April 5, 2011

have it all: lemons, strawberries and chocolate

Having well pulled away from our days of ails, I plotted for a lovely breakfast for us on Sunday, especially since it is the morning after R came back to town after being away from us for a few days. Our lemon tree is still spewing lemons and my palette craved for something citrusy, perhaps yearning for the sparkly bright and cheer that it represents. And not far from my mind were the lemon ricotta pancakes I saw on Patent and the Pantry (I love her food photography, and the way she writes).

The recipe seems easy and straight-forward, which is great, as I do not relish starting my day with something complicated and challenging. I love too her idea of serving the pancakes with macerated strawberries, something I often do (except I always add a splash of rose extract), but then I also really wanted to make again some chocolate butter, which I have adapted off a cookbook called "Comfort: real simple food" by Michele Cranston.

Well, sometimes you don't have to choose. Why not have it all?? So I made the chocolate butter on Saturday, and got to work with the pancakes and strawberries not-so-early Sunday morning.

Frilly lemon zest atop a mountain of ricotta, the sea of orange yolks peeking from below
I cut up the strawberries first, then let them macerate with some sugar, a splash of rose extract and about a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar (it gives the strawberries a glossy look and adds depth to the flavor). The pancakes were easy. I put the egg yolks, ricotta cheese and sugar in a large mixing bowl, then zested the lemons right into the bowl. S helped to mix everything together, then we added the flour and mixed again.

Thankfully, the electric stand mixer took care of the next step of whipping the egg whites till they were stiff enough to form peaks. S always has fun watching the egg whites transform: from a pool of translucent liquid to an ocean of frothy bubbles, then changing into a white swirly mass before it begins to rise into graceful peaks. And once the whites were incorporated into the rich, yellow batter, the pancakes were ready to be cooked. I used rice bran oil with some butter added (rice bran oil has a high smoking point and helps stabilize the butter so it does not brown or burn too easily), and soon enough we were enjoying our pancakes!

I wish I had taken the time to take some glorious pictures of the pancakes, that cooked fast and easy, with a nice brown edge (courtesy of good old butter). They rose pretty high and were so light and fluffy. You can eat a dozen and then eat another dozen. (If you want to see pretty, delicious and mouth-watering pictures of these yummy pancakes, head over here.) The first pancakes were immediately served onto plates for everyone, who immediately dug in. First, we tried just the pancakes with strawberries to savor the marriage of flavors that arise from the nicely tart lemons and the sweet strawberries. Then for the following round, chocolate butter was slathered over the pancakes, and eaten with the juicy strawberries. And that was perfection. If you ever have any doubt that lemons and chocolates do not go well together, this combination of lemon ricotta pancakes with chocolate butter will change your mind within seconds! Of course, you wouldn't want to forgo the strawberries either... ...

Excuse the dirty fork, but it was happy to be smeared with chocolate!
And so, if you don't have the courage to plunge right into lemon-chocolate cookies, this pancakes with chocolate butter may just ease you into it. Below is the lemon-ricotta pancake recipe (which I had doubled, and served our family of five perfectly) followed by that of the chocolate butter. Enjoy!!

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

Gwendolyn's recipe, which was adapted from the Alberta Egg Producers

  • 8 eggs, separated
  • 2 cups ricotta cheese (I used full milk)
  • 6 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • zest of two large lemons 
  1. Place egg yolks, ricotta cheese and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Zest the lemons right into the mixing bowl.
  2. Add the flour and mix well together until blended. 
  3. Whip egg whites with a mixer until glossy peaks form. Stir about one-quarter of the whites into the ricotta mixture to lighten, then fold in the remaining whites gently.
  4. Add about a tablespoon rice bran oil in a skillet or pan. Melt a tablespoon butter over medium heat. Gently pour about 1/4 cup batter into the pan, spreading (and flattening) slightly. Cook for about 2 minutes on each side, until lightly browned.
  5. Serve immediately with macerated strawberries and chocolate butter.

 Chocolate Butter
Adapted from "Comfort: real simple food"
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter (6 Tbsp), softened
  • 2 oz dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 4 Tbsp maple syrup 
  1. Place chopped chocolate into food processor, and process until as fine as possible (but it is ok to have bits of chunks, it won't hurt anything!)
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and process until smooth. There will be bits and flecks of chocolate, it is supposed to be that way. The chocolate bits will melt on the hot pancakes, creating bits of bliss.
  3. Scrap butter into a glass container and store in refrigerator until ready to use.


  1. Ohhhh wow, these sound amazing. I think we have some ricotta in the fridge, too! Must try!

  2. Please do try and let me know! We truly enjoyed it very, very much. :-)

  3. This sounds soooooo good! I will have to try it.