1 1/2 cups flour
2 tablespoons pure cane sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch fine sea salt
2 large eggs, separated
1 cup buttermilk
6 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly, plus more for the pan
2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
1 teaspoon vanilla
Nonstick cooking spray, optional
1 pound fresh Bing cherries, pitted
1/2 cup sugar
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped and reserved
1/4 cup kirsch or cherry brandy
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. Set a baking rack over a baking sheet.
For the pancakes: Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and the buttermilk. Add the cream cheese and mix until combined (the mixture will look broken). Stir in the melted butter, orange zest and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir to combine. Whisk the egg whites in another bowl until soft peaks form, then gently fold into the batter.
Heat a griddle or cast-iron pan over medium heat until a drop of water sizzles; brush with melted butter or spray with nonstick cooking spray. Drop the batter into the pan by 1/3 cupfuls, leaving space between each pancake. (This batter is thicker than regular pancake batter and will take a bit longer to cook and won't bubble as much.) Cook until golden brown on the bottom and just starting to dry a bit on top, adjusting the heat as necessary so the pancakes don't get too brown, about 4 minutes. Flip and cook until the reverse side is golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the finished pancakes to the baking sheet and keep warm in the oven.
For the syrup: Heat the cherries, sugar, lemon juice and vanilla bean and seeds in a large high-sided pan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring, until the cherries soften and the sugar dissolves, about 10 minutes.
Remove the pan from heat and add the kirsch; return to the heat and ignite with a match. Using a spoon, baste the cherries with the liqueur and juices until the flame dies out. Spoon over the pancakes to serve.
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