This weekend has been a cooking fest for me! I’ve been so motivated to create ever since I purchased a new lens for my camera, which I talk about in my Vegan Pumpkin Bread post. I realize now that it was a little depressing to cook up a fabulous meal only to have the picture look crappy. I’m still working on perfecting the art of food photography but I’m having so much fun and feel a little reinvigorated and capable.
Yesterday, I made some Orange Crunch Muffins with the first ripe orange off our tree in the backyard. I love having fruit trees because they really connect me to the earth. Being able to watch the fruit grow and then using it in my cooking is really a profound experience that I’m grateful for. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve probably seen my smoothie pictures with the orange tree in the background. I’ve been trying to focus on preparing foods that are seasonal and I’m already coming up with some more ideas using oranges which you’ll see up here soon.
Sweet potatoes are another seasonal item I’ve been using a lot lately. Last weekend when my husband was sick I made a soup out of sweet potatoes, chard and a ton of garlic, which was a wonderful comfort food and full of nutrients. This morning, we were in the mood for pancakes and I started off by following Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s recipe for corn pancakes from The Vegan Table, a cookbook I highly recommend! But then I decided to add a little seasonal flare and we ended up with the most amazing vegan sweet potato pancakes ever! Actually, I don’t think I’ve actually had vegan sweet potato pancakes before but these were just really, super good.
I prepared the sweet potato as if I were just making mashed potatoes. In order to get the chunks smooth enough for the pancakes, I used my immersion blender and found that it worked perfectly for this purpose. Also, I just really like using it whenever I can because it’s fun!
I usually don’t add anything on my pancakes except a little syrup or maybe some fruit. But today, I got a crazy idea of making a coconut cream to go on top. Thinking of what sort of flavor profile would be interesting with the sweet potato, my mind landed on cardamom. This is a spice common in East Indian cuisine with a variety of health benenfits and I’ve used it before with a butternut squash soup recipe. I thought this would be add a spicy earthiness to a traditionally sweet meal and it turned out to be a delicious twist for these pancakes.
As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t consider myself as proficient in baking as I am in preparing savory meals, so I don’t have much experience making things like coconut whipped cream. I had a can of coconut cream from Trader Joes and I figured it couldn’t be that hard to make. So I threw the coconut cream in a pyrex glass, added some maple syrup and the cardamom and then tried blending it with my handy dandy immersion blender. It didn’t take long to notice that nothing was happening. So I google how to make coconut cream and found that you’re supposed to chill it first and then scrape the heaviest cream from the top, both of which I failed to do.
So I popped the pyrex into the freezer for about 10 minutes and then tried again. The second time, I noticed after a minute of two of immersion blending that it started separating, with a liquid mixture settling to the bottom and a thicker, buttery texture forming into a ball. At first I thought that this was a complete fail and then decided I could work with it. I tasted the buttery coconut cream and it was AMAZING – perfect for topping pancakes since the texture was so butter-like. This cream would also be amazing added directly onto a baked sweet potato or stirred into candied sweet potatoes – yum!
You can also use fresh coconuts to make the cream – I’m sure it would be amazing!
I used an organic maple syrup, also from trader joes, and all of the flavors worked really great together – maple, sweet potato, cardamom and coconut. Served with some coffee, this was a delightful way to start Sunday!
- 1 1/2 cup nondairy milk (I used soy)
- 1 cup flour
- 3/4 cup cooked sweet potato
- 2 Tbsp nondairy, nonhydrogenated butter
- 1 Tbsp baking powder
- 1 Tbsp brown sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 cinnamon
- 1 cup coconut cream
- 1 Tbsp maple syrup
- 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
- Bring about 4 cups of water to boil in a medium saucepan.
- Peel and chop your sweet potato and add to the boiling water. Boil until softened, about 7-8 minutes.
- Combine the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl.
- Drain the water from the sweet potatoes and add the butter. Mash the potatoes until smooth.
- Add the milk and sweet potato to the flour mixture and stir well. I used an immersion blender to get the sweet potato completely smooth.
- Shake the can well before opening.
- Pour 1 cup of the coconut cream into a bowl and mix in the maple syrup and cardamom.
- Place in the freezer for 10 minutes.
- Using an immersion blender, carefully blend until it begins to separate.
- Drain off the excess liquid and spoon the thicker, buttery-like coconut cream on top of your pancakes.