Waffles are such a delight. I was late to this particular way of cooking batter and didn’t get to try my first one until I visited Ghent a few years ago. There’s more to Belgium than just chocolate, I found. Waffles abounded and they were just fabulous. I finally realised what I’d been missing out on all this time. These light and crisp waffles, served with a perfumed rhubarb and rose compote and a pillowy cloud of gently scented rose cream will save you the cost of a pilgrimage to Waffleland.
Despite my love of chocolate, cakes, biscuits, puddings and most things sweet, I do not, as it may seem, indulge all day long or even every day. Most of the time, I try to eat healthily. One of our regular breakfast ingredients is kefir, which CT has been making for many years now. We drink it as it is, use it in smoothies, on muesli and add it to porridge. I woke up one Sunday morning thinking, why don’t I try making pancakes out of it – not a revolutionary idea I’m sure, but I’d not thought of it before. Spiced kefir pancakes with manuka honey and crème fraîche chocolate sauce it was then.
This recipe for chocolate cake waffles is a little unusual, but none the worse for that. The waffles are at their best served warm with lemon curd and strawberries. Whipped cream makes them even more delicious and decadent. Best eaten for a special occasion dessert.
Just in case anyone’s missed it, today is Shrove Tuesday, otherwise known as Pancake Day or in French, Mardi Gras, meaning Fat Tuesday. Shrove Tuesday is an important day in the Christian calendar, being the last day before Ash Wednesday when Lent begins. Traditionally, it is a day of celebration and feasting when all of the good things in the house are eaten up to make way for the long Lenten fast, including butter, eggs and milk. As we know, butter eggs and milk (with a little flour) make pancakes. So it’s easy to see how a tradition of making pancakes on Shrove Tuesday came about – reckoned to be at some point in the Middle Ages.
Tossing pancakes is all part of the fun. If you’re feeling energetic as a result of all those carbs, you can burn them off in a traditional pancake race: pancakes are carried in a frying pan and tossed at the start and finish of the race, with points given for the best flip. I was surprised to learn that the first one recorded was as far back as 1445 in Olney, Buckinghamshire.
The day cannot go unmarked and in time honoured tradition, I made pancakes for breakfast. In a slightly less traditional approach, I added cocoa and banana to my batter – more Mardi Gras in sunny Rio than in grey rainy Cornwall. The recipe for cocoa Scotch pancakes I’ve adapted from a new arrival on my bookshelf, Chocolate by Jennifer Donovan. A review will follow. As usual, I decided to go my own way: due to a surfeit of bananas, I substituted one for the sugar and also added a little cinnamon.
This is how I made:
Chocolate Banana Scotch Pancakes
- Whizzed a banana into 250ml milk with a hand held blender.
- Sifted 250g flour (half wholemeal, half white) into a bowl together with 1 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp maca powder (for a mini health kick) and 1 tbsp cocoa powder.
- Made a well in the centre and added a duck egg (can use large hen’s egg).
- Stirred from the centre outward gradually adding the milk and incorporating the flour until all is well mixed.
- Heated a frying pan over medium heat and added a small knob of butter.
- Placed spoonfuls of batter on the frying pan and left to cook for a a couple of minutes or so, until bubbles started to appear on the surface of the batter.
- Flipped the pancakes over and cooked for a further minute.
- Kept warm in the oven until the batter was finished.
- Served with nectarines and maple syrup.
It’s not often we manage pancakes for breakfast on Shrove Tuesday, but fate was with us today. CT reckoned the pancakes were robust and hearty and not too sweet, just what was needed to set him up for the day. They had a real taste of the tropics with the chocolate and cinnamon flavours coming through loud and strong and the banana a faint undertow. I was really pleased I didn’t add any sugar to the mix as the pancakes were quite sweet enough from the banana and we were able to add maple syrup to suit individual preferences. The nectarines made for a surprisingly good combination and were a perfect foil for the carbohydrate laden pancakes giving freshness, acidity and added flavour.
There is still time to join in the pancake fun with Sainsbury’s who are offering four prizes for the best Twitter Pancake Selfie. Just tweet a photo of your pancake to @SainsburyPR and @Sainsburys including the hashtag #SainsbosPelfie by midnight on Tuesday 4th March. You will need to follow them both on Twitter too.
Occasionally, CT likes to explore his Welsh heritage. When we woke up this morning, he announced, “it’s the 1st of March, St David’s Day. Why don’t we have leeks?”. Well why not indeed. With Shrove Tuesday fast approaching, pancakes were on my mind and I’d been planning to make some for breakfast, so why not make them savoury. In fact, why not go one step further and make Welsh pancakes.
To me waffles have always seemed the height of elegance and sophistication. I’ve never eaten them here in the UK, but I have fond memories of the light and crispy delights offered to us at elegant establishments in Europe. On our visit to Ghent we had them served mit slagroom. Slagroom for the uninitiated is the Flemish for whipped cream. Jolly delicious they were too.
I think of waffles as a 3D pancake, with their neat little reservoirs which hold lots of butter, cream, syrup or whatever else you fancy to shorten your life. When I was sent some silicone waffle moulds from Lékué to try out, it didn’t take me long to drop those eggs and flour into a bowl and start mixing.
My enthusiasm for Lékué remains unchecked with this, the third product I have tried. You can read my previous posts on the bundt mould and the bread maker by clicking on the links. Having used silicone bakeware for years, I have experience of the good and the bad. The performance of cheap silicone moulds I’ve used in the past really isn’t that good. Thin material results in uneven baking with the bottoms getting burnt and the batter not being properly cooked. The Lékué silicone is sturdy and you can tell the products are of good quality by the look and feel of them. To boot, they come with a ten year guarantee. The pack contained two moulds, each with 4 waffle patterns. The waffle indentations were well defined and turned out perfect looking waffles. I found the moulds very easy to use and they gave a good result with a fluffy interior and a nice crispy exterior. I was slightly concerned about how easy it would be to release the waffles, but they slipped out of the moulds with no trouble at all. Not only that, but you don’t get all the smoke associated with hot metal, grease and batter – or is that just me?
I’d also been sent some Clarks maple syrup to try out and waffles seemed the perfect vehicle to do so. Just in time for Pancake Day, I was sent four small 180 ml plastic bottles with squirty tops. These were nice and easy to use, though I found the syrup to be rather more liquid than I was expecting. Two were pure maple syrup and two were blended with carob fruit syrup, which seemed a little odd and unnecessary to me. I would rather have my syrup pure and dilute or mix it in whatever way I wish, rather than have it done for me. In this instance, I didn’t want to adulterate the pure syrup and simply drizzled it over some of the waffles and served with a little whipped cream and pomegranate seeds. However, I had designs for the vanilla version, which I thought would help to make a luxurious chocolate sauce. For the chocolate sauce, I was also keen to use some of the premium couverture dark chocolate I’d been sent from Cacao Barry, 70% Ocoa pur noir, which I thought would give a particularly rich and fulsome flavour. The aroma wafting up from the packet was of chocolate, caramel and tobacco and the taste lived up to the promise that these smells evoked with multi layered notes hitting the palate in succession.
As well as using the maple syrup on the waffles and in the sauce and subsequently in a number of other ways, we tried them neat to get a real sense of their individual characters.
Original (blended with carob fruit syrup) – strong smoky, caramel, rich. Wouldn’t want to eat too much at any one time. Very sweet.
Vanilla (blended with carob fruit syrup) – reminded me of cough medicine that I used to have as a child – something I always viewed as a treat. Aromatic, with a strong vanilla flavour. Very sweet. I used this one in the chocolate sauce to good effect.
Pure Canadian (No.1 Medium Grade) – less runny than the previous two and not as overpoweringly sweet. Smoky and tanniny with a drying-in-the-mouth feel. It was this one that we used on our waffles and it worked well.
Pure Canadian (No.2 Amber Grade) – this proved to be my favourite. It was sweeter than No 1 with a more rounded “maple flavour” but still with the tannins coming through.
The moulds came with instructions and a recipe for sweet waffles and one for savoury. The savoury waffles sounded quite delicious with an addition of Parmesan, oregano and paprika. I am quite keen to try these, but for my first attempt I decided to make waffles that were neither sweet nor savoury so we could add the maple syrup and chocolate sauce without them becoming too sweet. I based the batter on the recipe provided, which gave the perfect amount to fill the eight waffle moulds.
|Just out of the oven – see that steam rising?|
This is how I made:
Waffles with a Maple Syrup Chocolate Sauce
- Sprayed the moulds lightly with oil (not something I normally do with silicone, but it is recommended for the first time of use). Placed them on an oven tray.
- Melted 110g unsalted butter in a pan over low heat.
- Sifted 240g flour (half wholemeal spelt, half white) into a bowl with 2 tsp baking powder and a pinch of pink rock salt.
- Made a well in the centre and broke in 3 medium eggs.
- Started stirring this, slowly adding 410 ml milk until a smooth batter had formed.
- Added the butter and stirred until incorporated.
- Ladled the batter into the moulds – there was just enough to completely fill them, but with none left over.
- Baked in the lower half of the oven at 200°C for 10 minutes or until set.
- Removed from the oven and turned out onto the oven tray. Placed back in the oven with the pattern side up for a further 5 minutes or so until the waffles were crisp and golden.
- Melted 150g 70% good quality dark chocolate (Ocoa pur noir) with 200g double cream in a pan over low heat.
- Added 2 tbsp maple syrup and stirred until all incorporated and smooth.
- Poured the warm sauce over the hot waffles and scattered some pomegranate seeds over the top.
We just loved these. Two each was plenty, but very greedily and because we had them for brunch, we polished off all eight of them. Crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside, I shall be making these waffles again very soon. Next time, if there are only two of us, I shall try freezing half of them for a quick and easy breakfast, brunch or dessert another time. The chocolate sauce was indeed rich and quite delicious too with a faint hint of maple that gave it an air of added luxury. Having said that, we also enjoyed eating them with cream and pure maple syrup.
Pancake Day is on the 5th of March. I’m seriously thinking of renaming it Waffle Day. maple syrup is, of course, a must – as is chocolate.
Lékué also sent two fabulous stretchy covers that will fit over various sized containers from a half used tin of tomatoes to, in this instance, a bowl of chocolate sauce. They are also good for covering half eaten pieces of fruit such as an orange or melon. The reusable covers act as temporary lids creating a vacuum seal to keep leftovers fresh – a much better option than clingfilm in my opinion. As there was plenty of chocolate sauce left over, I used one to cover the bowl. It was both easy to put on and easy to take off. The remaining chocolate sauce was used to make the truffle icing for my chocolate Valentine cakes.
Thanks to Lékué for sending me the waffle moulds and stretch tops to try out and to Clarks and Cacao Barry for the maple syrup and chocolate. I was not required to write positive reviews and as always all opinions are my own.
Having seen a a review of the Ozeri Green Earth Frying pan over at Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary with its toxin-free, non-stick qualities, I was keen to try it out for myself. I fell in love with the cheerful lime green colour, despite my desire for only red equipment in my kitchen. I particularly liked its non-polluting environmental credentials. I’ve always been very wary of non-stick cookware and have tried to steer clear of it due to its purportedly toxic nature. Made out of heavy-gauge anodized aluminium for even cooking, the natural ceramic coating on this pan is 100% PTFE and PFOA free, meaning there are no heavy metals or chemicals present. The surface is textured which apparently helps to prevent food sticking and also speeds up cooking times by allowing heat to flow underneath the food. Ozeri claim that the coating is more durable and scratch resistant than other non-stick pans – only time and use will tell on that one.
Breakfast is one of my favourite meals, but unless we’re away on holiday, I tend to stick to toast. This isn’t really a hardship as I make my own rye sourdough which is delicious and it’s also very convenient. But as I’m usually in a rush in the mornings, I rarely get to sit down, so when I can, it is a real treat and always seems worth indulging in something a little different to toast. Talking of sourdough, it’s #SourdoughSeptember, so it’s a good time to acquaint yourself with this ancient and delicious bread.
Pancakes really are a treat, so when I was sent some Orgran gluten free buckwheat pancake mix to try, I hurried into the kitchen and greased the pan. Basically it consists of stonemilled buckwheat, rice flour, tapioca starch, maize starch and raising agents. It contains no added sweeteners, artificial colours, flavours or preservatives. As directed, I added eggs and water to make ranch style pancakes. Directions for vegan or egg free pancakes were also given. I also added some blueberries gathered from my mother’s garden – this year being the first decent crop she’s had.
I learnt that like quinoa, buckwheat is not in fact a grain; it is a member of the rhubarb family which I found intriguing. When relating this to CT, he tried not to be too condescending, but I could detect a certain air of “you ignoramus” in his demeanour.
I knocked up some chocolate sauce to drizzle over the top by combining dark chocolate, double cream and a little honey. I warmed the ingredients up together in a pan over low heat until the chocolate had melted. I then stirred it well until it was properly combined and smooth.
Although these pancakes were delicious, I have to say I don’t really see the point of pancake mixes. Measuring out some flour and raising agent and throwing it into a bowl is really not that difficult. The main part of the process which is mixing in eggs and milk or water has to be done anyway. Because this mix was gluten free, it contained extra ingredients which you might not have to hand, so I’m prepared to give it the benefit of the doubt.
Tea is the best drink of the day and what better accompaniment to breakfast pancakes than this Lemon Green Tea from Pukka – an organic and fairtrade whole leaf sencha tea with lemon verbena and Sicilian lemon which comes in a pack of 20 tea sachets. It was light and refreshing with just a touch of lemon which gave it a nice lift. The scent of lemon rising from the cup helped give CT the fortitude to tackle his stack of pancakes. One sachet made an initial pot for two which we then refilled with water and got another cup each. I can see this becoming a bit of a favourite with us.
Reminiscent of the Kellogg’s variety packs I used to be given as a special treat when I was a young’un, these newly launched Yoosli are a more grown up and health conscious version. This cleverly named muesli selection from Yoosli provides a Monday to Friday breakfast experience delivered to your door via the postal service. Inveterate muesli munchers know it’s nice to have a bit of variety. Designed to fit through your letterbox, this is the ultimate in convenience breakfasts. Letterbox friendly cows have yet to be developed, CT quipped. All ingredients are organic which meant it got bonus points from me and the portion sizes are reasonable. Although I prefer not to have any sugar at breakfast as I generally manage to get plenty during the rest of the day, these were not too sweet. The flavours are really good and a variety of unusual ingredients are used for added interest. I was pleased to see that many of them contained chocolate – what a treat. This is a bit of fun and removes any agonising over what to eat for breakfast, which is fine as long as you are prepared to pay for the privilege in cost and packaging disposal. A weekly subscription costs £3.49.
Neville’s Cranberry Poppy Spelt – This was a crunchy granola which was not too sweet and had a nice flavour with plenty of fruit and nuts, including cranberries and pine nuts. The addition of poppy seeds gave a welcome savoury note which I found very pleasant.
Cassie’s Physalis Choc – The rich aroma of chocolate combined with a fruity scent, made this packet particularly enticing. These are sophisticated cocoa pops with interesting additions which convert an old familiar into something far more appealing. It was lovely and crunchy and the sour bits of physalis and morsels of dark chocolate gave an added piquancy. Again this was not too sweet, thankfully. In fact it was quite delicious and felt like a real holiday indulgence.
I have yet to try the other three varieties, but they sound equally good and going by the first two, they are definitely something to look forward to: Casey’s Milk Choc Chocolatey with dark chocolate, cranberries and macadamia nuts; Neville’s Honey Choc Apple with chocolate and apple-cinnamon clusters; Louis’ Nutty Fruit Porridge with apricot, blueberries and puffed amaranth.
Hot chocolate is an indulgence I very rarely have at breakfast, but it does give a holiday air to proceedings. I’ve often heard about the slabs of Mexican chocolate flavoured with cinnamon used for making drinking chocolate and have been intrigued. So I was really quite excited to get some from the Mex Grocer. There is something about a large disc of solid chocolate that is so much more appealing than a jar of powder.
Chocolate Ibarra came in a heavy pack weighing in at 540g. As the principal ingredient is sugar, this isn’t quite as exciting as it might otherwise be. It consists of six rather attractive hexagonal shaped discs which each make 4 cups of drinking chocolate, 24 cups in total. The smell of chocolate and cinnamon emanating from the opened packet was irresistible. The texture of the solid chocolate is gritty and nothing like a normal bar of chocolate, but although you’re not meant to eat it as such, I found nibbling on it to be quite a pleasant experience.
The directions were to use two triangles per cup, but I wasn’t quite sure how big a cup should be. By using a mug, I suspect I made a weaker version than was intended. Lacking a suitable molinillo, I frothed it up, as suggested, using a hand held blender – it worked very well. The hot chocolate was very sweet and not as rich as I was expecting, but the flavour of cinnamon was delicious. The recommendation was to stir this with a stick of cinnamon and leave it to infuse a while. Next time I cook up a Mexican meal, I’ll be sure to serve a few cups of this and use the cinnamon sticks too.
I was sent these items for review purposes and as always, all opinions are my own.
I love Random Recipes and think Dom of Belleau Kitchen is a genius for coming up with the idea. I’ve been in from the beginning, so it always grieves me when I run out of time and don’t manage to make the challenge. Last month was such a one and I was beginning to panic that this month would turn out the same, but no, I was determined not to miss another month. Dom gave us quite a bit of freedom with this challenge and allowed us to pick our own book, a highly unusual event. I went for my Valentine’s gift from CT (itself a highly unusual occurrence); a chocolate book I have long been lusting after, Chococo chocolate cookbook by Claire Burnet. I closed my eyes and opened the book on a random page, somewhat trepedaciously – you just never quite know what you might be letting yourself in for. Sigh of relief, which then turned to one of excitment: chocolate pancakes platter. I have long wanted to make chocolate pancakes, but somehow have never actually managed it. Fortuitously, I also had a tub of blackcurrants which were in desperate need of using up. My mother’s freezer, not so fortuitously and very upsettingly, packed up unexpectedly. She ended up having to throw most of the food away. By the time we received the currants, they had been out of the freezer some time. So instead of making the cherry compote denoted in the recipe, I made blackcurrant and rose compote instead.
This is how I made:
Chocolate Pancakes with Rose, Mint and Blackcurrant Compote
- Sieved 150g wholemeal flour into a bowl with a scant tsp of baking powder and 30g cocoa powder.
- Stirred in 2 tbsp vanilla (caster) sugar.
- Made a well in the centre and broke in an egg.
- Started to mix from the middle outwards, adding 175 ml milk a little at a time.
- Beat in 20g hazelnut oil (instead of melted butter).
- Left to rest for about 20 minutes whilst I got on with the other things.
- Dry fried a large tbsp of flaked almonds with 1/2 a tsp of icing powder until they were lightly browned and slightly caramelised.
- Turned into a little serving dish.
- Poured the blackcurrants into a pan.
- Didn’t add any sugar as this had already been done.
- Added the last of my rose syrup (about 2 tbsp) which also really needed using up.
- Simmered for a few minutes, then added 2 tbsp mint vodka.
- Simmered for another couple of minutes.
- Heated a frying pan over a medium heat and added a slither of butter.
- Placed a heaped tbsp of pancake mixture into the pan, spreading it out with the spoon to form a circle of about 10 cm.
- Left for a few minutes until bubbles started to appear in the pancake.
- Turned it over and cooked for a couple more minutes.
- Placed on a plate and put into a warm oven.
- Repeated the process making six pancakes in total.
- Assembled the pancakes by layering them with a tbsp of blackcurrant compote and then another pancake.
- Stacked them three pancakes high finishing with a layer of blackcurrants.
- Topped with the almonds and dusted with a little icing sugar.
Random Recipes – the choice is yours. My choice was Chococo.
Kate of Turquoise Lemons has given us Preserves for her monthly No Food Waste Challenge. Blackcurrants preserved from the summer, mint vodka and rose syrup I made back along in need of using up,
The freezer disaster also makes these pancakes eligible for Credit Crunch Munch I reckon along with the homemade rose syrup and mint vodka. A monthly challenge hosted by Fab Food 4 All and Fuss Free Flavours.
As these are American style pancakes, I’m entering them into Bloggers Around the World hosted by Chris of Cooking Around the World. The country of choice this month is USA.
It’s Pancake Day, also known as Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras, which is just a fancy way of saying Fat Tuesday. What could be more fattening than pancakes, especially those filled with chocolate and clotted cream?