February 25, 2016

Chocolate Chip Pancakes

Italians don't really do breakfast. If anything, people grab a cornetti (croissant) and a cappuccino and power walk to wherever they need to be. So when my class was cancelled this morning I wanted a big hearty brunch that would last me until the next time I happened to have time for a real breakfast (which probably won't be soon between visiting as many countries in Europe as possible and eating as much food as possible and also going to class).

I ultimately decided on chocolate chip pancakes despite the fact that baking powder, vanilla extract, and chocolate chips don't exist here. I made it work, though, by making my own baking powder, using a powdered vanillin substitute, and chopping up a fancy Italian chocolate bar. Hopefully you won't have to do the same, but it just proves that this recipe is pretty hard to mess up.

Like all good pancake recipes, this recipe is extremely simple. You just whisk your dry ingredients together and your wet ingredients together and combine them just until mixed and then fry them up by the dozen. More specifically, I combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt first.

As for the wet ingredients, I use eggs, vanilla, butter, and, of course, buttermilk. I cannot stress enough how important it is to use buttermilk. Buttermilk isn't really a thing in Italy, so the first time I made these here I just used regular milk and these were flat and lifeless because the batter wasn't acidic enough to activate the baking soda. This morning, I added a squirt of lemon juice which worked as a good substitute but still wasn't nearly as good as the liquid gold found back home in the south.

To finish the batter, just stir everything together until just combined. The hallmark of a good pancake batter is that it's still slightly lumpy because fully mixing it risks overmixing it, which means tough pancakes. Cooking the pancakes is an art as well. I've found that either the first pancake is the most perfect one or the worst one, so don't be discouraged if it's hideous (it still tastes delicious). I like to fry mine in a mixture of butter and oil so I get flavor and color. I use just enough fat to cover the bottom of the pan, but you can always stray from this. Some people prefer all butter or all oil, and my dad uses enough of both to practically deep fry the pancakes--which is delicious if you aren't watching how much fat is used.

Before frying, you can fold in some berries, bananas, chocolate, nuts, or anything else you happen to want in your pancakes. I love chocolate chip pancakes, but I tend to add them on top of the finished pancakes so the chocolate doesn't scorch in the pan. If anything does burn in the pan, you should wipe it out and start with some new butter and/or oil so the rest of your pancakes don't burn. As I said earlier, this recipe is pretty hard to screw up, but that's one of a few ways to ensure that you're getting the best pancakes possible.

3/4 Cup Buttermilk
1 Cup Flour
3 T Sugar
1 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Salt
1 Egg
1 tsp Vanilla
2 T Butter, Melted

Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Combine the buttermilk, egg, butter, and vanilla, then whisk into the flour mixture.

Heat some butter and oil in a skillet or on a griddle and cook pancakes until golden brown.

Serves 2-4
Recipe Adapted from

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