Valentine’s Pancakes

Mr T and I had a really nice (homemade) Valentine’s date last night: we made dinner together 

I made him a card this week on which I painted two cute little watercolour robots on the front and gave him the recipe for Red Velvet Pancakes that I had found over at Café Zupas and we set a time to meet to prepare dinner.

My Mom had sent me the instructions for making your own buttermilk earlier in the day (apparently it’s just 1 tbsp lemon juice or vinegar + enough milk to make 1 cup  and then you let it stand for 5 min) but I was late leaving school so I just ended up buying a container. We were also out of yogourt (which I was going to use to substitute for the sour cream the recipe called for) so I needed to stop anyways – in the end I walked out with a container of crème fraîche….yes, I may have decided to splurge…

Mr T arrived home with a beautiful potted orchid in his hands which was so awesome (I love orchids and although I like flowers I prefer potted plants because they last longer…well, sometimes).

The recipe was pretty straightforward:

1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 large egg
¾ cup buttermilk
¼ cup sour cream (we used crème fraîche instead)
1 teaspoon red food colour (we used beet juice…see comment below)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (I was a bit more liberal with the vanilla…again, see comment below)

I was not particularly interested in using red food colouring because (1) rumour has it that it’s pretty bad for you; and (2) we didn’t have any in the apt and I wasn’t going to buy a whole container just to use 1tsp of it! (yes, I realize this last point doesn’t match up with my going out and buying buttermilk and crème fraîche but I have plans for those for later this week…) So I had Googled “natural red dye” and read all sorts of suggestions and got it in my head that I could use beets. Even better: we had this random can of sliced beets in the cupboard that’s been there for ages (I have no idea where we got it) and so I thought this would be perfect. It wasn’t. I threw several tbsp of the beet juice in plus I chopped up 2 of the slices and threw them in too – I would have kept going but Mr T stopped me and pointed out that the batter wasn’t getting any redder and that the canned beets just couldn’t compete with the cocoa powder.

So I gave up on the colouring and we cooked them up like normal pancakes – except that we tried heart shapes (thanks to J2 for this idea)! The recipe made 4 giant heart-shaped pancakes plus 2 small ones. The first two cooked up like normal pancakes but I almost burnt the next ones because they didn’t bubble in the centre so I didn’t know to flip them… We served them with blueberries and maple syrup. I had also picked up one of those mini pre-cooked hams for Mr T as a surprise so he had that on the side and we both had spinach salads with tomatoes (the thought of chocolate pancakes with syrup and nothing else just didn’t sit well with us). Mr T said the ham and pancakes and maple syrup all reminded him of a very Québécois meal (which may also have been influenced by the bottle of Fin du Monde that we had).

I’ll admit though that as we were sitting down to eat I started saying “please just don’t let them taste like beets” over and over again – but my worries were unfounded: they ended up very rich tasting, and definitely chocolate-y.

(I wasn’t sure what category to put this post in because pancakes are a breakfast food but we ate them for dinner…I’ve decided on “dinner” and “brunch” because in all honesty they’re quite rich so I can’t see them as a breakfast food – but they would suit a nice brunch)

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