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pancakes for us

Recipe: chocolate gingerbread pancakes

People react to tragedy in different ways, and we were reminded of this on Friday morning when shock and despair rippled through our collective consciousness. I shed tears for people I didn’t know – victims, survivors, families, a community – and later more tears for my friend whose little nephew was lost in the shooting. You can do something or you can do nothing, but we all have a choice here and my hope is that we will think carefully and clearly about that choice.

I have experienced loss, but I am no expert. I seek solace in nature, a place so cold and indifferent and yet almost painfully beautiful. The world continues around you, no matter what has happened, and I find comfort in that. It helps me to pick myself up and continue. I thought I’d share some of the beauty in my corner of the world from a weekend that left so many of us heartsick.


an especially bright meteor from the geminids shower early friday morning

two meteors within 30 seconds of one another

a lovely red fox hiding out in the yard



We spent the weekend hosting a dear high school friend of mine and his wonderful wife at our house. It’s so nice to spend an entire evening catching up and sharing with people you love and admire, but rarely get to see in person. We curled up on couches under warm quilts, eating dessert, bonding over any topic and every topic. The following morning was Mitch’s birthday and Shannon clued me in on his favorite breakfast treat – pancakes. Imagine this Harvard-trained world-traveling consultant-do-gooder gourmand sitting down to a stack of pancakes and clapping his hands together like a little kid. Just one of many reasons why I love Mitch.

happy birthday, sweetie



I am not a breakfast person, and I think most of you knew that. But isn’t there something awfully special about pancakes? I sort of feel that pancakes bring out the kid in all of us. They are like breakfast presents for children – both the small and the big children. Morning happiness on a plate. An act of love. I’m thinking Saturday mornings in your pajamas eating pancakes with sticky syrup and watching favorite cartoons with nary a care in the world. I equate pancakes with childhood… precious childhood. Let’s make some pancakes.

eggs, molasses, brown sugar, spices, flour, chocolate, butter, buttermilk, leavenings



While I don’t indulge in pancakes very often, I do enjoy a fluffy buttermilk pancake from time to time – preferably with fruit inclusions. But sometimes you have to go a little wild and change things up. As I flipped through my copy of Desserted, my eyes locked onto a recipe for chocolate gingerbread pancakes. How Decemberish!

mix the dry ingredients

mix the wet ingredients

add chocolate (i swear this isn’t dessert)



The spices drew me in more than the chocolate, but I rather like the combination of ginger and chocolate. How could it be bad? Generally, making pancakes from scratch is easy. I’ll bet the majority of people who make pancakes from mixes don’t even realize just how easy it is to make pancakes from scratch (a topic of discussion we had at Mitch’s birthday breakfast). This recipe has the extra step of separating the eggs and whipping the egg whites to be folded in. Just slightly more effort than your standard buttermilk pancake.

stir in the dry ingredients

fold the whipped egg whites into the batter



When I first started making pancakes, I always flipped them too early. Now I know to wait until the bubbles begin to appear and burst on the top before flipping the pancake. They cook up dark because of the molasses and spices and chocolate, but take care not to burn them (because that would be sad). A good dose of maple syrup really brings each bite alive with festive, rich flavors.

see the bubbles start to appear on the surface

serve hot (keep them warm in a low oven while the others cook)

most excellent with maple syrup and some bacon



The house was filled with the aroma of the holidays. These pancakes are a nice change from the standard buttermilk cousin, although I think chocolate gingerbread is more of a special occasion pancake. But sometimes we need special occasions for no reason in particular.

chocolate and gingerbread in your breakfast



Chocolate Gingerbread Pancakes
[print recipe]
from Desserted by Kate Shaffer

2 cups flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 cups buttermilk
3 tbsps butter, melted, plus more for the skillet
1/4 cup molasses
2 tbsps dark brown sugar
2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled

Whisk the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and salt together in a mixing bowl. Separate the eggs and place the whites in a medium-sized bowl. Mix the yolks with the buttermilk, melted butter, molasses, and brown sugar. Stir the chocolate into the wet mix. Beat the whites until they hold a peak, but not dry (dry will appear crumbly rather than smooth when you break the peak). Stir the wet mixture into the dry ingredients and mix well. Fold in the egg whites. Heat a large pan or skillet over medium heat and melt a little butter in pan, coating the whole surface. When the oil is hot, add a 1/4 cup of the batter per pancake and cook until the surface of the pancake(s) begins to bubble and becomes dry along the edges. Flip the pancake(s) and cook for a few minutes until done (the center should spring back when you poke it with your finger). Makes 12-16 pancakes.

15 nibbles at “pancakes for us”

  1. Jules says:

    girl, you have captured my heart with these little babies. What a great Christmas morning breakfast!

  2. Collette says:

    Thank you for sharing your corner.

  3. debbie says:

    There are few things more beautiful in this world than the night sky. It doesn’t look like that here in Virginia…..not nearly as wonderful.. Thanks for the pics. I love them!

  4. Kristin says:

    Thank you for sharing the beauty.

  5. Laurel says:

    Thank you for your post. I’ve seen some bloggers who haven’t mentioned Connecticut at all, and it really bothers me that someone can just keep on talking about themselves without bringing it back to what matters. I also find myself wanting to take refuge in light, friendship, warmth, and joy at the same time that I’m grieving… so I really appreciate the beautiful photographs and the pancakes too.

    I am so very, very sorry for your friend’s loss. I’m the mother of a kindergartener, who shoveled a rainbow in the driveway this morning, so…. yeah.

  6. Cynthe Brush says:

    Oooooh….these look / sound YUMMY! Like Jules idea of serving them for Christmas morning. I’ll have to adapt it to an eggless version, since Bill and I don’t eat eggs. Results will be different, but still tasty.

    Appreciate your tribute & sentiments about the Connecticut school shooting tragedy…our lives winking on-and-off like stars in the night sky. The challenge for me is to truly be fully present for the ‘now,’ serenely accepting of ‘what was,’ and not carrying shattered dreams of what I had hoped ‘would be’ into the moment. My heart goes out to all those families. And at this time of year… (BTW, Bri’s birthday anniversary was yesterday, the 16th).

    Thanks for this lovely post.

  7. Susanne says:

    So heartsick for your friend’s loss, Jen.

    You’re so right about nature. How can something so cold and unsentimental still bring us such comfort? I can’t explain or understand it, and yet I rely on it, to get me through times like this.

    Thanks for sharing your voice with us – it really helps.

  8. Abbe@This is How I Cook says:

    You have such a beautiful way of expressing yourself. And I too, was taught by my husband many moons ago about how to look for the bubbles in pancakes. I make gingerbread waffles but will have to try these soon. Just like in nature life can be cruel; however it is the cruelty we must learn from and the beauty we must aspire to.

  9. Bernadette @ Now Stir It Up says:

    The way you write is beautiful. Posting something that reminds us all of childhood is very appropriate given the events of the last week. Thank you.

    Plus they look scrumptious!

  10. Lisa says:

    Hmmm, could I put in a waffle iron?

  11. Lisa says:

    Could I put in the waffle iron? Look sooo good!!

  12. Alice says:

    What are those orange things in your last picture?

  13. Jasmine says:

    Yes, what are those bright orange disks on the plate? They look like some kind of luscious fruit but I can’t figure it out.

  14. Nicole @ The Girl Who Ate Boston says:

    I love the way you write.

  15. jenyu says:

    Jules – thanks!

    Collette – :)

    debbie – ah yes, the east coast can be tricky… I think I lucked out with this window of cloudless skies for just an hour or two!

    Kristin – xo

    Laurel – I think each person handles crises and tragedy in their own way and sometimes people don’t know how to handle it – so they don’t. You see it a lot and I don’t think it’s necessarily wrong or right, just human.

    Cynthe – I’m sure your pancakes will turn out lovely no matter what you do to them :) Ah, thanks for the reminder of Bri’s anniversary. Too many good people lost… it makes living life all the more precious. xo

    Susanne – thanks xo

    Abbe – the bubbles are key, aren’t they? Glad I no longer have giant splats of pancake batter from flipping too soon :)

    Bernadette – thank you.

    Lisa – I don’t know. I have never tried, but gosh, that sounds good!

    Alice – persimmons! The fuyu variety (which you can eat while they are hard).

    Jasmine – ha ha, persimmons :)

    Nicole – thank you, sweetie.

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