Friday, March 26, 2010

In Which I Speak of Maple Syrup, Custard, and Little Baby Pancakes

I haven't been as good as I'd hoped in celebrating Wisconsin Maple Syrup month. However, I hope to make up for it by sharing our latest exciting experiment -- maple syrup & pancakes custard.
 Now, like many of the foods made at our house, this particular treat has a bit of a story.
When I was a young girl, I always looked forward to Easter. Every year my cousins and I would spend our "spring break" with my grandparents, who lived about an hour north of the city.  The week was always filled with the usual adolescent high jinks -- traipsing through the woods, wading our bare toes in too-cold marsh water that was left behind by the rapidly melting snow, and playing lots and lots of Canasta (a card game I learned early and played often throughout my childhood). 

My grandmother was never what I would call a "gourmet" cook. So, meal time was always an adventure.  Some things, like the casserole made from hamburger meat and cream of mushroom soup, weren't anything to write home about. But, the week did have its highlights. At breakfast, we'd indulge in fantastic slices of perfectly toasted wheat bread (I am still convinced that vintage toaster made the best toast EVER) mounded with crunchy peanut butter.  Post-breakfast, during moments when Grandma wasn't paying attention, we'd also sneak spoons full of that peanut butter and stuff them into our eager little mouths -- and then hope that she didn't ask us any questions while we were trying to swallow that sticky mess (do you remember that old classic song, Peanut Butter, by the Marathons? yeah -- kinda like that).  At lunch, we feasted on good old-fashioned hard rolls spread generously with butter and topped with garlicky cured summer sausage. 

But, one of my favorite indulgences came after dinner time when Grandpa would spoon up heaping bowls of vanilla ice cream, which were promptly drizzled with maple syrup.

There was really nothing like it.  It was so simple. And yet -- so Incredible. Sweet... ice creamy... mapley... slurpilicious.  I don't know what else to say except -- it's a must-try.  And I really have to congratulate my grandparents for their Depression-inspired ingenuity.

Interestingly enough, the good people at Kopp's Frozen Custard here in Milwaukee must have grown up with grandparents who were similarly inspired.  Because recently, they decided to roll out a new custard flavor called "Maple Syrup and Pancakes".  What could be better?  Even Peef was swooning wth delight.

But, why should we have to wait for Kopp's to make up another batch (the next time it appears on the Flavor Forecast is on April 25th -- a whole month away!)?  We could make it for ourselves, right?

Of course, we'd need to differentiate our version somehow. So, rather than just tossing a bunch of chopped up pancakes in our custard, we decided to take the whole game one step further. We'd make cute little baby pancakes to throw into our custard.

Aren't they totally super cute?   Why are little binky things always so gosh-darned adorable?
(I secretly thought that, if maybe I left a few of these out on the table, we might attract some fantastic tiny little people -- fairies, maybe -- to gobble them up.  But, alas, none showed up. *sad*)

Once we had the pancakes in hand, we mixed up a batch of maple syrup custard (many thanks to David Lebovitz for his constant guidance in our quest for delicious ice cream).

The churned custard was deliciously creamy -- and Very Mapley.  "Just perfect," Peef declared upon a first tasting.  And so we mixed all those delicious little pancakes into the custard, and threw everything into the deep freeze.
Now, I must warn you.  As much as we enjoyed that first taste of custard, the finished product wasn't QUITE what we anticipated.  After spending a bit of time in the freezer, the pancakes in the custard got a little... well, frozen.  So, they weren't quite as texturally pleasing as the ones in the Kopp's version (darn those professional custard places for their secret recipes!).
That said, thanks to the time it takes to shoot the photographs for the blog, we found that the pancakes actually became quite a bit more pliable if they're allowed to sit out for a bit.  So, the custard was definitely edible.  Just not quite perfect.

Despite all the hype (and hope),  I think it's back to the drawing board with this one.  Maybe I can sweet talk those folks over at Kopp's into telling me their secret for keeping the pancakes soft.  In the meantime, if you have any crazy ideas, you let me know!   Peef has already requested that we put a little bit of bacon in the next batch.



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31 comments:

  1. My guess to how Kopps keeps their pancakes pliable is that they mix them in just before serving. Or because custard is not kept as cold as ice cream, the pancakes never fully freeze.

    Or they're mad scientists who have created a pancake that doesn't freeze. ;)

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  2. Ha! I thought of the same comment before I read Melissa's... I've seen them adding the bits in too.

    Meanwhile, maple ice cream sounds like it would be terrific on its own- or maybe with toasted pecans (which I always think taste maple-y on their own). When I try it, I can add in the pancakes (or Burp! Cornmeal Waffes) before I eat it, since we usually have some leftover around here. It's a Luc staple!

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  3. I like the idea of little pancakes. No good ideas for how to solve the issue.

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  4. It did occur to us that adding the pancakes fresh every time would be a solution... but that would be *sad* for those of us who have to keep our custard in the freezer, where it doesn't stay soft enough for mix-ins.

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  5. Something I do to make my GF breads softer and lighter is to seperate the eggs and whip the egg whites. After mixing everything else then I fold in the egg whites. I am not sure if this would help after they have been frozen though...

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  6. I had no idea Kopps had this flavor--brilliant idea. I know it's a hassle, but what if you just whipped up some some pancakes to eat with the custard? It would be like cake and ice cream. Vanilla ice cream with fresh, hot pancakes and maple syrup would be pretty amazing too.

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  7. Wow! Forget cookies'n'cream - I want some maple syrup & pancake frozen custard. This version of pancake a la mode is definitely my kind of dish!

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  8. This is so inspired! I love it - and I love the idea of maple frozen custard. Hello, yumminess!

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  9. Even if you thought it was not perfect, it sounds perfect to me! I could drink maple syrup by the jug, that is how much I love it! ;)

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  10. I just love that! Cuuute baby pancakes. You are so creative :) Maple syrup is amazing. I just bought a dozen pints for myself last Saturday. Will have to try it drizzled over vanilla ice cream. Can you believe I've not tried that yet!?

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  11. I'm sorry your ice cream didn't turn out the way you hoped, but those little pancakes are adorable. The fairies missed out for sure!

    Your story about your grandmother's 90th birthday is wonderful. Simply wonderful.

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  12. Its a great idea I hope you figure out how to perfect it

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  13. Ice cream sandwiches, using pancakes instead of cookies?

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  14. I had frozen custard in WI and I will forever remember the awesomeness that is frozen high butterfat goodness. Too bad it froze too much on you as it looks and sounds pretty delicious.

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  15. Oh Lo maybe it's a planned treat... scoop out a bowl, go do whatever(equal to time it takes to shoot photos) then come back and eat your bowl custard pancake goodness!

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  16. This is pretty funny, but it's interesting of course. You can try this one again. Bet the mix will work well if the custard's not as had. But at the same time...you basically make a nice ice cream!

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  17. Oh wow, maple syrup and ice cream? Something I've never had, but I can image it goes so well together. This custard combo sounds wonderful! I love your little baby pancakes!

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  18. I'm thinking your grandparents have my grandmother's fried salt pork on sourdough bread beat hands down with this. The ice cream sammy idea from cabfranc sounds perfect. I'm drooling over the flavor combo.

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  19. I don't know, Kelly -- can anything REALLY compete with salt pork?? :)

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  20. Too cool, thanks for sharing this sweet recipe, very creative!

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  21. Now you have me craving maple syrup!

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  22. I keep seeing all of these fantastic-sounding ice cream recipes and it is making me more and more and more excited for summer (but perhaps not swimsuit season!).

    This is no exception; it sounds really good! I wouldn't have thought to drizzle maple syrup on ice cream, but it makes sense. Yum! My grandpa used to drizzle honey on grapefruit and I know that's awesome, so I suppose the "elderly" know best, hm? :D

    Good luck finding a recipe for non-freezing pancakes! ;)

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  23. I have to agree with Peef. Adding a bit of bacon to that sounds great! Have you seen Vogues's chocolate-covered bacon. It's an interesting combination—and might be something to add to this dish! :) Thanks for sharing!

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  24. that looks really good. Sorry, no helpful ideas :-(

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  25. Oh, this little baby cakes sounds so delicious!

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  26. I love the thought of maple syrup in frozen custard, and those little pancakes are the best! Good luck in cracking the code on this one.

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  27. Wow, let us now if you come up with a solution. It just seems like too good an idea--there must be a way!

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  28. Those mini pancakes truly are adorable! By the way - I spotted malted milk balls on sale in the bulk section of Pick N Save this week, which means your malted milk ball ice cream is in my near future!

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  29. Mmm. Sale. Malted milk balls. Maybe that ice cream is in our future as well!

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  30. I'd totally try that flavor. I don't know that I'd like bacon in it 'cause I need my bacon CRISP. Soggy bacon, ew! LOL

    I'm thinking the mini (very cute!) pancakes need to be mixed in when serving like they do at Cold Stone or Marble Slab.

    Happy Easter!

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