Breakfast or Dessert? The Mighty Ricotta Pancake

IMG_3167I’m not much of a “sweets” person and have thankfully never craved sugary flour (I typically take a pass on the cake and donuts). But on New Year’s Day, I decided to be decadently creative with our leftover ricotta cheese from the holidays. In a split-second moment of clarity, I pictured the final outcome, and spontaneously said it out loud: “let’s have ricotta pancakes!”

But is there such a thing? After a couple of minutes of research online, I found a recipe that looked conceivable and delicious, and I made my move. The pancakes that came sizzlin’ off the skillet were so “perfect” that it made me a bit worried (I don’t want to begin craving sugary flour after all this time). Their lightness almost resembled a soufflé, and their flavor bordered on crème brulee-like. They’re not particularly sweet, yet didn’t need maple syrup on top. These fancy flapjacks would delight anyone from the pickiest child to a gourmand with a demanding palate.

My personal tweak to the recipe includes the addition of lemon zest in the batter and a dollop of whipped cream on top of the final product….transforming these hotcakes into a delightful, low-guilt dessert. Link to the original recipe here, and enjoy them on your favorite occasions.

Fluffy Ricotta Pancakes
Makes 8 to 10 pancakes

1 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
2 eggs, separated into yolks and whites
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Butter, for the pan

If your ricotta seems to have a lot of liquid, set it in a fine mesh strainer to drain off excess liquid about 30 minutes before you start cooking. If your ricotta seems fairly dry and compact, you can skip this step.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a small bowl. Combine ricotta, milk, egg yolks, and vanilla in a separate, larger mixing bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the ricotta and milk mixture, stirring gently until just combined.

Beat the egg whites with a handheld electric mixer until stiff (see Recipe Note). Stir a small scoop of the egg whites into the pancake batter to lighten the batter, then fold in the remaining whites with a spatula.

Heat a griddle over medium-high heat. Melt a small bit of butter in the pan, just enough to coat the surface. Use a 1/3-cup measure to pour batter onto the hot griddle. Cook the pancakes for about 3 or 4 minutes, until the undersides are golden and you see a few bubbles popping through the pancakes. Flip the pancakes and cook another 2 to 3 minutes, until golden. Repeat with the remaining pancakes. Serve the pancakes immediately, with maple syrup, fruit jam, lemon curd, or powdered sugar.

Make it a brunch affair, and pair these pancakes with a nice Moscato d’Asti.

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