Sunday, February 9, 2014

Banana Almond Whole Wheat Pancakes

It's Valentine's Week, and I have all things hearts and romance on my mind.  Jamie is taking me downtown to an oyster bar for dinner and then to see the Cinderella ballet on Friday night, and I'm so excited.

What's ironic is that one day a few weeks ago, I was thinking about buying the tickets to the ballet, when I texted him to make sure he hadn't already made plans or reservations for something else, and he told me that had just bought the ballet tickets a few minutes before.

You know you're perfect for someone when you find out you're both buying tickets for the exact same event at the exact same moment.  One Christmas, we even bought each other the same present, a counter-top convection oven.  We had a good laugh about it and returned one.

For breakfast Saturday I made banana almond pancakes, slightly hearty from the whole wheat, tender and moist from buttermilk and sweet bananas, spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg.  To romance them up a little, I cut tiny little banana hearts to garnish the pancakes, along with chopped toasted almonds and pure maple syrup.

I remember tasting real maple syrup as a kid, and thinking that it was awful, not nearly as delicious as the too-sweet fake syrup I was used to pouring over waffles and pancakes, and I'm glad to say I no longer believe this.  The real stuff is so much better.

It's been four years since Jamie and I celebrated our first Valentine's, the same weekend that he had to leave town for his grandma's funeral; she had passed away unexpectedly a few days before.  The day he returned, I was in a car crash while on my way to go meet him.  My car was totaled, struck from behind and completely smashed in, so Jamie came to me instead, and we made last-minute dinner reservations.

A few weeks later, we had our belated Valentine's dinner where we had originally planned, and over glasses of wine, he gave me the key to his place.  It was an evening of firsts for me, the key, the Valentine's dinner with someone who loves me, the overwhelming sense of security and hope for our future together.

One Year Ago:   Lemon Shortbread Valentine's Day Cookies
Two Years AgoBanana Nutella Smoothie

Banana Almond Pancakes

·         2 large ripe bananas
·         1 teaspoon lemon juice
·         1 cup buttermilk
·         1 egg
·         2 tablespoons melted butter, plus extra for the griddle
·         ½ teaspoon vanilla
·         ½ teaspoon almond extract
·         ¾ cup whole wheat flour
·         ¾ cup all-purpose flour
·         ¼ cup light brown sugar
·         1 teaspoon cinnamon
·         ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
·         1 teaspoon baking soda
·         ½ teaspoon kosher salt
·         ¼ cup raw unsalted or lightly salted almonds, lightly toasted and chopped
·         pure maple syrup
·         mini cookie cutters, any shape

Baker’s Note:   I used a 2 ½ inch round biscuit cutter to trim the edges off the pancakes after cooking them; this step is optional, but does make them look pretty and uniform.  I also used a heart cookie cutter to cut the center out of a few cooked pancakes to decorate the plate.

Peel the bananas and slice into ¼ inch slices.  Use a mini heart cookie cutter (or flower, star, etc.) to cut a heart out of the center of each slice, saving the leftover banana slices.  Place the banana hearts in a bowl and toss with the lemon juice to keep them from browning.

In a blender, blend the leftover banana slices, buttermilk, egg, melted butter, vanilla and almond extract until smooth.  Add both flours, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda and salt and blend for 30 seconds.

Heat a griddle to 275.  Melt a little butter on the griddle and use a ¼ measuring cup to measure out the batter, cooking the pancakes in batches.  Keep the pancakes warm in a 250 degree oven while you cook the rest of the pancakes.

Garnish with the banana hearts, almonds and syrup.

Yields about 16 pancakes (approximately 3 per serving)

Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen