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Hot Cross Carrot Cake Pancakes

  Did you think I'd forgotten about you, and the fact that you still don't know what to make for Easter brunch?  Never lose faith, friends, I'm here!

  But really, you have Sundays with Joy (And yes, I realize I'm a few days late for that.  Busy weekend!) to thank for these babies.

  Considering that these were inspired by Joy's recent hot cross pancake post and the awesome carrot cake pancake recipe from her book, you know they've gotta be good.  And they.  Are.

  Carrot cake for breakfast, and a very convenient way to serve dessert for lunch and/or dinner.  These are so tender, light, moist, and just screaming with spices.  The pancake itself is not very sweet, in order to balance out the sugared-up cream cheese spread.

  The only irksome thing about the recipe is the carrots.  It takes a goodly while to shred a half dozen or so of carrots with a fine grater, and you might come out of it with some sore wrists and orange palms.  But it's the only way to go, and once the finished product is on your plate, you'll forget all about your carrot hands.

  If you're weirded out by putting vegetables into your breakfast cakes, don't be.  Really, I promise you, it's so much tastier than your doubts.

  And here you go, the perfect contribution to your big Easter brunch.  Stacks of spiced carrot cake goodness, slipping around on dollops of a smooth brown sugar cream cheese spread.  Otherwise known as an indulgent Wednesday afternoon snack.  No shame.

Hot Cross Carrot Cake Pancakes
Yield: 12-16 small pancakes

Ingredients for the pancakes:
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly-grated nutmeg
  • Generous pinch of ground ginger
  • A pinch of allspice
  • A pinch of ground cardamom
  • 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons raisins
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups finely-grated carrots (i.e. don't use your food processor, but a grater with fine, small holes)
  • 3 tablespoons butter, for greasing

Ingredients for the cream cheese spread/crosses:
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • Dash of ground cinnamon
  • Dash of vanilla extract
  • Maple syrup to drizzle on top, if desired

To make the pancakes, preheat the oven to 200 degrees F, so you can keep the pancakes warm between batches.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, and cardamom.  Add the nuts and raisins, if using.  In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, brown sugar, buttermilk, and vanilla.  Add the carrots.  Pour the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture and stir until just combined.  Let rest for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the cream cheese spread.  Place the softened cream cheese in a small bowl and beat with a fork until smooth.  Stir in the powdered sugar, brown sugar, heavy cream, cinnamon, and vanilla extract.  If piping crosses, fit a piping bag with a large, plain tip; or grab yourself a sandwich bag.  Fill the bag with the cream cheese mixture (if using a sandwich bag, snip off the corner just before piping).

Place a medium skillet over medium heat, and melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in it.  Spoon about 2 tablespoons of batter into the pan and spread thin.  When bubbles begin to form and pop, the pancake is ready to flip.  Cook each side until golden, about 2 minutes.  As you cook, place the completed pancakes onto an ovenproof plate/platter and place in the warm oven.  Continue cooking pancakes, adding more butter as needed.

Serve warm with cream cheese spread and syrup, if desired.  Best served immediately.

Sources: adapted from Joy the Baker's Cookbook, and Joy's Hot Cross Pancakes