Chai-Spiced Cinnamon Roll Pancakes

Oh look, another post in which I have five false starts of horrible rambly blabber and a fair bit of delirious dribbling. Hopefully this time I don’t sound like full-on-drunkard yodelling about the meaning of life sitting in a shopping trolley in a parking lot at 3am, which might scare you away.

Is it snowing where you are? Here in Singapore we have the fun yo-yo of heavy rain every afternoon or scorching sun with 90% humidity, what fun! Don’t get me wrong–even though the air here is thicker than the earth’s crust and everything is wet and hot and sweaty and…moist…hear that, MOIST–I guess we are quite lucky that there is sun all year round and we have our sun rises and sun sets quite regularly, I couldn’t live with 3pm sunsets like some of you guys in the UK do! I’ll be awfully depressed.  And we also don’t have to deal with massive snow storms, which is a plus I guess, but man I’ve never honestly been to a winter country before. Until this year; I’ll be going to Sapporo in Japan for vacation in about a week’s time! And it is SNOWING there. At least the roads are white and icy and the temperature is set quite nicely around freezing point. I’m not going to lie, it is exciting, but also intimidating.

Are you a warm or a cold person? Not in terms of temperament, but I think I deal better with heat than chill for both facets (and really need to work on my temper). Don’t get me wrong, on the days where the sun goes full-on turbo in Singapore the lovely frosty kiss the fridge gives you when you open the door is more incentive than any to make that trip off your couch there (and grab some ice cream, or frozen bananas, or a bowl of yogurt with 1000 toppings), and many times the sweet air conditioning of a mall is utter, sheer bliss to sweat-beaded skin after the sun’s relentless battering. But the few times I’ve been hit with cold–especially chilly, chilly RAINY wind in New Zealand, good grief–I was frozen like an icicle. It’s one thing to be under extreme heat–Australia and Singapore have that, and while it’s certainly blistering and potentially hazardous, in Australia it wasn’t too humid so at most it was just uncomfortably hot, and in Singapore I’ve learnt to just…bear through the sticky humidity and thick clotted heat of the tropics. Whereas cold is just–it has you jumping around or frozen to the spot, and it goes deep down to your bones. At least for me. Sure, you have to deal with sunburns (does anyone else find peeling skin fascinating? No? Okay) but for cold it requires defrosting, and clumsy fingers, and basically a sort of uncomfort I have yet to adapt to.

But whilst I am still slightly skeptical and hesitant about diving into frostbitten weather, I must say man–it must be nice to see autumn. All the beautiful auburn and crisped leaves like a veined kaleidoscope of crunchy crispness, and seeing wizened stooped skeletons of trees, and getting all het up over pumpkins and such. And then I am very much looking forward to actually asking someone “Do you wanna build a snowman?” and meaning what I say because there will be snow abound to build legions and platoons of Olafs. And all Frozen references shall stop here because I do not even like it that much. But yes–don’t you think it’s weird how we all share the same globe but have so much different weathers and daytimes and nighttimes and surroundings? Man, don’t call yourself a multitasker unless you’ve met Mother Nature.

Then again, you don’t need snow to appreciate the loveliness of seasonal flavors like chai, and warm spices like cinnamon, and I’m loving persimmon so much lately. Have you tried it? When I was young I remember my mum slicing up beautiful large persimmons–ours are massively orange, not the red ones I’ve seen some of you having–that are so soft and ripe that a gentle prod with your thumb would tear through the skin into sweet, ripe, juicy persimmon. So good. If you haven’t tried it persimmon is lovely–when it’s not mush ripe it has a sort of firmer-than-pear bite but not quite the quick crunch of apple, and a sort of honeyed nectar sweetness without the richness of peach–a very clean, bright sweetness. At any rate they are delicious, and I’m glad to see more people persimmon-appreciating every year. Join the persimmon platoon! Anyway!

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Recently the lady called Sweet Mama Mel (could be a superhero name, to match the wonderful lady) behind the company Sweet Spreads sent me some of their goodies to try. Apart from a particularly enthusiastic slogan (“Spread it! Dip it! Spoon it!” Yeah!) I was immediately drawn in to their line of coconut butters. I’ve never tried coconut butter and have only seen people create homemade ones by whizzing shredded coconut to a smooth, icing like ivory cream but if anything this certainly made me very, very interested to try them. Because man–anything that comes in the flavors Sweet Spreads has named their line of charmingly termed coconutters (6 of them–vanilla cupcake, white chocolate, brownie, cinnamon roll, maple pancake, dark chocolate mint. That is all, ladies and gentlemen) will make you very, very interested indeed. For someone who really loves nut butter, I couldn’t wait to try this coconut butter. And boy, are they great…expect a full post coming soon, but for now the star here is the cinnamon roll coconutter. I put it in the pancakes and boom! pow! You get a hit of festivity like a beautiful firework display, and in pancakes to boot. So amazing.

So, let’s get down to the pancaking. Breaking down each component: we have

chai-spiced cinnamon roll pancakes stuffed with chunks of pear,

vanilla bean caramelised cinnamon apples,

and

a salted chunky whipped date-peanut butter cream

alongside any other nobs you may choose to add, like aforementioned persimmon, toasted coconut chips and pomegranate. If that doesn’t sound good to you, I don’t know what will.

Remember Mother Nature re:multitasking? This is certainly just a little more complex than some of my other recipes–just because there are a few components–but I’ve got it all planned out for you. This baby can be done in practically 20 minutes flat–all you need to do is ensure the apples get on the hob and the cream gets whipping at the right times and voila–everything will be on your plate, no sweat at all. And boy, was this a beautiful plate. You get a massive stack of brown, fluffy cakes, warm from the pan and with a beautiful soft plush crumb scented with the husky notes of chai–cinnamon, star anise, black tea, cardamom and more–and the sticky sweetness of the cinnamon roll coconutter from Sweet Spreads, filled with soft chunks of sweet pear; and then you get apples, beautifully bronzed, smelling absolutely wonderful like apple pie and apple strudel and all kinds of apple-y perfection, cooked and caramelised down to sweet syrupy gooey perfection with the floral, complex musk of deep gritty vanilla bean and the spicy, sweet kick of cinnamon; and for something to cut through all the apple-pear-spice thing we have going on, a dollop of tufty, thick date-peanut butter cream whipped to airy, light and caramelly perfection with the rich lovely roastiness of peanut butter, a hint of sparky salt, and the occasional chunk to keep things interesting. Altogether, it makes an absolutely stonking stack, and is absolutely delicious.

So yes; have this on your plate and you’ll certainly be a very happy camper with your tall stack of spicy, warm, caramelly perfection. And if you have any tips regarding surviving the cold or Sapporo, feel free to leave them down below.

 

chai-spiced cinnamon roll pancakes

You will need:

For the Pancakes

-6 tbs flour (buckwheat/all purpose/whole wheat/spelt/oat are all fine)

-1 tbs coconut flour

-1/4 tsp baking powder

-1/8 tsp baking soda

-1 tsp cinnamon or to taste

-1 large banana, ripe and mashed well

-1 tbs Sweet Spreads Cinnamon Roll Coconutter (optional, but recommended)

-1.5 tbs ground flaxseed soaked in 1/4 cup water overnight or for at least half an hour, or 1 egg

-2 tbs Greek yogurt/coconut cream if you’re vegan

-120-140 ml plant based milk

-1 chai tea bag

-1 tbs maple syrup

-1/2 to 1 pear, chopped into small chunks

For the Apples

-3/4 to 1 apple

-1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste, or 1/4 vanilla bean pod, scraped

-1/2 tbs coconut sugar

-about 1 to 2 tbs water

-1/4 tsp coconut oil (can be omitted, but recommended)

For the Cream

-2 to 3 medjool dates, very soft and pitted

-2 tbs creamy/chunky peanut butter

-1 tbs Greek yogurt/solid coconut cream

-1/4 tsp vanilla bean paste

-1 tsp maple syrup

-pinch Maldon/himalayan sea salt

First, make the pancakes: heat the plant based milk until warm and then steep a chai tea bag in the milk for 2-3 minutes, until infused. Let the milk cool, while preheating your pan on the lowest heat. Then whisk the wet ingredients together, add the dry ingredients on top and mix gently till all incorporated before adding the pear and folding in. Let this sit until the pan is hot enough such that a drop of water hisses loudly and evaporates immediately upon contact; grease well with oil of choice before cooking your pancakes on top. Once the pancake’s edges dull and bubbles appear, they are ready to flip.

When you are halfway through cooking the batter, chop up your apple into small chunks and toss with the coconut sugar and cinnamon. Mix the water, coconut oil and vanilla bean paste in a small saucepan and add the apple on top, scraping out all the juices and sugar/cinnamon in the bowl, and cook on low heat next to the pancakes stirring every so often until soft, golden and when most of the water has gone with only a syrupy residue. Remove from the stove.

Once you are done cooking your pancakes, set them aside with the apples and whip the peanut butter together with the yogurt or coconut cream with a spoon or a small whisk until thick and tufty. Mash the dates against the side of the bowl until a chunky puree and whip together with the peanut butter-yogurt mix before adding the vanilla bean paste, maple syrup and a pinch of salt. Add a small splash of plant based milk if needed to loosen the mix slightly; you should get a thick, frosting like cream. Serve with the pancakes and the apples and enjoy!

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