**GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED – the lucky winner was Margot of Coffee & Vanilla**
I’m a fraud.
Yes, I hang out with baking and dessert maestros like Mowie, Deeba and Jamie. Yes, I do occasionally bake and make dessert. But I’m no baker, and I’m no dessert blogger. I have made “real” bread with yeast exactly once. I have yet to see if my macarons grow feet. And until recently, I had been an avid consumer of pancakes rather than a producer. Yes, I know that they are so simple a child can make them. No, I do not want to comment on my general inadequacy in this department any further!
But in my defence, I will say that I can actually drag myself out of my comfort zone occasionally, particularly if there is the hope of something tasty at the end of it, or if other people are relying on me to come up with the goods. There was a bit of both these factors going on last week when somebody from supermarket chain Morrisons got hold of me and asked if I would be willing to take the seasonal pancake challenge and come up with some pancake recipes for them. They also offered to send me a box of seasonal ingredients and some pancake-making kit - sounded like a fair trade, particularly as they said I didn’t actually have to make the pancakes, just send the recipes!
The gigantic box duly arrived, complete with four seasonal ingredients (three savoury and one sweet), 2 non-stick frying pans, a scale and utentils (whisk, ladle and spatula) and I had to put my thinking cap on. I also had to put my pancake-making skills to the test. Or, umm, grow some – fast!
I already had ideas for the savoury ingredients, but when I think of pancakes I always tend to think of sweet ones, so I thought I’d kick off my Big Pancake Experiment with something sweet… yet spicy. Of course, the first hurdle was the big pancake/crepe decision: thin lke on the streets of Paris, or fluffy as served with maple syrup and bacon in the USA?? In the end I thought I’d start with classic crepes, and what could be more classic than Nutella crepes – the staple of pavement crepe vendors around the world? Plus this would work well eith the hazelnuts!
I usually find Nutella a little too sweet, so I started off my thinking how I would reduce the sweetness a little or at least counter it. I had made a spicy Mexican chocolate sauce for my Mexican birthday party last year, so I thought I might have a play around with that theme. I also didn’t want to just do a plain rolled up crepe, hence the stack.
1. Making crepes is really easy – the hardest part is getting an even layer of batter all over the pan…
2. Nutella should always be mixed with cinnamon and chile powder – it’s divine.
3. If you have ever been to Munich Oktoberfest and remember the distinctive aroma of cinnamon and Nutella in the fairground, this recipe will recreate it in your very own kitchen!
4. Clearly this recipe has the wow factor – Nick does not even like dessert, and he was making appreciative noises with every bite. So I can guarantee that it is a winner
If you are thinking of making some pancakes for pancake day on the 16th, why not leave me a comment on this post telling me about your favourite pancake filling and put yourself in line to receive a pancake making parcel consisting of a retro kitchen scale, a non-stick frying pan, a ladle, spatula and whisk – picture at bottom of post, all courtesy of Morrissons. All comments left by midnight on Saturday 13 February will be put through a randomizer and a winner will be chosen. Please note that I am only able to ship to the UK.
MEXICAN CHOCOLATE & HAZELNUT CREPE STACK (serves 4)
FOR THE PANCAKES:
1 cup plain flour
1 tsp caster sugar
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
about 50g hazelnuts
FOR THE CHOCOLATE SAUCE:
1 small jar of Nutella (about 250g)
a pinch of chile powder (or more, if you like it hot)
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
a little milk
Start by preparing the pancake batter. If using an electric beater, place all the ingredients in the bowl and beat until thoroughly mixed. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again to ensure that there are no lumps. If using a whisk, sift the flour, sugar and cinnamon into a bowl, beat together the eggs and milk and pour the liquid into the flour. Whisk vigorously until everything is thoroughly mixed and there are no lumps. If you are feeling like a perfectionist, strain the batter into a jug to remove any stray lumps (I didn’t and my pancakes were lump-free!). Allow to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Place the whole hazelnuts on a baking sheet in a 180C pre-heated oven for about 5 minutes. Remove, place in a kitchen towel and rub vigorously to remove the skins. Crush lightly.
For the Nutella filling, place the Nutella and spices in a small saucepan over gentle heat. Add about 2 Tbsp milk and stir continuously – the Nutella will be too thick and what you need is something the consistency of molasses. Add milk until te desired consistency is reached and the Nutella mix is lump-free.
To make the pancakes, heat a non-stick frying pan (or moisten a paper towel with a little sunflower oil and rub all over an ordinary frying pan and heat). Make sure you use a pan that has a rounded shape, not a 90 degree straight angle between the base and the sides. When the pan is hot, pour a ladleful of the batter onto the base and swirl the pan around till the batter coats the base – the thinner the better! Cook until lots of little bubbles appear on the top surface and the edges start to brown. Loosen the pancake from the base of the pan with a gentle shake. Place an egg-lifter underneath the pancake and flip it over, cook for a minute or so, then remove to a warm plate.
Once you have finished all your batter and made your pancakes, assemble. Start with a pancake, then spread some of the Nutella mix on it (you may have to keep the Nutella mix over gentle heat to keep it spreadable) and sprinkle with chopped toasted hazelnuts. Place another pancake on top and repeat until all pancakes, Nutella and nuts have been used up (finish with some Nutella and nuts). Cut and serve immediately.