Comfort foods collide with these mac ‘n’ cheese pancakes, made with three cheeses (plus butternut squash).
Me: Hello there, fellow pancake enthusiast! How would you like a stack of macaroni and cheese pancakes?
Fellow Pancake Enthusiast: Well, you know how much I love pancakes. Wait… macaroni and cheese pancakes!? What is this sorcery?
Me: Don’t flip out! Let me explain how these pancakes entered my life. One day a savory pancake craving hit me, so I planned to make some cheddar cheese pancakes. Then I thought I’d include a combination of cheeses, like I would if I were making macaroni and cheese. Then came the lightbulb moment: mac ‘n’ cheese pancakes!
FPE: You have a strange mind. So, what exactly is in these pancakes?
Me: Cooked macaroni, eggs, flour, baking powder, salt and a mixture of three cheeses: cheddar, parmesan and cottage cheese. Oh, and some cooked and mashed butternut squash – which is also called butternut pumpkin.
FPE: Trust you to include some kind of squash in there. You know that most people get sick of pumpkins and squashes by the end of November, right?
Me: Not me. Besides, I almost always add butternut squash to cheesy pancake dishes. So why wouldn’t I add some to these pancakes?
FPE: Never mind. I know it’s wise not to get between you and your gourds. But I also know about your oat obsession. Have you devilishly snuck oats into these pancakes?
Me: Okay, you got me. I used half all purpose flour, and half oat flour.
FPE: Flippin’ blueberry flapjacks! What is wrong with you, woman!?
Me: Calm down. These don’t taste oat-y at all. If you didn’t know there was oat flour in these pancakes, you’d never guess I’d snuck oats into them.
FPE: Okay… but if I’m still on the fence about using oat flour, could I replace it with something else?
Me: Try using more all purpose flour instead. But I’m telling you, you won’t notice the oats.
FPE: Whatever you say. While we’re on the topic of substitutions, I’m all out of cottage cheese. But I have some ricotta leftover from making lasagna last night. Could I use that instead?
Me: Sure. Just keep in mind that you may need to add a splash of milk if the batter seems too dry. While this is supposed to be a thick batter, you don’t want it to be insanely thick. Since the liquid content of soft cheeses varies, use your noggin and add some milk if the batter appears to be too dry.
FPE: Got it. Now I’m looking at your batch of pancakes, and it looks like you’ve used a different type of pasta. Something random and twisty.
Me: Good catch. Technically I used cavatappi – also known as corkscrews or curls. However, some people do consider cavatappi a type of macaroni.
FPE: Well I sure don’t. Elbows or nothing, I say!
Me: That’s fine. I have nothing against your beloved elbow macaroni. I just prefer cavatappi.
Me: I had no idea you had such strong views on the subject. Whatever type of pasta you use, make sure you cook it for 1 – 2 minutes less than the cooking time printed on the box. The pasta will cook for a few more minutes in the pancakes, and we don’t want overcooked pasta.
FPE: Overcooked pasta is a crime against Italian food.
Me: That’s something we can agree on.
FPE: Are you sure macaroni and cheese pancakes aren’t also a crime against Italian food?
Me: My nonna used to make spaghetti pancakes, so I’m going to consider these legal. It’s not like I’ve made a hot dog stuffed pizza crust.
FPE: Oh, the horror! That shouldn’t even be called pizza.
Me: We’re getting off topic. Before we started talking about pizza I meant to tell you that you need to cook these pancakes for a little longer than your classic breakfast pancakes. Since the batter’s quite thick they need more time to cook through.
FPE: Couldn’t you have just made the batter thinner?
Me: Yes, but I wanted the pasta to be completely engulfed in batter. Otherwise you’d be left with a batch of pancakes with random bits of pasta sticking out. Plus, I love tall pancakes.
FPE: Mmmm, me too. Now I think about it, this stack of cheesy pancakes would make a good dinner or side dish for Pancake Day.
Me: Of course, Pancake Day! When is that again?
FPE: February 9! How could you forget!?
Me: Sorry, my brain’s clearly asleep. You know, you could also have these as a snack during the Super Bowl, which is a whole two days before Pancake Day.
FPE: Ugh, football!
Me: Yeah, I’m not a fan either. I just like the half-time show… and the snacks. Speaking of which, would you like to try some of these macaroni and cheese pancakes now?
FPE: Yes, but the ones you made have been sitting there for ages while we’ve been babbling on. We need to make another batch!
Me: Then grab a mixing bowl, and let’s get cooking!
- ¼ cup (25g) oat flour
- ¼ cup (30g) all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- Salt and pepper
- 2 eggs
- ¼ cup (60g) cottage cheese
- ¼ cup (60g) mashed butternut squash
- ¼ cup (20g) shredded cheddar cheese
- 2 tablespoons (10g) finely grated parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons (30mL) milk
- 1 cup (80g) cooked macaroni
- Fresh or roasted tomatoes
- In a bowl, combine the oat flour, all purpose flour, baking powder and a few pinches of salt and pepper. Mix well.
- In another bowl, whisk the eggs with a fork. Add the cottage cheese, mashed butternut squash, cheddar cheese, parmesan cheese and milk. Whisk until the cottage cheese is relatively well incorporated, although some lumps are perfectly fine.
- Pour the dry ingredients (the flour mixture) into the wet ingredients (the egg mixture). Mix until just combined. While the batter should be quite thick, add a splash of milk if it seems too dry. Gently stir in the macaroni.
- Refrigerate the batter for 10 - 15 minutes.
- Preheat a skillet over medium-low heat. Grease with cooking oil spray, and then add a scant ¼ cup of batter for each pancake. Use the back of a spoon to shape the pancakes into circles.
- Cook the pancakes for about 3 minutes, or until bubbles appear and burst on the surface. Flip, and cook for 2 minutes on the other side. Adjust the stove heat as needed.
- Serve the pancakes with some fresh or roasted tomatoes.
You can make your own oat flour by whirling some rolled oats (or quick-cooking oats) in a coffee grinder (or food processor) until they resemble a fine flour.
Cook the butternut squash any way you like before mashing. Roasted squash is the most flavorsome, but boiled or even microwaved squash will do in a pinch.
Ideally, cook your macaroni for 1 - 2 minutes less than the packet instructions. Any type of short pasta should work here - I used cavatappi (corkscrews), which are a type of curly macaroni.