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Over-ripe bananas perfect for pancakes

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    Ripe banana pancakes. The bananas are mashed as if making banana bread and added to the batter right before the pancakes are prepared. The result is almost like banana bread pancakes.

I hate to throw over-ripe bananas away. Such a wasted opportunity. But there is only so much banana bread that one can eat.

What else can be made with over-ripe bananas? Banana pancakes. I usually make banana pancakes with slices of firm, slightly green bananas, but as it turned out, over-ripe bananas are way better for pancakes.

I also wanted to try a pancake technique that a friend of mine swears by. You separate the egg and blend the yolk and the white into the batter at different times. This is supposed to make the pancakes lighter. I am not sure it made that much difference, but it is easy to do, doesn’t take any extra time, and the resulting pancakes did turn out light and fluffy and toothsome all at once.

A touch of nutmeg accented the ripe banana. I mashed the bananas as if making banana bread and added it to the batter right before making the pancakes. The result was incredible — almost like banana bread pancakes. I love how the essence of banana was evident through the entire pancake, but there were no discernible chunks of fruit.

Most pancake recipes instruct you to heat oil or melt butter in a skillet and “fry” the pancake. I prefer to cook them on a dry nonstick skillet so that they brown and bubble without any extra fat. In a side-by-side taste test, you can really see the difference. One looks like the top of a grilled quesadilla and the other resembles a baked good. The non-fried version is softer and more delicate. The fried has a slightly crunchy top and is a bit greasy. Neither is right or wrong, it’s all a matter of preference.

Serve the pancakes with a good salted butter to bring out the banana flavor and real maple syrup. Other good additions are miniature chocolate chips, dried coconut, toasted walnuts and pecans.

These pancakes are good for breakfast, but even better served as “breakfast for dinner” with a side of crispy bacon.

RIPE BANANA PANCAKES
By Elizabeth Karmel

  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 large egg, separated
  • 1/4 cup cream or half-and-half
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 ripe banana, mashed with a fork
  • Salted butter and pure maple syrup, for serving

Heat oven to 250 degrees. Set a rack inside a sheet pan; set aside.

Whisk flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda and nutmeg together in a large bowl.

Combine milk and vinegar in a 2-cup glass measuring cup and let sit 1-2 minutes. Add egg yolk and cream; mix well. Add melted butter; blend with fork until well combined. Pour into flour mixture and stir with a fork until barely combined.

Mix egg white in a small bowl until slightly foamy and add to batter. Stir just until batter thickens. Set aside 5 minutes.

Just before cooking, combine mashed banana with batter.

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium. Use a spoon or a ladle to drop batter in heaping spoonfuls onto pan, allowing room for batter to spread. (I use a dry pan rather than “fry” the pancakes in oil or butter. Using a nonstick skillet, this will not be a problem.)

Cook for 1-2 minutes, depending on size. When pancake begins to bubble, use a thin spatula to gently flip. The pancake should be golden brown. Don’t let heat get too high or the pancake will burn before it is cooked on the inside. Cook on the other side for another 2 minutes, until bottom is golden brown.

Remove cooked pancakes to rack on prepared baking sheet and place the sheet in the oven while you finish all the batter. Scrape stray crumbs out of skillet between batches. Serve as soon as possible, with butter and syrup. Makes 18 medium pancakes.

>> Note: If cooking for a crowd, this recipe can be easily doubled. Extra pancakes can be frozen and reheated with little difference in taste.

Approximate nutritional information, per pancake: 99 calories, 5 g total fat, 3 g saturated fat, 26 mg cholesterol, 145 mg sodium, 11 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 2 g sugar, 2 g protein.

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