Ricotta is one of those foods that’s just so good, sometimes you can’t even believe it. You know what I mean: like a perfectly ripe, red strawberry; a chunk of fresh-baked, yeasty bread; a square of the darkest, most rich chocolate. These foods… you take just a single bite, and are blown away by the deliciousness. In my opinion, fresh ricotta (among, let’s be honest, a number of other types of cheese) is high on that list of amazing culinary treats. The creamy cheese is simultaneously light and so rich. The flavor is pure and uncomplicated, yet utterly addicting, too.
Last month, I featured fresh ricotta in a spring appetizer with green peas, crusty bread, good olive oil, and plenty of mint. What is amazing about ricotta is that it’s an incredibly versatile ingredient. The light flavor allows this cheese to easily tread that fine line between savory and sweet – it works just as magnificently as the filling to a layer cake as it does spooned over a pasta dish dressed with rich, meaty bolognese. My personal favorite way to enjoy ricotta (it’s simple, too) is spread on toast with a thick swipe of fruit jam.
In this recipe, I added a good portion of ricotta cheese to a simple pancake batter for that elusive, light-as-air, souffle-like texture that’s hallmark of a delicious pancake. I’ve found that this traditional breakfast dish can actually be quite difficult to execute. It’s finicky, and beware if the ratio of wet to dry ingredients is slightly off, the pan isn’t quite the right temperature, or you flip your cakes one too many times. I know, as I’ve made these mistakes often enough, and ended up with pancakes that were either liquid in the middle, or hard as a hockey puck!
One reliable principle to follow when when cooking pancakes is to heat your pan hot before adding the batter. A bit of water dropped over top should sizzle! Then, reduce the heat to medium, so the batter has a chance to cook through. My mom taught me another important trick: always use a combination of butter and oil in the pan. The former adds flavor, while the latter prevents burning. Finally, try to only flip each pancake one time – this will keep your cakes light and fluffy! Follow these tips, and I know that your ricotta pancakes will be light, lovely, and perfectly delicious.
Adapted from The Kitchn
Makes 3 servings (6 pancakes)
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 2 eggs, separated
- 3/4 cup milk or almond milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1 cup flour
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- butter and canola oil, for cooking
- Pour off any liquid on top of ricotta. Place in a large bowl. Add egg yolks, milk, vanilla, and lemon zest and whisk until smooth.
- In a small bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add to wet ingredients and fold until just combined.
- In a clean bowl, beat egg whites until stiff. Fold into pancake batter just until smooth.
- Heat a griddle over medium-high heat until quite hot. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add a small amount of butter and canola oil and swirl until pan is coated.
- Spoon about 1/2 cup batter onto pan for each pancake. Cook 3-4 minutes, until lightly browned on bottom and small bubbles appear on top. Flip, then cook 2-3 minutes more, until golden brown. Repeat with remaining batter.