Kathy Maister's Start Cooking

How to Make Pancakes

posted in Breakfast and Brunch, Vegetarian by Kathy Maister

Pancakes are eaten all over the world. Here at startcooking.com I have three different recipes which you can choose from to make pancakes:

  1. Chocolate Chip Pancakes from Scratch (video)
  2. Crepes With Nutella (video) (Crepes are a very thin, flat pancake)
  3. From a box mix (today’s photo-tutorial)

If you make crepes or pancakes from “scratch” you will need: flour, baking powder, vanilla sugar, salt, milk, butter, eggs, and vegetable oil. If you are just learning how to cook, all of these ingredients are in fact, an important part of a well stocked cupboard.

BUT, given that this is startcooking.com I’m going to show you how to make pancakes with a box mix.

Before buying the box mix, check the ingredients necessary to make that particular box mix. Some require only water. Some want you to add eggs, milk and sometimes vegetable oil to the box mix. Don’t leave the grocery store until you have read the back of the box of your pancake mix!

This particular mix requires only water. (The directions on the back of the box are usually done very well; often including a picture drawing of what to do!)

Using a medium size bowl, measure out the pancake mix into the bowl; be sure to level off the top of the measuring cup.

Now add the water. Use a glass measuring cup with a spout. It will make measuring and pouring the water easier.

Blend it all together with a whisk or a fork until everything is just combined. (No vigorous beating here!)

Preheat a large fry pan on medium heat for about one minute.

You will know when the pan is hot enough when you drop a few drop of water on the fry pan and they dance and sizzle! (There is a good visual of this in my Stir Fry Video)

Once the pan is hot, add 1 ½ tablespoons of vegetable oil.

You could use butter, but butter burns more quickly than vegetable oil so it can get a bit tricky if your pan gets too hot.

Using a ¼ cup measure, scoop up some batter, hold the cup about 2-3 inches from the surface of the pan, and pour the batter into the pan.

Try and make them nice and rounded. You could mush it around a bit with the back of a spoon to try and get them rounder. It may take a little practice! I like to make about 3 or 4 pancakes at a time.

Tempting as it is to make one giant pancake – I wouldn’t recommend it: it’s really tricky to flip!

There are lots of different topping you could add at this point.

Chocolate chips, coconut, chopped nuts, raspberries, blueberries, bananas, and raisins are some sweet options. For savory pancakes try shredded cheese or cooked bacon.

All you do is sprinkle your extras onto the uncooked side of the pancake. This way, everything gets evenly distributed. (Some recipes will have you add the extras to the batter but I prefer to sprinkle them on the top.)

Let the pancakes cook until you see all little bubbles on the surface of the pancake.

Using a spatula take a peek on the underside to see if they are ready to flip. They should be beautifully browned.

Now cook the flip side until it is nice and brown. The flip side never gets quite as browned or looks quite as good as the top side. The flip side takes only about half the cooking time of the first side.

Don’t keep flipping the pancakes. Flip once and that’s it!

You can keep your pancakes warm in a 200 degree oven until you have finished cooking them all.

There are of course many different types of syrup you can pour over your pancakes, but my favorite is good old fashioned maple syrup!

Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • One box of pancake mix
  • Vegetable oil
  • Syrup

Optionall Ingredients:

  • Blueberries
  • Chocolate chips
  • Coconut
  • Chopped Nuts
  • Raspberries
  • Bananas
  • Raisins
  • Shredded Cheese
  • Cooked bacon

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Strawberries Dipped in Chocolate

print recipe card posted in Sweets by Kathy Maister
Difficulty:

What a treat! Everyone knows it’s a celebration when you are served strawberries dipped in chocolate! Learning how to make them isn’t difficult but may take a bit of practice figuring out how to dip and not drop the strawberries in the melted chocolate!

Buy medium size berries – two bites is the prefect size. As beautiful as those giant ones are, they are too hard to eat!

Gently rinse the berries in cool water…

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…and then spread them out on a clean dish towel to dry.

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Let them dry completely before you start dipping. Not a drop of water should be left on the berries.

In addition to dipping the strawberries in chocolate, you can also dip the edges in coconut, chopped nuts, sprinkles or nonpareils. (Those are those colored candy dots in the photo above.)

Eight ounces of chocolate will cover about 12-14 medium-large strawberries. You can use any type of chocolate you prefer – dark, milk, semi-sweet or white chocolate.

(Note: A block of white chocolate is a lot tastier than “white chocolate chips, which are only “chocolate flavored” and not the real thing!)

If you are using a chocolate bar or a block of chocolate, chop it into small pieces…

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…and then put the chocolate in a small microwave safe dish. Melt it, in the microwave, for about 1 minute and 30 seconds on medium. (Don’t cover the dish!)

When melting chocolate chips, they will not really change shape that much until you give it a stir.

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The goal is to slowly melt the chocolate, not bring it to a boil. If it still isn’t melted, continue melting in 15 second increments in the microwave. Stir the chocolate. It should be smooth and have no lumps.

 

Once the chocolate is melted, start dipping.

Try to cover about 2/3 of the strawberry with chocolate. It looks prettier than covering the entire strawberry.

Then gently dip the strawberry into one of your additional toppings.

When you do the dipping, be sure to hold back the green top so that it does not get covered in chocolate.

If you are having difficulty holding the strawberry, skewer it, just under the green bit, with a toothpick.

You are less likely to drop the strawberry if you hold it with a toothpick. (There are all sorts of chocolate dipping tools for sale as well.)

Put the dipped berries on some wax paper to set. They should be stored in the refrigerator, and eaten at room temperature, within 24 hours.

Enjoy!

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Chocolate Fudge

print recipe card posted in Sweets by Kathy Maister
Difficulty:

Valentine’s Day is coming up soon, so it’s time to start thinking about chocolate! (Actually, I don’t need a holiday to think about chocolate!)

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This blogpost is all about learning how to make fudge. Chocolate lovers may also want to check out my post on Chocolate Fondue and…

How to Make Strawberries Dipped in Chocolate.

For the fudge you will need:

    • 1 pound of fine-quality milk chocolate
    • ½ stick of unsalted butter (OR 1/4 cup or 2 oz. or 56 g)
    • One 14-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk
    • ¼ teaspoon of salt
    • ½ teaspoon of vanilla (optional)

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You may have noticed something weird in that list, and be thinking, why do you use unsalted butter and then add salt to the recipe? The answer is that lots of recipes are written that way, because you have more control over the amount of salt in the recipe with that approach. If you want (or if you have to) you can substitute salted for unsalted butter in this recipe, but your fudge may end up with a noticeably saltier flavor.

There is a HUGE difference between sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk. This recipe calls for sweetened condensed milk.

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Evaporated Milk and Sweetened Condensed Milk

Evaporated milk has no added sugar and is slightly thicker and richer than regular milk. Sweetened condensed milk is very thick and very sweet. They are not interchangeable ingredients.

Let’s startcooking!

Line the bottom of an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper or wax paper. (The original recipe I saw said to line only the bottom of the pan. However, if you cut off a slightly larger sheet of parchment paper and do at least two of the sides as well, it will make it much easier to get the fudge out of the pan after it has hardened.)

You can buy parchment paper right next to the tin foil and the plastic wrap at the grocery store. It’s specially made to be used for cooking.

For the next step, I’ll first give you a quick overview and then provide more detail.

The quick overview is that we’re going to place a metal bowl on top of a pan of barely simmering water, and gently heat all the ingredients, stirring occasionally, until smooth.

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Now for just a bit more detail about this step!

You can buy pans that are designed to fit into one another, leaving space at the bottom for water. They are called “double-boilers” and can get pretty expensive. Fortunately, you don’t really need one for this recipe. A regular bowl over a normal pan works just fine. However, you have to make sure that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. The whole point of a *double boiler* is to melt/cook things very gently by having the steam from the water (not the water itself) heat the upper bowl!

Put a couple of inches of water in a sauce pan and bring it to a simmer. (No rapid bubbles, just gentle little bubbles!)

While the water is heating, break up the chocolate into small bits. You could cut it with a knife.

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Or (and this is the fun version) just slam the wrapped chocolate bar against the counter. When you unwrap it, it should be broken up into bits.

Put the chocolate in a medium bowl. Add the butter, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla, and the salt to the bowl.

Set the bowl over the simmering water. Give the chocolate mixture an occasional stir. When everything is smooth, blended, and all melted, pour it into the prepared pan (the one with the parchment paper.)

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Put it in the refrigerator. DO NOT COVER THE FUDGE! (If you cover it, too much condensation will form and ruin your beautiful fudge!) Let it chill for about 4 hours or until it is totally firm and then cover it with plastic wrap.

To cut the fudge, run a butter knife around edges of pan and invert the fudge onto a cutting board.

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I do hope you put the parchment up at least two sides of the pan! Otherwise, right about now you are saying: “She’s crazy, I’m never going to get this out of the pan”! If you can get your knife to the edge of the parchment paper, that should be enough to loosen it. If that doesn’t work, after you have run your knife around the edge of the pan, cut out a small corner. Taste it. (Yes, it’s delicious, and no, you can’t just eat it from the pan!) Now slip your knife under the parchment paper and the fudge should come out of the pan. (This is the hardest step of this entire recipe!)

Remove the parchment paper.

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With a ruler, score the fudge with lines about one inch apart. This way you will get nice even pieces.

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You can slice your fudge ahead of the time you plan to serve it, but store it in the refrigerator!

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Storing and Serving Fudge:

My kitchen tends to get very warm so I always store fudge in the refrigerator. Store fudge in an airtight tin, with a piece of wax paper between each layer. It should keep on the counter (out of the sun) about 2 weeks, in the refrigerator about 2-3 weeks, and in the freezer about 2-3 months. To keep it really moist, you can store the entire “block” of fudge and only cut it when you are ready to serve it. It’s best eaten at room temperature.

Enjoy!

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