You know what I really love (besides pancakes)? The things that you just know are going to be good before you get to try them. Black sesame soft-serve. This nubbly sweater that just came in the mail. (But not the other one that I’m returning. Or the shirt.) Emoji updates. (Tacos! Cheese!) Everything about this. It’s like you see it, you just know, and that’s pretty much exactly how I felt when I saw this caramelized banana French toast last year. Cloaked in buttery brown sugar caramel, gently spiced, and cradled by carbs, it was Sunday morning perfection — I don’t know if I’d ever given thought to caramelized banana goodness in breakfast before then, but I’m now convinced it belongs in any and all breakfasts imaginable.
Like, say, pancakes! I mean, the extra sauce from the caramelized bananas is its own pancake syrup — it was meant to be. So I paired this new crush with my old favorite, and this is what resulted. I took my cues from Kenji and added a touch of oat flour to give the pancakes enough heartiness to stand up to the bananas, along with some brown butter for extra warmth. I’m loathe to say anything bad about pancakes, but if there was one thing (other than the fact that they aren’t bottomless), it’s that they tend to blow me up like a balloon yet leave me hungry again a few hours later — so I liked that the oats helped with that. And then I went and undid that healthfulness by finishing these with generous dollops of bourbon-spiked whipped cream. (Though you could totally swap out the whip for Greek yogurt, which would really make this breakfast stick.) All in all, the many things at play here are all notes on the same scale, even if they refused to all fit in the post title — things toasted, browned, and caramelized, gently coaxed into warming flavors that aren’t quite autumnal yet (guys, I’m still not ready) but full of comfort and lazy weekend vibes. Hope your weeks ahead are full of the same, friends!
- for the bourbon whip:
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream, very cold
- 2 tsp bourbon
- 1 tsp confectioners' sugar
- for the pancakes:
- 2 tbsp (1 oz) butter, plus more for the pan (or oil)
- 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
- 1/2 cup milk (alternatively, use 1 cup buttermilk and omit the Greek yogurt)
- for the caramelized bananas:
- 1 firm banana, sliced
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1/8 tsp cinnamon
- roughly chopped roasted hazelnuts
- For the bourbon whip: Use an electric mixer or stand mixer to beat the cream to soft peaks. (Make sure your cream is as cold as possible, which aids in whipping.) Lower the speed to medium and trickle in the bourbon, then the powdered sugar. Increase speed back to medium-high and whip just until firm peaks, taking care not to overbeat. The whipped cream should set more once it rests. Chill in the refrigerator while you make the pancakes.
- For the pancakes: Toast the oats in a skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the oats smell fragrant and nutty and begin to turn darker. Pour the oats into a blender or food processor and blend on high speed until finely ground, about one minute. (This can be done ahead of time.)
- Wipe out the skillet and add the butter. Cook over low heat, swirling constantly, until the butter turns a deep brown and smells nutty, about 2 minutes. Pour into a bowl and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, oat flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- To the bowl with the brown butter, add the egg, yogurt, and milk, and whisk together until well-combined. (Note: For a fluffier pancake, separate the egg and add the egg yolk only in this step. Whisk the egg white to medium peaks, and keep separate until just before cooking the pancakes.)
- Add the dry mixture to the wet and mix gently until mostly incorporated. As always, a few lumps are okay and good. (If you beat the egg white, add it here and mix just until wisps of egg white are still visible.)
- Heat a skillet over medium-low heat and grease lightly with more butter or oil. When skillet is hot enough that a water droplet will dance when dropped onto the surface, pour about 3-4 tablespoons of batter onto the skillet. I used a 1/4 cup measuring cup, which works well and also keeps the counter fairly drip-free. When bubbles form in the batter and leave a brief hole when they pop, flip the pancake and let cook on the other side for one or two more minutes, or until golden-brown. Remove to a plate, then repeat until batter is gone. You can keep the pancakes that are done in the oven on its lowest setting to keep warm.
- For the bananas: Wipe out the skillet to get rid of any pancake bits. Melt one more tablespoon of butter in the skillet over medium heat. Add the brown sugar and cinnamon and stir just until the sugar dissolves. Add the bananas and hazelnuts and stir to coat, then let cook until caramel is thick and bubbly. Serve immediately over pancakes, spooning plenty of the extra sauce over top. Garnish with extra hazelnuts and bourbon whip, and enjoy!
Feel free to replace the bourbon whipped cream with Greek yogurt, which would both simplify and lighten up the recipe a bit. If you don't happen to have oats around, 1 cup all-purpose flour (total) will serve you just fine instead.
Oh, and I almost forgot to mention! This will make considerably more bourbon whip than you will need (unless you're a whipped cream eating machine). Here's a suggestion for the extra -- fold about 1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk and a touch of vanilla extract into it, then pop it into the freezer for no-churn bourbon ice cream! (I did a crazy thing and added a half-teaspoon of matcha powder, and it made the most unexpectedly tasty matcha bourbon ice cream, but I won't force that on you unless you're weird like me.)