Monday, February 7, 2011

Lightened Up Ricotta Pancakes

One of my all time favorite foods is buttermilk pancakes.  I tend to think of myself as a pancake snob.  I grew up with my mom making pancakes from scratch - No mix.  From scratch.  Fluffy, tender buttermilk pancakes.  From scratch.  I tend not to order them at a restaurant because 99.99999% of the time, I'm disappointed and really annoyed that I wasted my calories on bad pancakes!

Over the years I've tried different variations of pancakes - Sweet potato pecan and banana chocolate chip, to name a couple.  Lately I've been hearing or reading a lot about ricotta pancakes, so I felt it was a sign that I should finally make them (not to mention it was a great way to use up my almost expired ricotta cheese!).  :)  With all this snow and cold we've been having lately, I've been craving warm, hearty breakfasts during the week.  I usually try to have light breakfasts on weekdays and keep the pancakes for the weekends.  However, since ricotta pancakes are made with whipped egg whites they are lighter than most buttermilk pancakes.  Last Friday was the perfect time to make them.  They come together pretty quickly so I was able to make them before sitting down on my sofa to work from home.  :)

I modified the recipe I found on Williams Sonoma which called for ricotta cheese and milk.  I assumed both the cheese and milk were the full fat version, so I used fat free instead.  Also, this recipe makes 12 - 14 pancakes, but I stretched mine to make 20.  Topped with a blueberry sauce I made (about 25 calories for 1 T), these end up being around 300 calories per serving (3 pancakes and 2 T of blueberry sauce).

These pancakes are light and fluffy and the lemon zest adds a nice, clean flavor.  The blueberry sauce is sweet, without being overly-sweet, which compliments the tanginess of lemon in the pancakes.

Yield: about 20 pancakes
For the blueberry sauce:
6 oz blueberries, rinsed and drained
2 T sugar
1 1/2 t cornstarch
1 1/2 t cold water
For the pancakes:
1 cup fat free ricotta cheese
1 cup skim milk
3 large eggs, separated
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1½ cups cake flour*
1 tbsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
¼ cup sugar
*You can substitute ¾ cup all-purpose flour plus 2 tablespoons of cornstarch per 1 cup of cake flour.
To make the blueberry sauce, combine the blueberries and sugar in a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the berries begin to release some of their juices and the mixture is simmering.  Combine the cornstarch and water in a small bowl; whisk until smooth.  Add the cornstarch mixture to the blueberries and mix well.  Reduce the heat to medium and let cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture comes to a low boil and thickens slightly.  Remove from the heat and keep warm if desired.  The sauce will thicken slightly as it cools.
Unfortunately, this picture doesn't do the sauce justice.  It's a beautiful blue but you can't really tell against the red tablecloth background.  :(
To make the pancakes, combine the ricotta, milk, egg yolks, lemon zest and lemon juice in a large mixing bowl.  Whisk to combine.  Add in the cake flour, baking powder and salt and mix just until incorporated.  In another clean, dry mixing bowl, beat the egg whites on medium-low speed until foamy.  Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and continue to beat, adding the sugar gradually, until medium-soft peaks form.
Fold one third of the egg white mixture into the ricotta mixture with a spatula until completely incorporated.  Add in the remaining egg whites and fold in gently until the mixture is smooth and light.

Heat a griddle or skillet over medium heat.  Grease as needed.  Ladle a scant ½ cup of batter onto the cooking surface for each pancake.  Allow to cook until bubbles begin to form on the top surface.  Use a large spatula to carefully flip the pancake and cook the other side until light golden and cooked through.  Repeat with the remaining batter.  If desired, keep finished pancakes warm in a 200˚ F oven until all the batter is cooked.  Serve warm with fresh blueberry sauce.
Source: pancakes from Williams Sonoma, blueberry sauce is a CB (Cate's Bites) original
Nutrition info (per pancake): 77 calories, 2g fat, 3.6g protein.  2T of sauce: 52 calories, 0.1g fat, 1g fiber, 0.3g protein

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