Brunching at home? Your family will love Judge Rosemarie Aquilina’s ricotta pancakes and whipped cream with a twist!
By Rosemarie Aquilina
Photography by Viviana Pernot
Ricotta is a staple in our household and used in many pasta recipes. For special occasions during my childhood, my mother made ricotta pancakes. They are light and fluffy, and we always fought over the last one. My three siblings preferred them topped with syrup, my father added jam and my mother and I loaded ours with fresh fruit and whipped cream. Even plain, these surprise and surpass other pancakes. My sister-in-law makes them with vegan ricotta “cheese,” and they turn out great.
4 eggs, separated (any size, but I like to use jumbo)
1½ tablespoons sugar
1 cup ricotta cheese with whole milk, drained of excess water in container
½ cup all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt or salt substitute
Butter for griddle
Separate eggs, placing egg whites in a stand mixer, and set aside egg yolk in a bowl. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form. With mixer off or on low, add sugar and then beat until stiff peaks form. Scrape sides down a few times to ensure sugar and all whites are incorporated. Pour stiff egg mixture into another bowl and set aside.
In the mixing bowl you just emptied, combine egg yolks, ricotta cheese, flour, baking powder and salt. Beat until smooth.
Fold ¼ of stiff egg whites into ricotta mixture, blend carefully, not letting the air out of the egg whites. Fold in the remaining egg whites. Do not over mix. The batter should look like fluffy pancake batter.
Heat griddle to medium or medium low depending on your stove. Wipe butter (or oil) on the bottom of a griddle. If you sprinkle a few drops of water and they sizzle, the griddle is hot enough. I use a gravy spoon, scooping about ¼ cup of batter, to place batter onto the buttered griddle. Because this batter is fluffy, spread it immediately with the edge of the spoon into a circle. The beauty of homemade pancakes is that they don’t have to be perfectly round.
When the edges appear to be cooked, it is time to flip with a spatula. Pancakes should be golden on each side.
As the griddle gets warmer you may have to decrease heat or cooking time. Place the pancakes on a serving platter and keep in the oven heated to 175 degrees F, until all are finished. Serve with whipped cream, fresh fruit, jam and syrup.
Coffee-Flavored Whipped Cream
My family and I are lovers of all things coffee — and coffee with whipped cream. Several years ago when Starbucks came out with its Instant Via Ready Brew Coffee, which I keep on hand to travel with, I was preparing a dessert bar for my family. I decided to vary the table with various flavored whipping creams. I added instant coffee into a batch of whipping cream. It was a hit, and my family and nephews now expect it to be on my table. I serve it with coffee, pancakes and pound cake. I often simply eat it by spoonfuls as is!
All ingredients need to be cold for best results.
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons, up to ¼ cup, of powdered sugar
1 teaspoon real vanilla extract
1 packet of Starbucks Via Instant Coffee, any roast you prefer
Chill mixing bowl of a stand mixer in freezer for at least 15 minutes, or place ice and water inside until the bowl is cold. Wipe inside of bowl dry. Place bowl onto stand.
Pour whipping cream into bowl and begin to beat with wire whisk slowly. Then increase the speed to avoid spraying you.
Add confectioners’ sugar and continue to whip. The amount of confectioners’ sugar depends on how sweet you like it. My mother prefers it sweeter; I prefer a hint of sweetness.
Add vanilla extract. Beat until stiff peaks form. Do not overbeat or you will create butter.
Add Via Instant Coffee. Beat until blended. Taste. Usually one packet is enough. A second packet can be used but may make the flavor too strong or bitter.
Place in a chilled serving bowl and refrigerate until needed.
Options for other fun whipped cream flavors:
Be creative! Omit the Via coffee packet and add any of the following, adjusting the amount for your taste:
1 teaspoon espresso powder
2 – 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, mixed in with the powdered sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, or ground apple pie spice, or ground pumpkin pie spice
2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons salted caramel sauce
2 tablespoons your favorite berry jam
1 tablespoon your favorite pancake syrup