Sunday, August 24, 2014

Lemon-Orange Pancakes with Prickly Pear Syrup

As you saw in my last post, I recently got the chance to harvest and process a whole lot of prickly pears. Which means I now have the exciting challenge of figuring out how to use up 3-1/2 gallons of prickly pear juice! To kick things off, I whipped up a simple but stunning syrup to adorn some citrusy pancakes. The flavors paired beautifully together, creating a sweet, bright, fluffy, sticky breakfast. And aren't the colors just so inviting and energetic?

If you don't have access to prickly pears (or the inclination to process them yourself for juice), I would recommend using raspberries or blackberries for the syrup. Raspberries are probably the closest in flavor (and color) to the prickly pear. For suggested directions, see my notes in the syrup recipe.

I admit I was a little weirded out by the ricotta in these pancakes. I associate ricotta with lasagna, and I definitely don't associate lasagna with pancakes. But ricotta is actually pretty neutral-flavored, so it added some substance to the pancakes, and they turned out fluffy and delightful.

Lemon-Orange Ricotta Pancakes
Adapted slightly from Prevention RD
Yield: 4 servings (3 pancakes each)

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3-1/2 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 cup milk (I used 2%)
3/4 cup low-fat ricotta
3 eggs
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Zest of 1 navel orange (about 1 Tbsp.)
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

Whisk together all dry ingredients in a mixing bowl--flours, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. In a separate bowl, whisk together milk, ricotta, eggs, vanilla, orange zest, and lemon juice. Add the melted butter, whisking as you add it. It may curdle a little as bits of the butter re-solidify. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, and whisk to combine, being careful not to overmix.

Toward the end of measuring and adding ingredients, heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. If desired, spray lightly with a neutral-flavored cooking spray.

Scoop a scant 1/3 cup of batter onto the skillet for each pancake. Cook 2-3 minutes or until bubbles develop on the surface of the pancakes. Flip and cook another 2-3 minutes until cooked through and nicely browned.

Tip: As you finish each skillet of pancakes, stick your plate of finished pancakes in the microwave to keep them warm. Don't turn on the microwave or anything--but the small enclosed space will keep the pancakes nice and warm.

Prickly Pear Syrup
Yield: About 2/3 cup syrup

1/3 cup prickly pear juice
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
1-1/2 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. cornstarch

Whisk all ingredients together in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium to medium-high heat. Cook for 5-10 minutes at a relatively low boil (my burner was probably on medium), whisking fairly often. The goal is for the syrup to reduce in volume and thicken without scorching. The flavors will develop as it it thickens and reduces. Remove from heat and serve.

This syrup would also be great on waffles or french toast. The prickly pear and lemon make this a very brightly flavored syrup, and I could see it pairing beautifully with the kinds of flavors that would go well with raspberries. Perhaps with some slight modification, this could be lovely as a glaze on blueberry or lemon poppy seed muffins.

If you don't have access to prickly pears, try this syrup with raspberries or blackberries. I'd suggest starting with 2/3 to a full 1 cup of fruit. Puree it well, then strain through a fine mesh strainer to remove the seeds and pulp from the juice. Then use 1/3 cup of that juice in the recipe above.

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