Pumpkin. Does any better vegetable exist? I’m thinking no.

It’s usually the type of ingredient that comes out to play as the leaves start to turn, but by Valentine’s Day, its orangey hue is a distant memory. For most of my life, I was content to eat it in pie form on Thanksgiving and Christmas, and that was about it.

I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but at sometime in the last few years, pumpkin began to inch its way further into my cooking. More and more, I found myself buying it, to the point where it’s now a year-round staple in my home. These days, I’m constantly on the lookout for how I can add it to dishes I’m already making. Pumpkin chili, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin smoothies, pumpkin yogurt, pumpkin lasagna – the list goes on. So when I came across a recipe for pumpkin pancakes, I knew I had to try it.

I’ve made quite a few changes to the original preparation from allrecipes.com, and the result is a pancake that is light, fluffy, and full of flavor. The batter is sweetened with brown sugar, and the pumpkin pie spice is the perfect autumnal complement. Chocolate chips provide textural contrast and a bit of decadence that make these pancakes oh-so-tempting.

While seeming indulgent, these guys pack a lot of nutritional punch. By using 50% whole wheat flour, we increase the amount of fiber, manganese, and magnesium over using all-purpose flour alone. Pumpkin is itself a superfood and is a significant source of antioxidants, fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, and potassium. Finally, the fat content is kept to a minimum by using applesauce instead of the traditional vegetable oil to help bind the batter.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Pancakes

Makes: 11-12 5-inch pancakes

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Pancakes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine grain salt
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons applesauce
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • Pure maple syrup
  • (Optional) Assorted toppings: pure maple syrup, butter, peanut butter, Nutella, banana slices, chocolate chips, shredded coconut, etc.

Instructions

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the unbleached all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Use a whisk to incorporate all the ingredients together.
  2. In a separate bowl, beat together the milk, pumpkin puree, egg, applesauce, and vinegar until homogeneous.
  3. Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the liquid mixture into the indentation. Gently stir together with a wooden spoon just until combined and no dry spots remain, but do not overmix.
  4. Pour the pancake batter, about ½ cup per pancake, onto a pre-heated griddle or pan coated with nonstick spray (I use canola oil). Sprinkle each pancake with the desired amount of chocolate chips. Allow the pancakes to cook for 2 ½ to 4 minutes until the bottom starts to brown and the edges are dry. Flip and cook 2 ½ to 4 minutes more until brown and cooked through. Adjust the heat as necessary to ensure even cooking.
  5. Serve immediately with pure maple syrup and assorted toppings.
http://www.pepperlynn.com/2011/11/pumpkin-chocolate-chip-pancakes/

Tips and Tidbits

  • A 50/50 split of unbleached all-purpose flour and whole wheat flour suits my taste, but you can do any proportion you desire. Using a greater quantity of all-purpose flour will result in a lighter flavor and somewhat fluffier pancakes. On the other hand, the more whole wheat flour that is used, the denser the pancakes will be. If you want to go 100% whole grain, I’d recommend substituting whole wheat pastry flour to avoid having pancakes that are overly heavy.
  • Pumpkin pie spice is a great all-purpose seasoning to have on hand during the holiday months (I just snagged some for cheap at Trader Joe’s recently!), but if you don’t have it, a substitute of 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon + 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg + ½ teaspoon ground ginger will work well.
  • Call me a pumpkin snob, but the only brand of pumpkin puree that I like is Libby’s. It’s the freshest tasting and has the best texture of all the ones I’ve tried. Of course, you could also make your own, but that sounds like more work than I’m willing to do.
  • What can you do with any unused pumpkin puree? I’m so glad you asked! I like to throw the leftovers into a resealable container in the refrigerator and add a spoonful here or there to whatever I’m already making. It makes for a nutritious addition to greek yogurt, oatmeal, and savory dishes such as chili and marinara sauce. A little extra beta-carotene never hurt anyone, right?
  • It may seem odd that this recipe calls for vinegar, but by adding it to the baking soda, a reaction occurs that helps with the leavening (science fair volcanoes, anyone?). The bubbles that form equate to air pockets in the pancake, which means a light and fluffy result. Overmixing kills the texture of the pancake because all those beautiful bubbles are delicate and can be easily destroyed if the batter isn’t handled with care.
  • Because of the added sugar and flavorings in the pancakes themselves, they are scrumptious on their own, even without syrup or other toppings. I usually eat the leftovers cold, straight out of the fridge. That’s how you know this is one flavorful pancake.

Tell me: What’s your favorite pumpkin recipe?

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