I unfortunately inherited my dad’s penchant for strange pancake add-ins. When we were kids, my dad worked 4 ten-hour shifts during the week, giving him Fridays at home. Since both my parents worked at dawn most days, my sister and brother and I were used to getting ourselves out of bed and out the door without the benefit of parental interference. On Fridays, however, our dad insisted on arbitrating the sleepy bickering among the 3 of us, and he also insisted on making us breakfast. This mostly consisted of shoving a meticulously-wrapped “eggie samwich” into our objecting hands as we walked out the door. We were terribly thankless when it came to his breakfasts then (being a teenager is a hapless endeavor), but I would give my left foot for one of my dad’s egg sandwiches now. He was a terrific cook, and I owe most of my cooking sense to him. He had his gifts – eggs, for instance, and any kind of meat – but he severely lacked in his abilities in the bread department. More than once, we had to put out the fire on a flaming loaf of French bread. Most of his baking attempts were usurped by his stubbornness when it came to following a recipe. And my dad’s pancakes…well, his pancakes were awful. The batter was overworked and lacked balance (“winging it” usually meant he would add too much of one ingredient and would have to compensate with another), and he always, always, always stirred stuff into the batter that would make the pancakes taste weird. I’m sure there’s a cook somewhere who’s figured out how to make a mean strawberry pancake using strawberry jelly, but my dad, who had not, did it without discretion. It was wildly disappointing to be forced to sit down to a chewy, strange-tasting stack of mystery pancakes. Because of this, I became a pancake aficionado at the age of 8. I also vowed never to put jelly into my pancake batters. As the years have passed, however, and the prospect of making plain old pancake batter just doesn’t do it for me anymore, I’ve started breaking my own rules. My husband has whined on more than one occasion that he “just wants regular!” Pumpkin, bananas, chocolate, berries, apples, cinnamon, oats…that doesn’t even include the strange ingredients I use to substitute for the ones I don’t like using, like vegetable oil. And let’s not forget that my dairy-free kid requires all new recipes! Suffice it to say I could use a reminder every once in a while to just stick to plain.
That’s why, when pancakes were decided upon for our Saturday breakfast, my husband was terribly disappointed he couldn’t argue his pregnant wife out of her insistence on making chocolate banana pancakes. I felt a pang of guilt (and had a wave of memories wash over me re: my dad’s breakfasts) but I still plunged ahead and got the chocolate out. Thankfully for all of us, they turned out awesome. I checked the “I-told-you-so” that was threatening to leap out of my mouth every time my husband “mmmm”d and basked in the delight of chocolate for breakfast.
2 c whole-grain white flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/3 c unsweetened cocoa powder
4 ripe bananas, mashed
2 c sour almond milk* OR 2 c buttermilk
2 tbsp coconut oil, melted OR 2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp ground flax
*To make sour almond milk, pour 2 tsp white or apple cider vinegar into a glass measuring cup and fill to the 2-cup mark with almond milk. Allow to sit for 5 minutes before using.
Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder. Add remaining ingredients and whisk together until batter is fully incorporated. Scoop by 1/2-cup increments onto a hot greased skillet over medium-low heat; flip pancake when bubbles are fairly diffuse over entire pancake. Remove pancake from heat when the top of it springs back to the touch. Serve hot with maple syrup. Makes 10 large pancakes.