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Coconut pancakes add delicious twist to breakfast

Pancakes with toasted coconut. Dave Wallis / The Forum

We love pancakes and have enjoyed them in both sweet and savory varieties. We also love coconut, whether it's in cookies, bars, pies or just toasted and sprinkled over ice cream. This week we're sharing a recipe for Fluffy Coconut Pancakes that combines both of these favorites to create a breakfast treat that has us craving more.

This recipe takes a different spin from traditional pancakes, as the base is scant on flour and heavy on eggs. This results in a lovely, fluffy texture that is slightly richer and denser than a regular flapjack, without being overly eggy. To ensure a robust coconut flavor is achieved, the batter features coconut in three forms: flour, oil and flakes.

Coconut flour is used instead of all-purpose flour, so it is free from wheat and other grains, making it an excellent gluten-free specialty. Coconut flour is made from pure coconut and is high in fiber, protein and healthy fats. Because there is no gluten, coconut flour works best when used with other flours or eggs that will help the batter to rise as it cooks. Coconut flour is available in our local grocery stores and is usually found in the gluten-free or health food aisles; it will keep in the refrigerator or freezer for several months.

For more coconut flavor, we use coconut oil as the fat for this recipe. Once considered a pariah among nutrition experts, coconut oil has recently been re-embraced because of its high content of natural saturated fats, which help to convert our body's bad cholesterol into good cholesterol.

Coconut oil is typically in a solid state, so before using in this recipe I melt it over low heat until it becomes liquid, and then let it cool a bit before adding it to the egg mixture.

The final burst of coconut comes from coconut flakes, which are mixed into the batter along with the dry ingredients. We've made these pancakes with both plain and toasted coconut flakes, and we have found that the toasted flakes just don't work as well as they can be too dry for this batter. But they are excellent when served as a topping with warm maple syrup. Other toppings could include whipped cream, fresh fruit, toasted nuts and, for an extra punch of tropical flavor, a sprinkling of lime zest will do the trick.

Our recipe is rounded out with milk, vanilla extract (always pure), baking powder, salt and a smidge of sugar. You can use skim, two-percent or whole milk, depending on your preference. I experimented once by using coconut milk in place of cow's milk, but its higher fat content tends to yield a less than satisfying result, so I only use cow's milk with this recipe

These pancakes are easy to make and cook quickly, taking only about 15 minutes from start to finish. More important, they are a lovely and delicious twist to a classic breakfast favorite.

Fluffy Coconut Pancakes

Makes 6 to 8 pancakes

Ingredients:

4 large or extra-large eggs

¼ cup milk

3 tablespoons coconut oil, in liquid state

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

¼ cup coconut flour

1 tablespoon sugar

¼ cup coconut flakes

¼ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

Directions:

Heat a griddle or large skillet over medium heat. In a separate pan (or in the microwave), melt the coconut oil over low heat until it turns to liquid; allow to cool a bit before adding to the egg mixture.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla until frothy. In a separate bowl, mix the coconut flour, sugar, coconut flakes, baking powder and salt until combined. Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture and use a fork to stir until the batter is smooth with no lumps remaining.

Grease the griddle or skillet well with oil or butter. Use a ladle or measuring cup to pour the batter onto the hot griddle, about ¼-cup for each pancake. Cook until small bubbles form on top, about 3 to 4 minutes, then flip pancake and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes until cooked through and lightly golden on the bottom. Serve immediately.

For more tropical flavor, add ¼ teaspoon of lime zest to the batter.

Recommended toppings: Warm maple syrup, fresh fruit, citrus zest, toasted coconut, toasted nuts and whipped cream.

"Home With the Lost Italian" is a weekly column written by Sarah Nasello featuring recipes by her husband, Tony Nasello. The couple owned Sarello's in Moorhead and lives in Fargo with their 12-year-old son, Giovanni. Readers can reach them at sarahnasello//thelostitalian.areavoices.com.

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