These Thick Pancakes, They Vibrate?

I went to SXSW last weekend and got back to Dallas Tuesday evening. Then, the following day (Wednesday), there was the DFWBlogs March Cocktail Event at New Amsterdam Coffee Haus (which actually is a bar, contrary to what you might think). I actually wasn't sure if I’d go, but decided to give it a try as I had heard that there might be some new bloggers there.

I ended up getting a bit lost on my way there and wound up about ten minutes late. Now, even though ten minutes late is still “on-time” in the DFW-blogiverse, I still expected that there’d be a few people there ahead of me. However, as I walked in the door, I took a quick look around and soon realized that I was the only one there. So, I just ordered a drink and sat down at a table which looked big enough to hold several more people. And, fortunately, New Amsterdam has an excellent beer selection; I certainly didn’t mind a few quiet moments as I sipped my Chimay White.

As I waited, I peered around the place and took in their decor. Soon enough, a few other bloggers arrived — Leia, Matt, Julie and Andrew walked in about the same time. Each of them ordered a drink and, as we began talking, we soon realized that neither Leia nor I had dinner beforehand. Leia mentioned off-handedly that the last time the DFWBlogs happy hour was at New Amsterdam, the group went off to Cafe Brazil afterwards. That sounded pretty good, actually, and I suggested that we could go get some dinner there.

After finishing our drinks — and meeting new-blogger Heidi — we closed our tabs and headed off to Cafe Brazil. And, as an illustration of the goofy road patterns in the area, I recall that Matt’s directions to get to Cafe Brazil went something like this: “ Go left on Exposition Ave and then turn left onto Elm Street. Well, actually, you don’t need to turn left onto Elm — Exposition just curves around and then becomes Elm.”

We drove to Cafe Brazil and there were plenty of free tables; we were seated just about as soon as we got there. And, while I often order a make-your-own omelette when I go to Cafe Brazil (with chorizo, feta and sun-dried tomatoes), I felt like something a bit sweeter this time. I turned to the breakfast section of the menu and the pancakes caught my eye. Of course, the menu only said “pancakes” and didn’t make it clear whether fruit-filled pancakes were available (such as blueberry pancakes which would have hit the spot right about then).

When our server came around to take our order, I just asked him what kinds of pancakes they had. I recall that there were plain, chocolate chip and some third variety of pancakes. Well, that made my choice easy — I could hardly resist a dish featuring both pancakes and chocolate. And, just to ensure some protein intake within the meal, I also ordered a side of chorizo.

Our food arrived a little while later and I dug right in. And, I’m not sure if this is typical of all breakfast-is-our-specialty restaurants, but these were some enormous pancakes — each of the three pancakes was about 6-8 inches across and about a third of an inch thick. Sure enough, there were chocolate chips in there. But, the thickness of the pancakes worked to their disadvantage. I mean, let’s not kid around — this was a chocolate-chip delivery vehicle which happened to be in a circle and I just wanted as many chocolate chips in each bite as possible.

To the cook’s credit, it was evident that the chocolate chips were added as the pancakes were cooking (as opposed to adding right into the batter) as chips might have all sunk to the bottom of the mixing bowl otherwise. With this manual chip-sprinkling midway through the cooking process, the chips were evenly distributed. But, the pancakes were so thick that even a 2" x 1" slice — a throughput of perhaps two to three chocolate chips — still left me with a mouthful of pancake.

Perhaps some thinner pancakes would resolve this. Nothing crazy or crepe-like (not that I would be opposed to that) but perhaps something closer to a quarter-inch thick. That should be thick enough to remain structurally sound when transferring them off the cooking surface while ensuring the most favorable chip-to-batter radio. Not that these were bad pancakes — they were soft and delectable — but they did have that area for improvement.

Come to think of it, most restaurant-pancakes are pretty thick, if memory serves. Maybe it’s just that their customers like the spectacle of a pile of plate-filling pancakes. So, I suppose I’ll just have to make my own chocolate-chip pancakes to get them properly unthickified. (And, that reminds me of the DFWBlogs-breakfast which we had about two years ago. Everyone joined in and we cooked up a huge breakfast; I wouldn’t be opposed to trying that again sometime.)

Trip to Target

I stopped by Target to replace some of Jason’s items that he took along with his move:

  • Mixing bowls
  • Whisk
  • Spatula

Pancakes, here I come!

For what it’s worth, a whisk is one of the secrets to good pancakes. Just be sure not to overmix — you want the batter mixed just enough so that there’s no liquid pooling beside the dry ingredients. It’s ok to have some lumps, as they’ll generally cook away.

Fajita Pancakes?

MetaFilter users are known for their fondness of pancakes, but they didn’t warmly receive McCormick’s recipe for Fajita Pancakes:

Add 1 tablespoon of Fajita Marinade & Seasoning to 1 quart of pancake batter, 2 cups of corn niblets, and 1 cup of diced green peppers. Prepare the pancakes to serve with soups, stews, or chili.

I like pancakes as much as the next guy (ok, maybe more than the next guy), but that recipe still doesn’t sound delicious to me. I think it was the corn nibblets that pushed me over the edge.

Pancakes and Toppings

I made some pancakes this morning. And, my quest for toppings continued.

But first, a word on sugar-reduced foods. Generally called “lite”, these foods have about half as many (or fewer) calories than their full-calorie couterparts. Simply, there’s less sugar.The problem that I’ve noticed is not so much that they’re less sweet, but that sugar acts as a thickening agent. So, without the full sugar compliment, sugar-reduced foods aren’t as thick or solid as “regular” foods. For instance:

  • Chocolate Sauce: Yes, Hershey’s makes Lite Chocolate Syrup. And, I’ve tried it. However, it’s gross — whereas regular chocolate syrup has a pleasing almost-melted-chocolate-like mouth-feel, the Lite syrup is just watery.
  • Pancake Syrup: Yup, there’s Lite pancake syrup as well. Regular syrup has about 200 calories per 1/4 cup serving, but Lite syrup has 100. “So,”, you’re thinking, “maybe this won’t be so bad, since it’s only a half-as-much reduction in calories.“ Well, not exactly. I bought some Lite pancake syrup (Target brand). and, actually, it’s not all bad. Unlike the Lite chocolate syrup, I wasn’t thinking to myself “Man, I can’t wait until this if finished”. And, being that it’s a lite product, I’ normally exect it to be thinner in viscosity than ordinary syrup. Surprisingly, it wasn’t — but only because it had gums and thickening agents added to the syrup to compensate. But, it was just overcompensation: the Lite syrup ends up with a gummy texture, somewhat reminiscent of caramel.

So, I was all ready to give up on Lite syrup for my pancake needs. But then, I read Josh’s comment to my pancake entry. There, he recommends jam. So, on my next trip to Target, I checked out their jams.

Always the optimist, I checked out the Lite jams (from Smucker’s). I read on their label that they had 25 calories per 1 TBsp serving. Now, my mind was trying to work out how 1 TBsp related to 1/4 cup (the serving size of the Lite syrup). Then, I gathered some sense and whipped out my Pilot, which did the calculation for me: 1/4 cup = 4 TBsp.

So, that meant that the 25 calories per 1 TBsp of Lite jam had 100 calories per 1/4 cup — the same calorie-count as the Lite syrup. At this point, I was a skeptic of the jam suggestion in general (since I was really a syrup-fan at heart). And, my primary motivation for considering jam in the first place was that it might have fewer calories than the (Lite) syrup. And, seeing that Lite jam and Lite syrup had the same amount of calories was a bit disappointing.

But, “sugar-free” jam to the rescue — after doing the math on the Lite jam, I then saw that Smucker’s also had Sugar Free jam (sweetened with aspartame). I somewhat suspected that it might actually be “no sugar added” jam (as opposed to “sugar free”) since fruit intrinsically had sugar. But, even if that was the case, I wasn’t deterred. The Nutra-Sweetening concerned me a bit, since I’m all too aware of the nasty aftertaste that NutraSweet can bring to diet sodas.

I checked out its nutrition label and was pleasantly surprised to discover that it had only 10 calories per 1 TBsp. That meant that it was only 40 calories per 1/4 cup (compared with 100 calories per 1/4 cup of even the Lite syrup). So, I bought some.

After taking it home, I didn’t even wait to make pancakes before trying some (the concern of NutraSweet was still on my mind). So, I took out a spoon and tasted a small bit. And, actually, it was quite tasty! And, it didn’t have any of that NutraSweet-aftertaste.

Of course, with no sugar at all (other than any remaining fruit-sugars), its consistency wasn’t all that close to that of regular jam — whereas ordinary jam can be somewhat jelly-like, this was less so. That is, it seemed to have a “softer” jelliness than regular jam. But, that’s not even the best part — with all the sugar “missing”, the raspberry flavor really shined through, almost with a slight tartness.

So, as I mentioned, I made pancakes this morning, and I made use of the Sugar Free raspberry jam. And, it was mega-tasty. Mmm. Between platesful of pancakes, I even switched over to Lite syrup for a couple pancakes (just to directly compare the Lite syrup with the taste of the sugar-free jam). And, though syrup has its place, I think jam wins (at least among the reduced-calorie versions of the respective toppings).


I’ve become a bit of a pancake fiend lately. So fluffy and delicious... Mmm.. Anyhow, we ran out of Bisquick so I had to buy some more pancake mix. So, at Sam’s Club, I picked up some Krusteaz Buttermilk Pancake Mix. And, I’ve found that it’s better than Bisquick in several ways:

  • Easier to make: Krusteaz just requires the user to add water, while Bisquick requires 2 eggs and a cup of milk.
  • Healthier: Krusteaz has half the fat per serving of Bisquick (2.5g vs 5g)
  • And, best of all, Krusteaz isn’t made by General Mills.

I happened to buy the 10lb package, which I suppose is standard sizing for Sam’s Club. Working through the servings/package, that should be enough for about 240 pancackes, woohoo! And, it was only $5 at Sam’s.

The package says “light and fluffy” on a ribbon-design that streams across the front of the package. And, indeed they are — in fact, Krusteaz pancakes seem to be distinctly more fluffy/light than Bisquick’s pancakes, which tend to be more dense and compact.

It crossed my mind that I could eat pancakes all the time, but they just don’t have enough protein for that to be viable on a daily basis (especially compared to my normal tuna-sandwich breakfast). But, they’re still good to have from time to time (in fact, I had some this morning).

And, perhaps I’m a pancake-heathen for saying so, I tend to prefer the fake-syrup to maple syrup. I prefer the thicker viscosity of fake syrup (less likely to run off the pancakes) and the fake-syrup tends to be less sweet as well. And, as it turns out, there’s Lite fake-syrup, but I haven’t seen any Lite maple syrup.