Carrot cake. These are words that instantly put a smile on my face when I hear or see them paired together. This is rather ironic considering I used to harbor a strong distaste for carrot cake. My family can attest to the fact that I much preferred the cream cheese icing, which I would carefully scrape off of the cake and lick from my fingers.
My, how times have changed.
Carrot cake is now one of my very favorite desserts; whether it’s studded with walnuts, pecans, raisins, pineapple, coconut, or just grated carrots, I find this moist and sweet cake hard to resist.
Thus you can imagine my delight when I stumbled upon a recipe for carrot cake pancakes. I don’t typically choose pancakes as my morning meal, mainly because they rarely hold me over until lunch. My version of carrot cake pancakes, however, are hearty enough to satiate hunger while remaining light enough to satisfy a craving for fluffy pancakes.
Whole wheat pastry flour and a generous amount of grated carrots contribute hunger-squashing fiber; a bit of neufchatel cream cheese adds just the right amount of fat to keep your stomach feeling full; and a touch of maple syrup in place of refined sugar maintains your blood sugar so your energy doesn’t crash an hour after eating the pancakes.
I decided to keep my first batch rather basic by omitting the traditional ingredient additions. The pancakes are delicious as is, but I am excited to experiment with various add-ins: Raisins soaked in vanilla extract until plump, juicy pineapple chunks, crunchy toasted nuts, and rich unsweetened coconut flakes are all variations I’d like to try.
Perhaps I’ll even make a batch of carrot cake pancakes with “the works” – a.k.a. all of the above. Now THAT would put a smile on anyone’s face.
Carrot Cake Pancakes with Maple Cream Cheese
adapted from Joy the Baker, originally from The Food Network
Ingredients for the carrot cake pancakes:
- 1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger
- 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 2 Tbsp pure maple syrup
- 1 cup milk (I used 1% – what I had on hand)
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups finely grated carrots (preferably using a microplane grater)
- canola oil cooking spray
Ingredients for the maple cream cheese:
- 4 ounces neufchatel (1/3-less-fat) cream cheese, at room temperature
- 2 Tbsp pure maple syrup
- 2 Tbsp milk
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- Start off by making the maple cream cheese: place room-temperature neufchatel in a large bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Beat in the maple syrup, milk, vanilla, and cinnamon. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, ginger, and nutmeg.
- In a separate bowl, combine egg, maple syrup, milk, and vanilla; mix well.
- Stir wet mixture into dry ingredients until moistened. Fold in grated carrots.
- Heat a non-stick skillet (or griddle) coated with cooking spray over medium/medium-high heat. Pour pancake batter by 1/4 cupful onto the griddle.
- When bubbles form on the top of the pancakes and the edges look dry, (after about 2 minutes of cooking), flip and cook until golden brown (about 1 minute)*.
- Serve with a dollop or smear of the maple cream cheese.
*If you’re planning on enjoying leftovers, I suggest slightly undercooking the pancakes and then reheating them in the toaster oven for a quick weekday breakfast.