Monthly Archives: February 2010

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

I’m not a big breakfast eater. Don’t get me wrong, I do eat breakfast. But these days it’s usually a bagel at my desk or a scone picked up on my way to work because, frankly, I’d rather have those extra 10 minutes of sleep than a sit-down morning meal. Unsurprisingly, I’m not much of a morning person.

Brunch, I like. Breakfast-type meals, but after a good sleep-in.

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes I

Growing up, when I was a bit better about waking up in time to eat before leaving the house — partly because it was trickier to eat and walk to school at the same time — I had the strange habit of preferring to eat leftovers for breakfast. Pasta and tomato sauce? Yes, please. Mashed potatoes with gravy? Warm and filling. Cold pizza? Breakfast of champions — after all, it does have several major food groups.

My parents thought it was amusing. Except for the day I wanted to make fish sticks for breakfast; my mom drew the line at that. But sometimes I do want a real breakfast. At home. In my pyjamas.

What I don’t want, though, is a basic pancake.

My Internet travels provided a solution, as I came across a recipe for lemon ricotta pancakes — an intriguing idea. And what a pleasant surprise this recipe turned out to be. Not only did they combine my love of all things lemon, but they were light, like flat baby souffles, with golden edges and a hint of salt from the melted butter they were fried in.

I shamelessly scarfed a bunch down as, ahem, quality control before handing a plate to a friend I had staying with me. In my defence, I had made them quite tiny.

So fluffy and weightless, so bright with their lemon flavour. I couldn’t get enough.

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes II

But this recipe wasn’t without its foibles. Confusingly, the tubs of ricotta are measured in grams and not millilitres or cups. I did some math and the 250-gram tub was a little more than one cup.

I wasn’t going to hang on to a tablespoon or two of ricotta cheese, so I just dumped the whole thing in. Surely, I figured, it wasn’t going to do much harm. And it didn’t. Plus, it’s one of my huge pet peeves to have a recipe that calls for almost an entire can/jar/tub or something, leaving us cooks with random leftover ingredients.

Also, I couldn’t be bothered to zest the lemon onto something just to put it in a measuring spoon and then add it the mixture, so I just zested one lemon straight into the egg yolks. I might be tempted to try the zest of two lemons next time, but only because I love that flavour and feel there’s no such thing as too much lemon.

Lastly, the original recipe I found for this suggested mixing raspberry jam with maple syrup as a topping.

But I wanted something that was going to complement the light lemon flavour of the pancakes, rather than weighing it down. Just before I got started, I diced up about two cups of strawberries, sprinkled on some sugar and let them sit to macerate while I got down to business.

It was the perfect pairing. The slightly sweetened berries added the right touch of fruit, but still let the pancakes shine.

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes III

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

This recipe is adapted from the Alberta Egg Producers.

  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 1 tub (250 grams) or 1 cup (250 ml) ricotta cheese
  • 3 tbsp (50 ml) sugar
  • ½cup (125 ml) all-purpose flour
  • zest of one lemon
  • 2 tbsp (25 ml) butter
  • 2 cups (500 ml) strawberries, diced
  • sugar to taste

In a large mixing bowl, whisk egg yolks, ricotta cheese, sugar, flour and lemon zest.

In another bowl, whip egg whites with a mixer until glossy peaks form. Stir about one-quarter of the whites into the ricotta mixture, then fold in the remaining whites gently.

Melt butter in pan over medium heat, drop batter on using small ladle or large spoon. I used a ¼-cup (50-ml) measure.) Flatten slightly, then let cook for about two minutes per side until lightly browned. Top with macerated strawberries.

This story first appeared in the Real Life section in the Calgary Herald. For more delicious recipes, visit CalgaryHerald.com/life.

Applesauce Spice Cupcakes

I felt like making cupcakes. That’s pretty much the reason for the post.

Iced Cupcake

So, I was flipping through my cupcake cookbook (impulse buy, of course. Sigh.) and found this recipe for Applesauce Spice Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting. (Aren’t you glad I didn’t make all of that the title of the post?) The only reason I paused was because I noticed that it called for unsweetened applesauce and I just happened to have some in my cupboard. Not something I’d normally have hanging around but when I made my Applesauce Cake a few weeks ago, I didn’t look closely at the recipe before going shopping. When looking at the choice between unsweetened and sweetened applesauce, I figured it was only logical that the applesauce cake would call for unsweetened because there was sugar in the recipe.

Duh.

This is why I need to be more explicit with my lists.

I came home to find I bought the wrong kind and had to go back to the grocery store for the right kind of applesauce. I would have returned the unsweetened but was too lazy to go all the way back to the store where I bought it (there are none of that chain close to me; I had picked it up while running other errands). Plus, I guess I figured at some point I would find a way to use it up.

And, lo, I did.

Like every other time I’ve made a Martha Stewart cupcake recipe, I ended up with way more than she predicted. I don’t know if my muffin tin is much smaller than hers or if I’m underfilling the cups, but I ended up with 21 or 22 cupcakes, where she said I would end up with 18. And, people, this was after consuming some batter. (*Hangs head in shame.*)

Spiced batter

But having extras was no big deal, really, because they were good and they all got eaten anyway.

The cupcakes are not overly sweet, which is nice against the cream cheese icing. But I think I actually preferred my mum’s recipe for Applesauce Cake. It just seemed . . . I don’t know. Lighter? Better? And it could be just as easily converted into a cupcake recipe by putting the batter into muffin tins and decreasing the baking time. (Start checking at about 15 minutes. They should probably take about 20.)

One more thing. The recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups of unsweetened applesauce. That’s 375 mL. A can or jar of applesauce here in Canada is 398 mL, so I just dumped the whole thing in. And it was totally fine, so if you’re worried about that last little bit, just chuck it in.

Cooling

Frosting

Cupcake trio

Applesauce Spice Cupcakes

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves (I didn’t have any and the recipe was just as tasty)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped (I didn’t put these in because my friend is allergic and I really wanted her to eat one)

Preheat the oven to 350. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.

With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and both sugars until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Reduce speed to low. Add applesauce and then flour mixture, beating until just combined after each. Stir in pecans by hand.

Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to two months, in airtight containers.

To finish, use a small offset spatula to spread cupcakes with frosting. Frosted cupcakes can be refrigerated up to three days in airtight containers; bring to room temperature before serving.

Brown-Sugar Cream-Cheese Frosting

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar

With an elecrtic mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter, cream cheese and brown sugar until smooth. Use immediately, or refrigerate up to three days in an airtight container. Before using, bring to room temperature, and beat on low speed until smooth.