These hearty-yet sweet pancakes make for a nostalgic treat worthy of a Sunday morning breakfast with friends and family. Time for another Recipe Redux post! For this month’s challenge, we were encouraged to think back to some of our first cooking memories: Stir up some of your earliest culinary recollections. Did you stand at your grandmother’s elbow to learn to cook? Or did you learn by stumbling through a cookbook by yourself? Share a healthy recipe and the accompanying story about one of your first cooking memories.
This month’s Recipe Redux challenge comes at a very reflective time in my life. When I moved out to Boston for college, I had no idea about the strong friendships I would make, the job opportunities that would just open up, and the cute guy at a concert that I would end up marrying. Now that life is starting to settle down, I’ve found myself stopping and realizing how quickly these past seven years have just flown by. And that’s a good thing – I have no regrets! – but I also still find myself walking up in the morning and craving to be back in my family’s log cabin in the mountains of Colorado with a big pile of chocolate chip pancakes in front of me.
While I always loved being in the kitchen, my earliest memories are of baking cookies with my mom and helping make pancakes with my dad or grandpa. I was lucky enough to spend almost every weekend growing up in the mountains. And besides getting to swim in the lake and go hiking through the forests with my friends, one of my favorite parts of going up to the cabin was having chocolate chip pancakes on Sunday morning.
Most weekends, pancake making was my dad’s responsibility, but there was always something extra special about the pancakes my grandpa would make when he was out visiting. While the singing while he flipped them definitely added to the experience, his true trick was actually a secret ingredient: almond extract. Later I would learn that almond extract is very common in Norwegian sweets and breakfast items, so he likely picked it up from his parents as he was full-blood Norwegian. And its impressive how just this small addition adds such a depth of flavor and gives even a box mix a homemade taste.
While I wasn’t given pancake-flipping responsibilities until I was a bit older and more coordinated, I always had the very important role of chocolate chip placer. My dad or grandpa would scoop the pancake batter onto the hot griddle pan and I would quickly, but usually methodically, add chocolate chips to each pancake. It was an even more important job when we were lucky enough to get Mickey Mouse pancakes as then I had to make sure to make the face just right and add a few to each ear.
Slowly over time I moved up in responsibility to making the batter (usually Krustez or Bisquick) to finally flipping the pancakes. And being the control freak that I am, when I was able to flip the pancakes it meant I wanted to be completely in control of the pancakes from whisking the batter to distributing chocolate chips to flipping. And thank goodness I got good at it as Bry loves a relaxing Sunday pancake breakfast as much as I do!
With the goal of being healthier, I tend to use berries instead of chocolate chips now and whole wheat flour rather than a white flour mix, but the love that comes with a stack of pancakes is still there in every bite. However, in the spirit of nostalgia, these pancakes are sprinkled with chocolate chips and given a splash of almond extract. I did make my own mix using whole wheat flour and oatmeal, and while it is healthier than the standard pancake mix, it was more due to the fact that I wanted something a little cozier to transport me back to the warmth of sitting in my family’s cabin.
So here’s a toast to all the chocolate-chip-placers out there!
Whole Grain Chocolate Chip Pancakes
- 2 large eggs
- 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
- 3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 3/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
- 1 cup white whole wheat flour
- 1/2 cup original oats
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp almond extract
- 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
- Warm skillet to medium-low.
- Meanwhile, whisk eggs and oil in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Next, stir in Greek yogurt and almond milk until well combined.
- Slowly stir in flour, oats, salt, and baking powder until just combined - it's okay if there are a few lumps!
- Add in almond extract and give one final stir.
- Using 1/4 cup, drop pancake batter on to pre-heated skillet. Sprinkle chocolate chips over each pancake. Once the bubbles on top of the pancake start to pop flip the pancake over and cook another couple minutes, or until the bottom side turns a pretty golden brown.
- Place cooked pancake in a plate covered with foil and repeat with remaining batter.