Coffee Meringue Pillow Pancakes

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In other words, a twist on the main star of CRUMBS, hoho. Time and time again, at least once every week or every other week, this is the baby that holds its name straight, waving the ‘pillow’ flag high. So high and bright. Receiving a little social media tag from someone who’s tried and loved the recipe I fiddled till perfection almost 2 years ago still tugs at my heart, pulling its strings and sending me into a fuzzy daze for a full 5 seconds. Saturday usually demands an experimental flair, but the past one was in need of a tried and true favourite, albeit with a little twist and flick.

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There’s something so seductive about a mile-high pillow pancake.

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Had some leftover meringue from my previous recipe (do check it out, just scroll a little) and decided none shall go to waste, and permeated my reliable pillow pancakes with that, and some espresso because I was in dire need of coffee and this was another excuse to get another jolt here.

Although the batter resides with the same format as the original, ratios and all, the addition of meringue gently folded in and the dash of coffee makes each pancake belly a little more moist and slightly chewy. I did end up with a slightly more liquid batter, though the retaining of some lumps is still quite crucial for the same extra-high result. The week has been speckled with more dire Trump news and lambasting and Crazy, so settling down to my pan and butter, batter at hand, was all it took to calm a couple rattled nerves.

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Coffee Meringue Pillow Pancakes (makes around 10-11 medium pancakes)

Ingredients (vegan subs included)

190g all-purpose flour

3 tbsp white sugar

generous pinch of salt

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 egg (sub: 60g vegan egg replacement, or one banana, or make a flax egg by mixing 1 tbsp flax with 2 tbsp water and letting sit for 5 minutes on the counter)

40g unsalted butter (sub: vegan butter such as Earth Balance)

1 tsp vanilla extract

240ml (1 cup) whole milk/ buttermilk; use store-bought or make your own by mixing 230ml whole milk with 1 tbsp white vinegar, and let the mixture sit for 5 minutes before using (sub: almond milk or any other plant milk of choice)

1 tbsp coffee extract or shot of espresso

50g meringue, briefly crushed with a spoon or your hands (find the recipe here near the bottom; you won’t need all of it but hey the more the merrier)

Directions

In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, salt, crushed meringue and leavening agents). In a small microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter in a microwave and set it aside, letting it cool. In another medium bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk, vanilla (or insides of a vanilla bean), coffee extract/espresso shot and melted butter. Pour the wet mix into the dry mix and mix briefly with a wooden spoon or a normal dinner spoon. Continue to mix until everything is just combined, which means there will still be a few lumps, but no more streaks of flour.

Preheat your pan on medium heat and ready some butter. You know the pan is hot enough when you flick a little water onto its surface and there’s a clear sizzle. At that point, generously butter the pan and ladle tablespoonfuls of batter. I didn’t have to wait for bubbles to pop before flipping; the batter is thicker than usual and there’s no need to wait. Flip the pancakes when you notice the edges stiffening a little, or when you can slide your spatula whole underneath the bottom of the pancake. It will rise a little upon flipping, as if that action gives it life, and hence, breath. The surface should have a brown mosaic thanks to the hot butter. Once the second side is done (will take no more than 20 seconds), let cool on a paper towel. As mentioned above, these freeze wonderfully, so you can make a whole batch, have a small stack and stash the rest in a ziploc bag in the freezer.

Serve with butter and maple syrup, or whatever you want. I particularly like them with banana, its moist sweetness adjoining arms with the maple. What a Sunday.

 

Chocolate Truffle Maple Syrup Cake

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Describe the taste of maple syrup.

Research informed me that it depends on the degree of roasting flavour. Typical notes are coffee, chocolate and chicory, and for the strong roasting flavour, you get hints of burnt sugar and smoke. Whatever the degree, there’s something incredibly enticing about this ingredient in particular. I use it several times a week without fail, almost always on toast and always on the occasional Sunday pancake session, yet it only recently occurred to me how deeply embedded it is in my kitchen system. It sits there day after day, use after use, so giving, so heartwarming. I love maple syrup, and there are few things I like more than chocolate and maple syrup. The sophistication of a rich, dark truffle stuck in honey-coloured, maple-flavoured fluffy cake is a welcome picture.

With so many truffles lying around the house, I thought I might as well put them to good use. The sort I use here are 60% cocoa; your standard, powdered, melt-at-room-temperature truffles. My hands were an absolute mess working with them, but the mess only enhanced the pleasure of the whole process, even as I witnessed some smaller bits melt a little into the batter before anything even hit the heat of the oven.

Your fork dives in. Zero resistance as it goes right through the pale, tender, moist body, and then maybe just a little once you hit a pocket of slightly stiffened chocolate goo. Break the cake apart. It’s a mess of black and white, a welcome juxtaposition of soft, fluffy crumbs and dangerous dark hotpockets. Sin trapped in something all too normal, all done before. No truffles? That’s ok, just use broken up bits of your dark chocolate bar. The effect won’t quite be the same with the whimsical shape irregularities and molten middles, but I would think it would be almost as delicious.

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Chocolate Truffle Maple Syrup Cake (makes 16 squares, heavily adapted from my cinnamon coffee cake)

Ingredients

165g all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

55g (less than 1/4 cup) white sugar

115g unsalted butter at room temperature (or microwave cold butter in 15-second increments until it’s a little warmer and soft to touch)

120ml (1/2 cup) buttermilk, or make your own by putting half a tablespoon of distilled white vinegar into your measuring cup or jug and filling it up to the mark with whole milk (let this mix sit for 5 minutes at room temperature before using).

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 egg

100ml (1/4 cup and 1 tablespoon) maple syrup, and more for drizzling

9-11 medium-sized (around 2 inches wide) chocolate truffles, a few broken up into smaller pieces, or if you don’t have truffles, just broken up bits of a good quality dark chocolate bar.

Directions

Preheat your oven to 177C (350F), and butter and line an 8×8-inch square baking pan. What I like to do is butter the pan liberally, before placing down a piece of parchment that has 2 sides which are 8 inches, and the other 2 slightly longer so that it’s easy to pull out the bars once cool. Whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt) except for the sugar in a medium bowl.

Beat together the butter, maple syrup and sugar in a separate bowl. In a smaller bowl (yes there are 3 bowls here, but the washing up is not much pain, promise), whisk or beat together the egg, buttermilk and vanilla extract. Add half of the dry ingredient mix and half of the egg-buttermilk mix to the butter and maple syrup mix, and then beat to mix. Then add the rest and gently mix everything together, starting with a wooden spoon, and then switching to a rubber spatula to make the job easier.

Into your buttered and lined pan, add half of the batter, which should be smooth and slightly thick, and then dot the batter with chocolate truffles. Add the rest of the batter on top and smooth it out. Bake in the preheated oven for 33-35 minutes, or until a wooden skewer inserted into the centre emerges clean. The top should be slightly darker than when you first put it in, and brown around the edges. Enjoy this with vanilla ice cream or whipped and sweetened mascarpone (as in the pictures above) and a drizzle more of pure maple syrup.