it's snowing out, of course, so his truck gets stuck, and he's forced to stay with her that night...  You get the picture.  My major in college was Creative Writing, with a minor in English Literature, and for years after graduating, I felt that it was somewhat of a useless major.  I had dreams of finishing school and instantly writing a best-selling romance novel (or a whole series!), living off the profits while traveling to Europe and being generally fabulous. 

But instead of pursuing a career of badly written books with completely unbelievable plots, I moved to China to teach English, something I will never regret. For a long time after returning to the States, I had plans to write a novel about my experiences in China as well, but found it difficult as my emotions over leaving got in my own way.  Years passed, the feelings faded, the memories grew fonder, and we all grew up and moved on with life.  Since then, I've lost my interest in writing romance novels - perhaps learning what real love and romance is made the fantasy world I liked to create seem silly and juvenile.

And now, I'm so happy to be writing this blog, to be cooking for all of you, sharing with you the things I love and make and to have all of you come back day after day to read my ramblings.  I no longer think my major was useless - it was still a good education, after all - and I embrace all the choices I've made in my life as they've led me to where I am now, the people I've met, and the things I've learned.  As well as the way I'm able to express myself through writing, so much more freely than I am sometimes able to in person.

So let's talk about Butter Pecan Crumble Pancakes, because that's why we're here today.  I promised in the title of today's post that you were going to get a sinfully delectable pancake, and you're going to get it! :)

My butter pecan quest didn't end in May - I've been thinking about this recipe ever since then, even though I decided to make them as pancakes instead of waffles.  But these aren't just any pancakes - these pancakes are made with homemade cinnamon maple butter in the pancake batter, the batter is full of spices and crunchy pecans, and each pancake is layered with a crumbly, buttery, pecan topping.  And of course, real maple syrup and a little powdered sugar, just to look pretty.  These will blow your mind.

I made a small batch - just enough to make 6 pancakes - which you would think two people could manage to finish...  Jamie made pretty good work of his, but I could only eat half of mine.  These could almost be considered dessert, but just so you don't feel too guilty about eating such decadent pancakes for breakfast (or on a breakfast-for-dinner night!), let's just call them special occasion pancakes, my special occasion being having Jamie back from Sturgis (and yes, I know, I filled him up with a good dinner the night he got home, but I decided he needed pancakes for breakfast on Sunday for our long, hard day of lying on the couch and cuddling.)

To start, I made the butter.  This can be made a few days in advance.  For pictures of the process for making butter (beating heavy whipping cream until it separates into butter and buttermilk) please see my previous post on homemade sweet cream lemon basil butter.

Then, I started with a basic buttermilk pancake batter and created a little bit of heaven with the homemade butter melted into the batter, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and vanilla bean paste, and of course, pecans.

And lastly, there's the pecan crumble topping.  You can't make these pancakes without the topping.  It's an absolute requirement.

You should probably be wearing your PJs when you eat these, with a pillow and a cuddly blanket nearby, so that after you're done, you can lie back, happy and full, and maybe watch Sleepless in Seattle before you drift into a contented post-breakfast nap.  :)

Cinnamon Maple Butter
  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
With an electric mixer, beat all ingredients until smooth and creamy.

Pecan Crumble Topping
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons cinnamon maple butter
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans
Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Combine the flour and sugar in a bowl.  Using a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the flour and sugar until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Add the pecans, and use your fingers to toss together and incorporate into the mixture.

Spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray.  Spread the crumble on the baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes until golden brown and crisp.

Butter Pecan Crumble Pancakes
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup cinnamon maple butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla (I used vanilla bean paste)
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk, melted butter and vanilla.  Pour into the dry ingredients and stir just until combined (batter should be lumpy).  Stir in the pecans.

Let the pancake batter rest for 20 minutes before cooking the pancakes.  Top each pancake with some of the pecan crumble and maple syrup. (makes 6-8 pancakes)