Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Simple Healthy Chocolate Chip Pancakes Recipe

I’ve loved pancakes since I was a kid. Who wouldn’t? It’s a parent-approved, society- sanctioned main course which consists of cake doused in syrup.

Pancakes were not part of my parents’ culinary repertoire (although there is a savory Indian version called chillas or cheelas, which I hope to feature one day), so as a child I grew up eating and making pancakes from the Aunt Jemima mix. As brand marketers would be thrilled to know, I closely associated her image with my positive pancake experience.

Only as an adult did I understand the nature and power of the stereotypical and racist depiction of Aunt Jemima. In my lifetime I have seen the image change from a woman wearing a kerchief to one with a hint of collar. Looking back, the earlier illustrations seem so blatantly offensive in their depiction of Aunt Jemima as an obsequious servant.

I’m not alone in having been impacted by the image and idea of Aunt Jemima. She inspired Andy Warhol and was analyzed in an academic book entitled “Slave in a Box: The Strange Career of Aunt Jemima”. Manning Marable, a professor at Columbia University says that: “In the white imagination few images are as recognizable as Aunt Jemima…the racist image of the black mammy has had a powerful impact upon American culture and society.”

As an adult I no longer purchase Aunt Jemima products (or any pancake mix, for that matter). As you will see below, pancakes require four ingredients: flour, baking powder, eggs and milk. The recipe below is low in fat (though I provide full fat substitutes as well).

Earlier this week my friend Christina forwarded a link to a two-minute video about pancake making. It is charming and has a catchy theme song. Note: the cook does not use baking powder in his recipe, so the pancakes he produces look more like what we would call crepes.

Makes 4-5 medium pancakes (serves 2)


1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
1/4 cup pasteurized egg product (can substitute 1 egg)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (optional)
1 cup skim milk or soymilk (can substitute whole milk or buttermilk)
1/4 cup chocolate chips


1. In a medium size bowl, mix flour, baking powder and cinnamon.
2. In a cup or small bowl mix egg and vanilla extract.
3. With a fork, mix egg mixture into flour mixture.
4. Quickly add 1/2 cup of milk. Using the fork to fully incorporate the milk until the mixture is smooth.
5. Add another 1/4 cup of milk and mix until fully incorporated. Add the last 1/4 cup of milk and incorporate. You may have to beat fairly intensely to produce a smooth batter.
6. Heat a non-stick skillet or griddle on medium. To cook, use 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of butter or 2 or 3 sprays of cooking spray. Pour 1/2 cup of batter and let cook for 2 minutes until bubbles form on top and the cooked side is medium brown. You can check the underside by using a spatula lift the pancake.
7. Before flipping put 10-15 chocolate chips on the wet batter. The pancake should be stiff enough to flip in one motion. Let cook for another 2-3 minutes.
8. Place pancakes on a plate covered in aluminum foil. If you want to ensure the pancakes are warm, keep the plate in the oven on 200 F until ready to serve.
9. Serve with Canadian maple syrup. In a pinch you can also use molasses or honey.

If you make this recipe with the listed and optional (but not substitute) ingredients and use cooking spray, the pancakes will be low in fat and sugar but still quite tasty. To be even healthier, you could substitute chocolate chips with blueberries or raspberries (about 8-10 per pancake). You can also serve pancakes with applesauce or berry syrup instead of maple syrup.

If you are looking for something more decadent, serve with the substitute ingredients (real egg and whole milk). You can also serve with crème Chantilly, sweetened fresh whipped cream (use 1/3 cup granulated sugar per cup of whipping cream). You can flavor the cream with 2 teaspoons of vanilla, brandy or rose water. Some people spread one or two tablespoons of peanut butter on their pancakes before dousing with syrup (this tastes best with chocolate chip pancakes and is not recommended for fruit pancakes).


B said...

these sound delicious! the most healthy thing about them is that they are unabashedly chocolate chip! I would definitely go with the milk and egg versions. viva the good life -- thanks Aly!

Anonymous said...

HealthIER pancakes, yes. HealthY pancakes, no.

How can you even think of calling pancakes healthy? So what if it is fat free! Perhaps if you had put a bit of whole grain flour in the recipe it would slightly balance out sugar (via syrup in your photo) and white flour? The suggestions to use soymilk and berries are good. You could also use unsweetened dark chocolate (i.e. no sugar, high fructose corn syrup, etc) instead of chocolate chips. Also, what is in cooking spray? It is even real food?


Anonymous said...

I so enjoy your treat-a-week blog. Your recipes are beautiful and though I have not made any yet, reading/salivating about them and looking at your photos is often the 'treat' in my day! This is coming from someone who studies cookbooks as bedtime reading, mind you :)

I have avoided the temptation to take on your desserts because, as you know, I have changed my eating lifestyle to a mediteranean-influenced diet with a strong focus on healthy, nutrient-dense ingredients. For this reason, I must say I was a little disappointed to see that your 'simple healthy pancakes' call for white flour. In recognition of this - and of the oppresive Aunt Jemima marketing you highlighted - why not shift focus from 'white is right' and introduce whole wheat flour into your pancakes?

Your Friend Jackie

~~louise~~ said...

Hi Aly, I was just updating my links for last year's National Pancake Day celebration and was delighted to see that I included this link last year. How cool is that? I can see why, Chocolate Chip Pancakes are a favorite of mine and the thought of them be healthy makes it all the better.

If I could figure how to do the "create a link" thing at the bottom of your post, I would. For the life of me, I just can't seem to ever get it right. Here's the link if you want to see the post. Thanks for sharing... Now, I'm off to see what you're up to today. Be right there...

Raquel said...

Sounds like a deleicous recipe! How many calories per serving?

I like this site :: Alaska Fishing Trips service said...

Looks delicious and can't wait to try these! I'm not a chocolate fan, so I was thinking of making these with white chocolate chips - you know, mix and match style! :)