Pumpkin-Ricotta Pancakes with Chunky Apple-Raisin Sauce
As a kid, every now and then my mom would make pancakes for dinner--we called it backwards day, and I loved the idea of it. I prefer pancakes that are moist and light and delicious. The trick is to use ricotta cheese and egg whites to lighten the batter--then you'll get nice fluffy pancakes every time. Serve these with a batch of apple compote with some golden raisin action and you’ll be a winner every time.
For the compote: Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the apples, cinnamon stick, star anise, and brown sugar. Cook until the apples are softened, about 4 minutes, then add the cider. Bring the mixture to a boil and reduce to a simmer (BTB, RTS), then continue cooking until the liquid has reduced by half.
Add the maple syrup and raisins. Simmer for another 3 to 4 minutes or until slightly thickened. Remove from the heat and serve spooned over the pancakes, dusted with powdered sugar if desired. Try not to eat too many.
For the pancakes: Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F.
In a medium bowl, combine the pumpkin, ricotta, milk, vanilla, and egg yolks. In a large bowl, combine the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt. Make a hole in the center of the flour mixture and add the pumpkin mixture and mix gently to combine.
In a medium bowl, combine the egg whites with a pinch of salt. Using an electric mixer or whisk, beat the egg whites until they hold stiff peaks and look very fluffy, like snowdrifts.
Using a rubber spatula, add a small scoop of the egg whites and mix it into the batter to lighten the mixture. Once combined, scoop a third of the egg whites into the pumpkin batter and fold to gently combine. Repeat this process two more times until all the whites have been added. Do this gently but quickly--the idea is to not squish the air out of the egg whites. This is the secret to keeping the pancakes fluffy!
Place a griddle over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, drop a pat or two of butter onto the griddle. Once melted, schmear the butter around and wipe up any excess with a paper towel.
Using a medium ice cream scoop or a small ladle, pour the batter onto the buttered griddle to create 3-inch pancakes. Let the pancakes cook until bubbles appear on the surface, burst, and then stay open--this will take about 5 minutes. Flip the pancakes and cook the second side until golden brown. Place the cooked pancakes on a sheet tray and place in a warm oven. Re-butter the griddle and repeat until all the batter is gone or everyone is full. Hold the finished pancakes in the warm oven.