Who knew that February 24, 2009 would offer up so many reasons to celebrate? Per my blog archives, I've made it quite clear that I am a sweet potato fanatic and would gladly eat them every day, so I think that any day in February, a.k.a. National Sweet Potato month, is worthy of a party. The 24th, however, goes above and beyond by being not only International Pancake Day but Mardi Gras as well. Laissez les bons temps rouler indeed!
Today's recipe was inspired by this trifecta of foodie-friendly festivities. Instead of singling out just one, I decided to combine all three in a Bourbon Street meets North Carolina meets....um...I guess IHOP type of dish.
Other than traditional holiday pies, people generally don't tend to think of using sweet potatoes in their desserts or breakfast treats. In reality, sweet potatoes are the perfect ingredient for these sorts of dishes. Take these pancakes, for example. Sweet potatoes contribute a natural sweetness (thus the name), a moist texture, and a pretty orange hue. Sweet potatoes are also a fantastic way to sneak all sorts of nutritious things like potassium, beta carotene, iron, and fiber into your family's breakfast. Don't worry--your secret is safe with me!
Sure, you could celebrate International Pancake Day by running down to your local chain pancake shop and ordering up a short stack that may.... or may not be freshly made to order. OR you could whip up a batch of these lightly sweetened fluffy pancakes in the time that it takes you to drive to the restaurant (and you'll save on gas money too!) Mardi Gras makes an appearance in the form of brown sugar, rum, and toasty pecans, mimicking the flavors of the praline, one of N'Awlins' most popular sweets. Here are my extra tips for these festive February flapjacks:
- If you have time, bake the sweet potato at 400F degrees for about 1 hour. Prior to baking, prick it several times with a fork and wrap it in foil. If you are short on time, you can microwave the sweet potato for 10-12 minutes, turning once. To keep the sweet potato from drying out in the microwave, wrap it in a piece of paper towel so that it gets "steamed" during the microwave process.
- I find that the easiest way to get a smooth sweet potato puree is to use a mini chopper or a food processor. Sometime using a potato masher leaves lumps or strands.
- If you are making several batches of these pancakes and want to serve them all at once, place the prepared pancakes on a baking sheet and keep them warm in a 200F degree oven.
- If you don't want to use rum in your recipe, you can substitute vanilla extract.
Sweet Potato Praline Pancakes
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 cup sweet potato puree (from 1 medium baked sweet potato)
3 large eggs, separated
1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 tablespoon dark rum
1/2 cup chopped lightly toasted pecans, plus more for serving
Pure maple syrup
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, whole wheat flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and salt. In a medium bowl, mix together the buttermilk, sweet potato puree, egg yolks, brown sugar, melted butter, and rum. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined.
In a clean medium bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gently fold the egg whites into the pancake batter. Fold in the chopped pecans.
Spray a griddle or a large skillet with nonstick cooking spray and place over medium heat. Working in batches, pour the batter by 1/3-cupfuls onto the griddle. Cook the pancakes until bubbles start to form on top, about 2 minutes. Carefully turn the pancakes over and cook until the bottoms are golden brown, 1-2 minutes more. Transfer the pancakes to plates and serve with pure maple syrup and a sprinkle of pecans.