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12/20/2016

~ Eggnog Pancakes w/Butter-Rum 'n 'Nog Bananas ~

IMG_4321Eggnog is a staple in my refrigerator during the Christmas and New Years holidays.  Besides sipping on it throughout the days leading up to the holidays, I bake and cook with it too.  To name a few, I make great eggnog cookies, eggnog pound cake and eggnog shortbread, and, when it comes to breakfast or brunch on Christmas or New Years Day, either eggnog pancakes, French toast or waffles always make an appearance.  There's more.  Bananas are one of my favorite fruits (I eat one every day), and caramelized bananas, like the kind used to make Bananas Foster, are my favorite topping for these festive eggnoggy start-to-the-day creations.

IMG_9263Eggnog -- it is the traditional and official drink of the Christmas and New Years holidays.  There is nothing quite like sipping slowly from a punch-cup full of this creamy-rich liquor-laced libation.  In many families, making eggnog from scratch is an event.  The recipe is often times a well-guarded secret, being passed down from generation to generation.  The only egg nog I got to drink as a child were the sips I could sneak out of a jovial adult's punch cup at more than a few neighborhood cocktail parties.  Our nextdoor neighbor, Mrs. Rimm, made great eggnog.

IMG_9963A bit about eggnog:  References to eggnog date back to the 1800's, when, even back then it was served during the Winter holiday season. Known as "egg milk punch", it was and still is a sweetened dairy-based beverage made with milk, sugar, raw egg yolks, whipped egg whites and a splash of rum and/or vanilla extract. Nowadays cream is always included in place of some or all of the milk, because today's milk has a much lower fat content than milk in the 1800's, which had cream on top.

Brandy, rum and/or bourbon are almost always added.  The plain truth:  Eggnog just tastes better with some alcohol in it.  Each smallish finished serving is poured into a punch cup, then it's topped off with a dollop of freshly-whipped cream and a sprinkling of freshly-ground nutmeg.

IMG_9607Eggnog literally means "eggs in a small cup", and it is used on both sides of the Atlantic to toast to ones health.  "Nog" is an old English term for a small wooden cup.  As an English creation, it descended from a hot British drink called posset, made from eggs beaten with milk, sugar and some type of spirit. During that time period, alcoholic drinks were commonly served at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Because it was cooked, posset traveled and adapted well to local tastes wherever it landed.  One such place was our American colonies.  America was full of farms, which were full of chickens, cows and plenty of cheap rum -- which is America's signature ingredient.

IMG_9268Fast forward to present day.  Over the holidays, pasteurized eggnog is sold in milk-like cartons in almost every grocery store in America.  Here is where I stick my two cents in.  All store-bought eggnog is not created equal.  Most mass-produced name brands are cloyingly sweet, leaving an almost bubblegum-like aftertaste.  Most purists agree that those who don't like this Yultide beverage have simply never had the opportunity to taste real-deal eggnog.

The best place to buy pasteurized eggnog is at your local dairy!

P1000052Meet Meyer Dairy.  Founded in 1970 by two  brothers and located just four short miles from my kitchen door, I have been buying milk and ice cream from these folks since the day I moved to Happy Valley in 1974.  Joseph Meyer, the owner explains, "We're farmers, so we produce our own milk.  We put in a drop tank to bring it up from the farm to process and bottle it in our shop."  Over the years they added many varieties of ice-cream, and the flavors change daily. Besides one of their generous cones of the creamy-dreamy stuff, there's plenty of room to sit down and enjoy a hot dog or a hamburger too.  They sell lots of other local and PA based products too:  grilled stickies from The College Diner, apple butter from the Lions Club and Middleswarth potato chips!

Yes, Meyer's sells their milk in returnable glass bottles:

IMG_9129'Tis the season for Meyer Dairy to roll out their eggnog and eggnog ice cream, and, my holiday season wouldn't be the same without either one.  I adore that ice cream flavor but when I stopped in the shop this AM, the charming gal behind the counter told me they won't start making it for another week yet.  One sip of their eggnog is all anyone needs to know this is not your run-of-the-mill store-bought milkgrog.  It is rich, just the right thickness, pleasantly spiced and not overly sweet.  The only thing left in the back of your throat is the taste of real-deal farm-fresh cream.  Meyer's eggnog is beyond compare, and:

IMG_9125To bake the best:  Mel's Happy Valley Meyer Dairy Eggnog Pancakes -- I insist upon the best locally-made pasteurized eggnog money can buy! 

Note before starting:   If you plan to serving your eggnog pancakes with my butter-rum 'n nog caramelized bananas, and I sure hope you do, prepare the bananas before starting to make the pancakes.  The bananas only take a few minutes to make, and when they are done, simply turn the heat off underneath them.  Top each individual serving of pancakes with warm bananas as you cook the pancakes, or, serve them after cooking all the pancakes.

IMG_4312For the butter-rum 'n 'nog caramelized bananas:

5-7  ripe, yellow bananas, not over-ripe, about 2 pounds before peeling

2  tablespoons butter

1  tablespoon butter-rum flavoring

6  tablespoons eggnog

1/2  cup dark brown sugar

1/2  teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4  teaspoon ground nutmeg

IMG_1737Step 1.  Melt and cool the butter in the microwave.  In a medium bowl place the brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Add the butter-rum flavoring and eggnog, followed by the melted butter.  

IMG_1746Step 2. Stir until the mixture is thick and pasty.  Set aside for 5-10 more minutes, to allow sugar to dissolve completely.  Stir again.

IMG_2077Step 3.  Peel and slice the bananas into 1/4"-thick coins, placing them in a measuring container as you work.  I recommend you use a measuring container because every bunch of six bananas varies in weight and size. You'll want about 3 1/2 cups of total coined bananas.

(Note:  Culinarily, the verb "coin" means to slice into little rounds that resemble coins.)

IMG_2087IMG_2082Step 4. Place the sugar paste in a 12" skillet.

Over low heat, allow it to slowly melt.  Lift the pan off the heat occasionally and give it a tip and a turn, until the sugar is completely melted and has evenly coated the bottom of the pan.

IMG_2089Step 5.  Add bananas to skillet.

IMG_2094Using a large spoon, give them a few gentle tosses, to coat them in the sugar sauce.

Note:  Do not coin the bananas until just before you melt the sugar into the skillet or they will turn brown.

IMG_2102 IMG_2116Step 6. Increase heat to medium high.  Stirring/stir-frying almost constantly, cook just until the bananas soften, about 1-1 1/2 minutes.  

Do not cook any longer or the bananas will become mushy and fall apart.  

Remove from heat and set aside for 5-10 minutes before serving hot or warm atop my pancakes.

It's finally time to make the eggnog pancakes:

IMG_4239For the eggnog pancakes:

2  cups unbleached, all-purpose flour

2  teaspoons baking powder

1  teaspoon baking soda

1/2  teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4  teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2  teaspoon sea salt

2 1/2  cups eggnog

1  tablespoon butter rum flavoring

1  teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2  large eggs

2  tablespoons butter, melted

corn or vegetable oil, for frying pancakes

IMG_4241 IMG_4242 IMG_4247 IMG_4249~Step 1.  In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients: the flour, baking powder, baking soda, ground cinnamon, nutmeg and sea salt.  Set aside.  In a 4-cup measuring container, whisk together the wet ingredients:  the eggnog, butter rum flavoring, vanilla extract and eggs.   In a small bowl or ramekin, melt the butter in the microwave and whisk it into the eggnog mixture.

IMG_4251 IMG_4255 IMG_4258~ Step 2.  Whisking constantly, in a steady stream, drizzle/pour the eggnog mixture into the flour mixture.  Continue mixing until an ever-so-slightly lumpy batter forms.  Do not over whisk.  Small lumps are simply perfect.  Set aside for about 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, heat a thin coating of oil (a scant 1/8") in a 16" electric skillet to 325°.  Ready a 3-ounce ladle and a wide nonstick spatula.

Note:  You certainly can use a griddle or a large skillet on the stovetop.  That said, I prefer an electric skillet to cook pancakes because it is super-easy to constantly control the heat.

IMG_4259 IMG_4261 IMG_4283 IMG_4293~Step 3.  Using a 3-ounce ladle as a measure, add the batter for 3 pancakes to skillet, allowing space for them to spread out into 4" rounds.  Cook until golden on both sides, turning only once, about 2-2 1/2 minutes on first side and 1-1 1/2 minutes on the second.  The time to flip pancakes is when large bubbles appear on the surface of the first side.  Repeat process until all pancakes are cooked, adding 2-3 additional tablespoons of oil to the pan whenever necessary.  

Note:  When extra oil is added to pan, be sure to give it time to heat to temperature (325°) before adding the additional batter to make 3 more pancakes, about 30-45 seconds.

Put 'em all on a platter or just stack 'em up on your own plate:

IMG_4305Top with a few butter-rum 'n 'nog-sauced bananas & celebrate:

IMG_4324Eggnog Pancakes w/Butter-Rum 'n 'Nog Bananas:  Recipe yields 18, 4"-round pancakes.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; chef's knife; 16" electric skillet; whisk; 1-quart measuring container; ramekin; 3-ounce ladle; wide nonstick spatula

IMG_7748Cook's Note:  Lucky you.  I have a few favorite pancake recipes -- each one dedicated to a special holiday.  For example, a few short weeks ago, at Thanksgiving, I served up my ~ Pumpkin 'n Spice and Everything Nice Pancakes ~.  You can find the recipe by clicking in Categories 9, 11, 18 or 20.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2016)

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