It should have been a glorious occasion – having your braces removed after 2+ years. Instead, he walks out with a frown. “What’s the matter?” my wide eyes say. “Let me see,” I cheerily encourage. And he opens his mouth (with perfectly straight, white teeth – I had forgotten what they looked like) and declares “I have a retainer.” Yep, that’s kind of typical – darn that orthodontist for protecting our investment of time and money. Then he continues “there is a wire – on the front of my teeth.” Apparently “no one” has this. He is the only person without either a clear retainer or one that is permanently affixed on the back side of your teeth (so you can’t see it). The countdown has begun for when he can stop wearing the retainers (which are ruining his life, mind you) full time. 87 days, in case you were wondering.
For the new year, I decided to subscribe to New York Times Cooking. For about a year now, they would send me an email with all of these tempting recipes and unless you are a subscriber, you can’t access them. Psych! This recipe caught my eye, of course: 1) Bobby Flay, 2) chocolate. As we were eating them (and receiving rave reviews from Elizabeth and David, my toughest critics), we were discussing whether you would serve this for breakfast or as a dessert. We decided: both! (and kept eating).
For traditional and homemade pancakes, check out these recipes.
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
- 1 1/4 cups buttermilk, at room temperature
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for the pan
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder (I opted out of this ingredient)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt (I used Kosher)
- 3 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (or mini semi-sweet chocolate chips)
- Salted Caramel Sauce, warm, recipe follows
- Confectioner's sugar, optional
- Raspberries, optional
Salted Caramel Sauce:
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3/4 teaspoon fleur de sel or other coarse sea salt
Whisk together the eggs, both kinds of sugar, buttermilk, butter, and vanilla in a small bowl until smooth. Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Add the egg mixture and whisk until just combined. Fold in the chocolate, cover, and let rest for 15 minutes.
If you want to make the entire batch of pancakes and serve all at once, preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
Heat nonstick saute pan over medium heat. Brush with butter and continue heating until the butter begins to foam. Drop about a 1/4 cup of batter onto the pan. Bake until bubbles start to form and burst, about 2 minutes. Flip and cook to set the other side, another 1 to 2 minutes. As the pancakes are ready, put them in a single layer on the baking sheet and keep warm in the oven until ready to serve.
Stack the pancakes on plates, drizzle with the warm caramel sauce, and top with a sprinkling of confectioners' sugar and some raspberries, if desired.
Salted Caramel Sauce:
Combine the sugar and 1/4 cup cold water in a medium saucepan over high heat. Cook, without stirring or touching, until the sugar turns a deep amber color, 8 to 10 minutes (watch it carefully – it turns golden and then burns very quickly).
Meanwhile, warm the cream in a small saucepan or in the microwave. When the caramel is ready, slowly whisk in the cream and continue simmering until the mixture is smooth, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and salt until combined. Serve warm.