January is such a tease. It was so warm last week, as if spring were around the corner, and now it’s freezing again. It makes me want to hibernate and throw myself back into comforting wintry foods, hearty breakfasts, and warm fruits and spices. (I guess it was just wishful thinking that it would warm up so soon…)
Nothing says hearty breakfast like buckwheat pancakes packed with satisfying protein, fiber and nutrients. Buckwheat is actually a fruit seed, not a cereal grain (who knew?). Besides having a delicious, earthy, wholesome taste, it contains nutrients that can help regulate blood sugar and reduce the risk of diabetes, and can also promote cardiovascular health, actually strengthening capillary walls. It also has tons of minerals and antioxidants. In short, it’s packed with good stuff, and all the good stuff finds its way, along with real whole wheat flour, into Hodgson Mill Buckwheat Pancake Mix.
In addition, the pears in the supermarket are so beautiful and plentiful this time of year I couldn’t resist trying to bring the two together. The result is the essence of comfort on a cold winter morning. The pancakes are delicate, moist and fruity, and a dollop of ricotta mixed with honey spooned over the top is a rich, cool contrast. Sparkly, spicy chunks of crystallized ginger on top bring out the earthy buckwheat and mellow sweet pear flavors.
The pancakes come together so quickly with this mix – just mix wet ingredients and grated pear, add a cup of pancake mix, and you’re well on your way to having breakfast on the table.
You’ll want to choose a pear that’s ripe and juicy but firm enough to grate. I had the best luck with Bosc pears, but d’Anjou or Bartlett can work, as long as they don’t squish and fall apart when you grate them.
I got the best, most evenly browned pancakes by heating a nonstick pan well on medium-high heat and adding just a skim of butter. If your pancakes are mottled, you might need to cut back on the amount of butter in your pan, or try adding another tablespoon of milk to the batter, stirring until combined, and then let it sit for a minute or two before trying again.
(Look how gorgeously brown it gets. It tastes as delicious as it looks.)
While testing this recipe, I made one batch of pancakes with the chopped, crystallized ginger mixed into the pancake batter, but decided the spicy ginger chunks were just too much of a surprise next to the delicate pancake crumb. I like the combo much better with the ginger sprinkled on top. (I sometimes go a bit crazy trying to figure out how to combine flavors. But hopefully it’s helpful to you when you try for yourself!) If you don’t like the chunks of crystallized ginger–they can be a bit intense—add a little dried ground ginger to the batter, or to the honey ricotta topping. That way you get to keep the spicy ginger flavor without changing the pancake’s texture.
Until spring finally makes its rightful debut, I’m going to keep warm and cozy and keep eating these pancakes.
Pear Buckwheat Pancakes with Honey, Ricotta and Ginger
1 pear (I used Bosc, but d’Anjou and Bartlett could also work)
1 Tablespoon butter, melted
2 Tablespoons honey
¾ cup milk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup Hodgson Mill Buckwheat Pancake mix
½ teaspoon ground ginger (optional)
Honey Ricotta Topping
1 cup Ricotta cheese (I used reduced-fat)
2 Tablespoons honey, plus more for drizzling
2 Tablespoons crystallized ginger, finely chopped (optional)
Melt butter; add milk, egg, honey and vanilla. Using the large holes of a grater, grate pear and add to wet ingredients. Mix well. Add buckwheat pancake mix (and ground ginger, if using) and stir until combined – there should be no dry mix left. Do not over mix.
Let batter sit 5 minutes to thicken. Batter will be thick. If it is too thick to pour, add 1 more tablespoon of milk and stir gently, then let rest 1 minute.
Warm up a pan or griddle over medium heat. Melt one half teaspoon of butter and spread it all over the pan with a spatula. Pour batter by the 1/4 cup onto the pan. Cook first side for 1-2 minutes, or until edges start to look dry and bubbles appear on top. Turn over. Cook until both sides are browned to your liking. Do not pat down the pancakes, as that will make them dense.
Remove from pan; serve hot with Honey Ricotta Topping (see below), and finely chopped crystallized ginger, and drizzle with honey if you wish.
To make Honey Ricotta Topping: in a bowl, whisk together ricotta and honey until well combined. Keep chilled until serving.
Notes: Makes about 2 servings or 8 or 9 5-6” pancakes. I recommend not keeping unbaked batter, but to cook pancakes, refrigerate tightly sealed, and gently reheat later