March 27, 2011

Tropical Pancakes with Pineapple Sauce

Last weekend, it was warm  here.  It looked like spring had finally arrived, and I'd thought I might be spending a fair chunk of the weekend cleaning up weeds and getting our garden ready to plant.    Then it snowed on Thursday and Friday, with more expected for Saturday.  Bleh!

Maybe it was those dashed hopes for warmth and sunshine, or maybe something else, but in any case, an idea came to me... if it wasn't going to be sunny and warm this weekend, maybe I could evoke some sense of warmth and sunshine in my cooking.  And that thought led into my latest culinary creation:  Tropical Pancakes.

The idea I had was pretty simple at the core:  Basic pancakes, but loaded up with crushed pineapple and shredded coconut, and served up with a warm pineapple sauce.  As I fine-tuned the recipe, I decided to add some crushed-up macadamia nuts as an additional tropical touch.  From there, it was just a matter of experimenting a bit with how much extra liquid I'd need to add to balance out the fruit.

The result was, quite simply, wonderful.    Fluffy pancakes packed with fruit and nut and coconut flavor, covered with a thick, warm pineapple sauce.   They were like home-cooked sunshine.  Juli said they were maybe the best pancakes she's ever had, and I'd say they certainly rival the best I've ever had, at very least.

It might not be as warm outside this weekend as I'd hoped, but these pancakes sure warmed us up on the inside.

Saturday's Breakfast:  Tropical Pancakes with Pineapple
Sauce, along with sausage and orange juice.

Tropical Pancakes with Pineapple Sauce

yield = 5-6 servings

1              can (20 ounces) crushed pineapple
2              cups all-purpose flour
2              tablespoons sugar
2              teaspoons baking powder
1/2           teaspoon baking soda
3/8           teaspoon table salt
1              large egg
3              tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4           teaspoon coconut extract
2 1/4        cups buttermilk
1/4           cup shredded sweetened coconut
2              tablespoons macadamia nuts, crushed
1              tablespoon vegetable oil or shortening
1/2           teaspoon corn starch
2              teaspoons cold water

Drain pineapple in a strainer set over a large liquid measuring cup.  Press pineapple with a rubber spatula to squeeze out excess liquid.   Set aside, retaining both the drained pineapple and the juice.

Add flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt to a large bowl and whisk together.  In a medium bowl, whisk egg, unsalted butter and coconut extract together, then whisk in the buttermilk.    Pour the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture and stir until the mixture is just incorporated, with some lumps remaining.  Do not over-mix the batter.   Add 1/2 cup of the drained pineapple to the bowl along with the coconut and macadamia nuts.  Stir the fruit and nuts gently into the batter, again being careful to not over-mix.

Add the liquid from the canned pineapple to a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and cook it until it has cooked down about halfway.   Meanwhile, heat the oil or shortening in a large skillet or electric skillet over medium-high heat.   Cook batches of pancakes by pouring about 1/3 cup of batter per pancake, making sure to leave room between the batches of batter.   Cook until large bubbles begin to appear on top of the batter (about 2 minutes), then flip the pancakes and cook another 2 minutes.  They should be lightly browned on both sides.  Transfer cooked pancakes to a plate and cover with foil and continue until all the batter is used up. 

Stir the remainder of the pineapple into the saucepan with the thickened juice and bring to a boil.  Dissolve the cornstarch in the cold water, stir it into the saucepan with the pineapple and cook until thickened (an additional 30 seconds or so), then transfer to a serving bowl.

Spoon some of the pineapple sauce atop individual servings of pancakes and serve.

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