So… this happened.
And I am oh so glad it did.
You see, for me, the day after Christmas is kind of a downer. All the presents have been unwrapped, Jesus has been born and we’ve already eaten all the delicious Christmas cookies/ham/wine our bellies could handle. The trees and twinkle lights and decked halls and mantels are now just waiting to be put back into their boxes and/or undecked. Family is getting ready to go back home and we have to wait another full year for the season of glad tidings to come again.
Gosh, have I fully depressed you yet? I’ll stop talking — let’s have some pancakes.
In all seriousness, I love the Christmas season so much that it’s hard to let it go. So between now and the new year, I like to stretch it out as much as possible, which means keeping the twinkle lights up, the tree trimmed, the music playing and the fire roaring while I drink my hot cocoa, thankyouverymuch. And having festive pancakes for breakfast, like these lemon ricotta ones topped with pomegranate syrup, helps too. They’re sweet, they’re fluffy, they’re made with whole wheat flour so you can feel good about eating them after you’ve eaten your fair share of Christmas cookies and they’re extremely simple to make. It’s like comfort and joy in the form of breakfast.
I’ve never made pancakes before with whipped egg whites, but after this experience methinks it will be my new permanent way of making pancakes. Sure, it takes a little bit more effort and time (and by that I mean letting the egg whites whip themselves into stiff peaks and about five extra minutes, tops) but the results are worth it. You get this whipped batter that yields super fluffy pancakes with hundreds of air pockets, so it’s like you’re eating clouds. The flavors of lemon and ricotta are so mild that they leave you wondering, at first, if this is just a regular ol’ pancake — but the aftertaste renders that ever-so-slight tartness and creaminess that lets you know this is, indeed, no ordinary pancake. And of course, a homemade pomegranate syrup to top it all off (along with a sprinkling of pretty pomegranate gems) pushes these pancakes over the top into the realm of not just a delicious breakfast, but one worth remembering. If nothing else, it helps keep the Christmas spirit around just a little bit longer.
That’s reason enough for me.
Whole Wheat Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with Pomegranate Syrup
Pancakes recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Yields: 12 pancakes
4 large eggs, separated
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon zest (from about 2 lemons)
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
butter for griddle
1/2 cup maple syrup
In a large bowl, whisk together egg yolks, ricotta, sugar and lemon zest. Add flour and stir to combine.
In a separate bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together egg whites and salt until stiff peaks form, about 5 minutes. Whisk about a quarter of the egg whites into the lemon-ricotta batter; carefully fold in the remaining egg whites.
Preheat oven to 200 degrees F and place a baking sheet in the oven. Heat a cast-iron skillet or griddle over medium heat. Add enough butter to skillet to coat the bottom. Ladle 1/4-cupfuls of the batter into the skillet and cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes each side. Remove pancakes from skillet and transfer to baking sheet in oven to keep warm. Repeat with remaining batter, adding more butter as needed to the skillet to keep the bottom coated.
When all the pancakes have been made, make the syrup: Cut a pomegranate into quarters and remove the seeds (here’s a fantastic how-to for this). Transfer a little more than half of the seeds to a food processor or blender and blend until seeds are just broken. Push juice through a fine-mesh sieve. Pour 1/4 cup of the juice into a small saucepan with maple syrup; heat over medium-low heat until warmed through. Pour syrup over pancakes and sprinkle with remaining seeds, if desired.
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