One thing that I've tried to do since having a child is to start and maintain food traditions. We live far away from all of our family and only see them on big holidays or special occasions, so adding special moments to the rest of our days has become even more important to me. Our food traditions range from simple things like our weekly Friday night pizza (made by my husband) to more elaborate homemade pasta on Easter, kolaches for Christmas, and cheesecake for my husband's birthday.
And for the past two years, I've also made it a point to serve these Cocoa Pancakes on Valentine's Day as a special way to start the day. They aren't over the top with chocolate, but they do have a hefty dose of cocoa flavor, so they tend to make everyone happy. You can of course amp up the chocolate (see the variations at the end of the recipe), but as is these walk the line between healthy and indulgent.
I've never really gotten into making shapes or animals with my daughter's food since I don't want her to expect that level of entertainment at mealtime, but making pancake hearts is easy. You simply make a "V" shape with the batter, then spread it out to fill in a heart. Be a little more gentle when flipping these, but otherwise cook them like typical pancakes.
The Berry Yogurt Spread is an optional part of this recipe, but it's a yummy way to make it a more celebration-worthy breakfast. It's simply a combination of thawed and warmed frozen berries (since they are less expensive than fresh berries at this time of year where we live) and thick Greek yogurt. You can also just use berry flavored yogurt—I like Siggi's yogurt because it has a nice thickness and flavor without excessive added sugar. Let the little ones "paint" on the yogurt topping, serve it already spread on, or put it into a separate bowl and let them use it as a dip. It's also pretty good just on it's own!
Sweetheart Cocoa Pancakes with Berry Yogurt Spread
The Berry Yogurt Spread is a delicious (and protein-packed) variation to maple syrup. Make it the day before or start it before you start the pancakes so the berries have a chance to cool. You can also simplify and warm the berries and serve them as a sauce over the pancakes, skipping the yogurt.
Serves: about 4
- 1 1/4 cups whole-wheat flour
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder, sifted
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1-1 1/4 cups milk
- Neutral oil or butter, as needed for cooking
- Berry Yogurt Spread (recipe below)
1. Mix the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Stir together the maple syrup, vanilla, and eggs in a separate bowl. Gently fold the wet ingredients into the dry. Add the milk, starting with 1 cup, until the batter is of medium thickness. It should not be runny, but it should fall relatively easily off of a spoon.
2. Preheat oven to 175 F and set aside a baking sheet. Heat a nonstick or cast iron pan over medium heat. Grease with nonstick spray or butter. Drop batter by 1/4 cup portions (or bigger or smaller, depending on your preference) making a "V" shape. Spread into a heart until about 1/4-inch thick. Cook until edges are set and you see small bubbles, about 2 minutes. Flip carefully and cook through on the other side, about 2 minutes more. Place cooked pancakes on the baking sheet to stay warm and repeat to cook the rest of the batter. Serve warm with Berry Yogurt Spread—or maple syrup or nut butter.
Let any extras cool fully and store them in a airtight storage container or freezer bag in the fridge or freezer for later use. Warm in 15-30 second intervals in the microwave until thawed, if frozen, and warm.
Berry Yogurt Spread
Place 2 cups frozen blueberries (or a berry blend) into a small saucepan. Warm on low, stirring occasionally, until thawed and starting to break down and release their juices, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Stir together with the yogurt and serve with the pancakes.
Add 1/2 cup frozen or fresh blueberries to the pancake batter and cook as directed.
Add 1/4 chopped dark chocolate chips to the batter and cook as directed.
Serve with freshly whipped cream for an extra special breakfast.