Recipe

Oatmeal Pancakes

Adapted from the Inn at Fordhook Farm

If you want to add blueberries here, you can use fresh or frozen. (And if you’re using frozen, there’s no need to thaw them. The hot pan will do that for you.) I don’t like to stir the berries into the batter, because then you wind up with weird purple streaks, so I press them into the individual pancakes as they cook. You can use however many berries you want, but be sure to add them after the pancakes have cooked on their first side for a minute or two, so that the batter has time to start to set. When you flip the pancakes, the heat of the pan will make the berries sizzle and soften nicely.

Also, if you find yourself with any leftover pancakes, as I often do, know that they are delicious. This past Saturday, I had three left over, so I put them in a plastic bag on the kitchen counter, and I ate them cold that night, after going out for a drink, a completely undrinkable drink, with a girlfriend. I love gin, and I love Lillet, and I have nothing against Scotch, but apparently I do not care for the union of gin, Lillet, and Scotch. Cold pancakes saved the day.

2 cups rolled oats
2 cups buttermilk
½ cup all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. table salt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted but not hot
Vegetable oil or spray, for greasing the pan
Maple syrup, for serving

The night before:
Combine the oats and buttermilk in a medium bowl. Stir to mix. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.

The morning of:
Take the bowl of buttermilk and oats out of the fridge. Set aside.

In another medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

Add the eggs and melted butter to the oat mixture, and stir well. Add the flour mixture, and stir to blend. The batter will be very thick.

Warm a large nonstick skillet or griddle over medium-high heat, and brush (or spray) with vegetable oil. To make sure it’s hot enough, wet your fingers under the tap and sprinkle a few droplets of water onto the pan. If they sizzle, it’s ready. Scoop the batter, about a scant ¼ cup at a time, onto the pan, taking care not to crowd them. When the underside is nicely browned and the top looks set around the  edges, flip the pancakes. Cook until the second side has browned.

Re-grease the skillet, and repeat with more batter. If you find that the pancakes are browning too quickly, dial the heat back to medium.

Serve hot, with maple syrup.

Yield: about 12 pancakes, or 3 to 4 servings

Recipe

Chocolate Mousse

Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated, 2006

The original recipe calls for brandy, not whiskey, but I never seem to have brandy around. We’re whiskey people. You can use whichever you want.

About the chocolate: the good people at Cook’s Illustrated use Ghirardelli bittersweet (60% cacao) chocolate for this recipe, and I do too. You could use a fancier brand, if you want, but whatever you use, it should contain about 60% cacao. Chocolates with a higher cacao percentage have less sugar and a starchier consistency, and they won’t work well in this recipe.

Also, about serving size: chocolate mousse is, by definition, serious stuff. I am pretty much a total pig about dessert, but I recommend that you offer this in small servings. The recipe makes six to eight servings, and I lean in favor of eight. Especially since I like to serve it with a whack of whipped cream on top.

8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, ideally 60% cacao, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 tsp. instant espresso powder
5 Tbsp. water
1 Tbsp. whiskey or brandy
2 large eggs, separated
1 Tbsp. sugar, divided
1/8 tsp. salt
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. cold heavy cream

For serving:

Very lightly sweetened whipped cream

Combine the chocolate, cocoa powder, espresso powder, water, and whiskey in a medium heatproof bowl. Place over a saucepan filled with 1 inch of gently simmering water, and stir frequently until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove from the heat.

In another medium bowl, combine the egg yolks, 1 ½ teaspoons sugar, and salt. Whisk until the mixture lightens to a pale yellow color and thickens slightly, about 30 seconds. Pour the melted chocolate mixture into the egg mixture, and whisk until combined. Set aside for about 5 minutes, until just warmer than room temperature.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium-low speed until frothy. Add the remaining 1 ½ teaspoons sugar, increase the mixer speed to medium-high, and beat until soft peaks form when the whisk is lifted. Detach the whisk and bowl from the mixer, and whisk the last few strokes by hand, making sure to scrape up any unbeaten whites from the bottom of the bowl. Using the whisk, stir about ¼ of the beaten egg whites into the chocolate mixture, to lighten it. Then, using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the remaining egg whites until only a few white streaks remain.

In the now-empty mixer bowl, whip the heavy cream at medium speed until it begins to thicken. Increase the speed to high, and whip until soft peaks form when the whisk is lifted. Using a rubber spatula, fold the whipped cream into the mousse until no white streaks remain. Spoon into 6 to 8 individual serving dishes – I like to use teacups – or, if you’re feeling casual, mound it up in a single serving bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours.

For best texture, let the mousse sit at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving. Serve with very lightly sweetened whipped cream.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings