Thursday, March 6, 2014

Do you like pancakes?

Here’s a culinary mystery if there ever was one: why, exactly, do we eat cake for breakfast?
Not literal cake; just cake-like items, like pancakes (lightly sweetened cakes cooked in a fry pan and then drenched in maple syrup), waffles (similar, but with a higher fat content to ensure crispiness), French toast (batter-coated slices of bread which are fried and, of course, drenched in maple syrup), and more. The sugar isn’t limited to these weekend specialties, either. Breakfast cereals, like cocoa puffs and the legendary Oreo-O’s. 

Oreo's Cheerio-esque cereal
Okay, that's it. I'm moving to Korea. source

Even granola is usually loaded with oils and sugars, and for good reason—that stuff tastes like shit without it. Some wise health-conscious folks, however, take the route of oatmeal. Yo, that high-class gruel has got some serious fiber and protein and heart-healthy sparkle to it. 

vegan pumpkin spice oatmeal, via Healthy. Happy. Life.
Important note: Healthy Happy Life is awesome. source

Wait. Pumpkin pie oatmeal? Okay then. I’m cool with that.

vegan chocolate oatmeal, via Chocolate Covered Katie
What is it with vegan blogs and flavored oatmeal? source

Chocolate oatmeal? Are you kidding? Dude, that sounds…awesome. Like…hot, chewy, chocolate-ish pudding. Okay. Okay.
In short, the Internets are a veritable gold mine of dessert-flavored oatmeal recipes, and if that’s your cup of tea, I don’t know what you are doing here when you could be finding the other 99,998 varieties out there on the World Wide Web. But that’s not my point here. My point is that there are 100,000 more recipes for smoothies—green smoothies, banana smoothies, watermelon smoothies, yogurt smoothies. I’m sure there are some body-building hippies out there choking down carrot-kale-tomato smoothies with a glass of raw egg whites, but most smoothies are filled with sugar, or at least sugar-containing foods (such as bananas or dates).
Take any of those recipes or ideas or food-like concepts and imagine yourself eating them at lunchtime, or at dinner with a glass of wine. Or milk. If you don’t drink wine, I mean.
No cigar, eh?
While most Americans have grown up with these foods, I still find our array of sweet breakfast foods baffling. Even if you don’t select a syrupy pancake or a fruit-based smoothie, you’ll most likely end up with some other traditional “breakfast food”, like eggs, toast (often served with a sweet jam), or bacon. Bagels and grits, which can both be savory foods, are still filled with sugar-like simple carbohydrates, even if they do not taste sweet. Why do we have specific social guidelines as to what foods are acceptable in the morning, but not permitted in the evening?
Yes, I know, it is acceptable to eat pancakes in the evening when at home. But I imagine that is not an everyday pattern, unlike the meal of breakfast itself.
So, to show my rebellious stripes, I have recently adopted a deviant new breakfast plan, one that invigorates the body and pleases the palate without following the conformist traditions normally enforced at the morning table. I’ve started eating dinner for breakfast. *duh-duh-duuuuuhhh*
Thus far, I have eaten everything from leftover pasta to salads (with plenty of hot sauce) to leftover curry (with plenty of hot sauce) to sandwiches (with, of course, plenty of hot sauce). Shocking! Scandalous! And yet, I feel the same. I may have to brush my teeth extra well to remove any traces of cayenne or garlic from my breath or flecks of spinach from my teeth, but it is no different from ordinary post-lunchtime hygiene. Honestly, I can no longer understand the logic behind sweet breakfast meals. Sure, they taste delicious, but why do they exist?
One of the proponents of a rich breakfast was the American author and nutritionist Adelle Davis, who supposedly once said, “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper.” While I can’t say that Ms. Davis herself was the best health advocate, her quote is supported by recent studies saying that eating cake for breakfast—or more precisely, dessert foods and other energy-dense items—can help promote weight loss in obese subjects. Frankly, I think the logic behind the conclusion is almost common sense: if you satisfy your desire to eat cake early in the day, you won’t eat as much of it later. But it’s a stretch to believe that humans’ early morning eating habits have evolved to assist in exercising moderation late in the day. After all, cultures throughout history have not enjoyed the influx of food we have today, yet many countries from many diverse cultures eat sweet breakfasts, from chocolate porridge in the Philippines to croissants in France.

chocolate croissant
Yeah, the French have good taste. source

So I’ll conclude this oversized tangent by saying that no, I cannot make a conclusion about why exactly these deliciously sweet breakfast foods have become a staple in our culinary repertoire, nor can I make a conclusion about why my classmates stay away from my morning curry breath after breakfast. But I will say this: pancakes are flipping awesome.

Leslie Knope with her waffles
Sorry, Leslie Knope. source

From what I have written, I may seem like a bitter old hipster who refuses to engage in any activity considered the least bit mainstream. Quite the contrary. As a true fan of cake, I will always take the opportunity to enjoy cake, whether it is on a lazy Saturday morning or in the evening, when I finally have time to break out the flour and fry up some batter. And like the opportunistic pleasure-seeker I am, I have recently made it my mission to try every pancake recipe on this planet. Granted, there are almost as many pancake varieties as there are oatmeal varieties, but I think I’ve gotten pretty far. I’ve done the basics—buttermilk, blueberry, and chocolate chip—and some unique flavor combinations—bacon peanut butter, carrot cake, pumpkin—and then some really exotic varieties based off of entirely new batter structures—like ricotta pancakes and bread pudding pancakes.
I may not know why we eat pancakes, but that doesn’t stop me.
One disadvantage of frequently consuming pancakes is the lack of nutritional value. As a (younger) child, I recall eating platefuls of pancakes soaked in maple syrup, only to a) fall into a food coma and b) emerge an hour later, stomach growling. Obviously. White flour and sugar don’t exactly fill the belly. I have learned that in some cases, white whole wheat flour can be substituted in the place of all-purpose for a few extra nutrients, but not in all—and if all else fails, topping pancakes with a bit of yogurt alongside some good old liquid saccharides can help stave off hunger an hour or so longer. 

Ad Hoc: for temporary relief from hunger
Thomas Keller knows how to get repeat business, y'all. source

But nothing has the power to satisfy more than a big plate of cake that tastes like a dessert but is still socially acceptable to eat for breakfast. Take this particular plate. 

photograph of greenish mint chocolate chip pancakes with a disturbing (yet delicious) smear of chocolate sauce on top
Check out my sexy photography. Brought to you by my mother's iPhone.

Mint chocolate chip. Cake reminiscent of that nostalgia-inducing ice cream flavor, drowned in not maple syrup but hot fudge sauce. Cool mint, rich and deep chocolate. Lots of chocolate chips. Well hot damn, if that ain’t exactly what I was looking for in a pancake.

raw pancake batter + chocolate chips
Notice: chocolate chips. Very important. 

Yes, there are already mint chocolate chip pancake recipes in existence, but I felt that the world could use another variation of these delightful eggnog pancakes from the Vegan Cookbook Aficionado. After making the impossibly fluffy and light holiday nog-flavored pancakes, I knew that the batter had the potential to do great things. I am sure similar batters exist, but his baking powder-loaded creation was what came to me first, and so be it.
Wow. This is something. I’m a real profeshunal food blahger now, aren’t I? Well, here’s the recipe. 

Mint Chocolate Chip Pancakes
250 grams ● white whole wheat flour ● 2 cups
14 g ● baking powder ● 1 tablespoon
3 g ● salt  ½ teaspoon
28 to 40 g ● brown sugar ● 2 to 3 tablespoons
243 g ● soy milk ● 1 cup
210 g ● cream (such as canned coconut milk or soy cream 7/8 cup
10 g ● apple cider vinegar ● 2 teaspoons
28 g ● vegetable oil ● 2 tablespoons
8 g ● vanilla extract ● 1 teaspoon
to taste ● green food coloring
3 g ● peppermint extract ● ¾ teaspoon
3 g ● finely chopped fresh mint (optional) ● 2 tablespoons
84 g ● nondairy chocolate chips ● ½ cup 


Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together brown sugar, soy milk, cream, vinegar, oil, vanilla, peppermint extract, and green food coloring. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir gently just until combined. Fold in mint and chocolate chips.

Fry in a pan buttered with any non-butter item, such as mint-infused coconut oil or, if you’re like me, canola oil from an aerosol can. Slather the resulting pancakes with chocolate sauce. You can use the recipe below, or you can use store-bought sauce. I won’t judge. I won’t even judge if you use that Hershey’s stuff, which isn’t vegan, but whatever. We can all make our own choices.


Now, here’s an important note: If you, like me, are a selfish pancake whore, feel free to divide the recipe by four to serve a single (ravenous) person. The bowl above is filled with ½ cup flour, 1 scant teaspoon baking powder, 1/8 teaspoon salt, ¼ cup soy milk, ¼ scant cup (homogenized) coconut milk, ½ teaspoon apple cider vinegar, ½ tablespoon oil, ¼ teaspoon vanilla, and 2 tablespoons chocolate chips (the gram measurements should be fairly easy to divide if you wish to do so). My inner pancake-hoarding greed compels me to do this often; so as a rule of thumb, divide the recipe until you have a base of about 1/3 cup flour. Because pancakes are so flexible, it’s not critical that you weigh out every ingredient to the tenth of a gram and thus it is very, very easy to whip up a batch for one.
My family hates when I do this.
And here, for your consuming pleasure, is a recipe for vegan chocolate fudge sauce. Plot twist: it’s not my recipe! Mwahaha! Actually, none of the recipes I plan on posting are mine, solely, as they are based off of the millions of other recipes across the Interwebz. Click this link and you shall find the premade recipe that I, the glorious and tasteful June Baby, deemed worthy for use. (Disclaimer: I used maple syrup instead of chocolate syrup in my particular syrup, as my family doesn’t buy agave nectar. But it’s okay. Don’t cry.) Add some butter to that shit, too. Earth Balance, if that’s your thing.
I mean, not literal shit. I know. I tried to make it look good. I really did. But I was hungry. You don’t fuck with a hungry chick’s pancakes for more than thirty seconds, tops.
Moral of the story: cake and chocolate sauce for breakfast. That’s all.

vegan mint chocolate chip pancakes, from another angle
Be true to you, pancakes. That's all we can ever ask.


  1. Oh my goshhhh I want your pancakes, mint and chocolate for breakfast? YUM MUCH :D

    Choc Chip Uru