Healthy hot chocolate blender pancakes

The toddler absolutely stuck his finger into this pancake right before this photo.

The toddler absolutely stuck his finger into this pancake right before this photo.

There were 500 reasons why I loved living in Manhattan, but the city in winter was not one of them. Pushing a stroller through mountains of dirty snow and then the huge puddles on every corner once they melted, was torture. And not for nothing, but New Yorkers stop picking up after their dogs when it snows. Like, do you think the snow renders your dog's poop harmless? Because the only thing grosser than frozen dog poop is melted dog poop. But I digress.

So now we're cozy in our house in the suburbs while arctic winds and snow howl outside (and the only frozen poop belongs to OUR dog).

And while we've amended our diets for the inevitable post-holidays detox, it's not as easy for M to swear off sweets (nor do we expect him to), so we're toning them down and transitioning away from indulgence and toward moderation.

Enter, hot chocolate pancakes. The name is enticing and fits with the frigidity of our current climate. BUT! The ingredients are more wholesome than the name implies.

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One thing I like about this recipe is that, unlike other recipes that use banana as a natural sweetener, they don't actually taste like banana. I mean, I love bananas, but I don't always want my baked goods to taste like them.

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I also think that the mixture of malt powder and cocoa powders tastes more like hot chocolate than cocoa powder alone. *If you don't have malt powder, use 2 Tbsp of cocoa powder total and add 1-2 Tbsp of maple syrup to the batter.

And while we're at it, let's talk about "blender pancakes" as a concept. As an admittedly lazy cook and housekeeper, I'm skeptical of getting out the blender when it's not strictly necessary. Maybe I'm scarred from not having a dishwasher for most of my adult life, but it seems so much more complicated to clean the blender than to wash out a bowl and spoon.

Anyway, the blender is totally justified here because the oats get chopped up nicely and incorporated more easily. Without blending, you'd either have chunky pancakes or you'd have to wash a food processor and a bowl and spoon. In conclusion, thank god for dishwashers.

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Hot Chocolate pancakes

1 large banana
1 cup quick oats
2 eggs
¼ cup milk (dairy, almond, soy, coconut, rice- anything will work)
1 tsp baking powder
3 Tbsp malt powder (*See note above if omitting malt powder)
1.5 Tbsp cocoa powder
¼ tsp salt

Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth, scraping the sides if necessary.

Heat a frying pan with the butter or oil of your choice over medium low heat. Pour out about 1/2 cup of batter (we're looking for about 4-inches in diameter) into the hot pan and let cook until 1 or 2 bubbles form on the raw side. (You won't get lots of bubbles as you would with regular pancakes.) 

Once a bubble or two form, carefully flip the pancakes over and cook for 4-5 minutes on the other side, until a crust forms and the pancake feels firm to the touch. 

Serve warm with berries, syrup, powdered sugar, nut butter, or honey.

Yield: 5-6 medium pancakes

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Malted chocolate pavlova

Malted Chocolate Pavlova | Me & The Moose. This Malted Chocolate Pavlova is an easy showstopper dessert for Easter, Passover, or any celebration. #meandthemoose #chocolate #chocolatedesserts #chocolaterecipes #pavlovarecipe #chocolatepavlova #maltedchocolatepavlovaMalted Chocolate Pavlova | Me & The Moose. This Malted Chocolate Pavlova is an easy showstopper dessert for Easter, Passover, or any celebration. #meandthemoose #chocolate #chocolatedesserts #chocolaterecipes #pavlovarecipe #chocolatepavlova #maltedchocolatepavlova

Pavlova failures abounded this week. Ugh. Half of these photos are from when I gave up trying to make a meringue that didn't fall and just accepted that I'd wasted, like, 20 eggs making these stupid desserts.

But I'll back up: Pavlova! I love meringues and a pavlova is akin to a large meringue that has a softer, more marshmallow-y center. It's a decadent finish to a holiday dinner, but strangely light, which seems appropriate after ham or whatever other heavy things make up your Easter meal. It's also going to be almost 80 degrees here in NYC on Easter Sunday, so a light dessert might be nice. Good planning on my part.

Malted Chocolate Pavlova | Me & The Moose. This Malted Chocolate Pavlova is an easy showstopper dessert for Easter, Passover, or any celebration. #meandthemoose #chocolate #chocolatedesserts #chocolaterecipes #pavlovarecipe #chocolatepavlova #maltedchocolatepavlova

Pavlovas should be easy: They require very few ingredients and very little active cooking time. But, I've learned the hard way (read: after 4 fallen pavlovas), that the technique can be tricky. I've put some lengthy notes below to explain what I did to achieve pavlova success on my 5th try. Victory in our time.

Frothy eggs. Malted Chocolate Pavlova | Me & The Moose. This Malted Chocolate Pavlova is an easy showstopper dessert for Easter, Passover, or any celebration. #meandthemoose #chocolate #chocolatedesserts #chocolaterecipes #pavlovarecipe #chocolatepavlova #maltedchocolatepavlova
Stiff peaks. Malted Chocolate Pavlova | Me & The Moose. This Malted Chocolate Pavlova is an easy showstopper dessert for Easter, Passover, or any celebration. #meandthemoose #chocolate #chocolatedesserts #chocolaterecipes #pavlovarecipe #chocolatepavlova #maltedchocolatepavlova

I've done A LOT of research on pavlova techniques in the past 14 days. Unfortunately, some of the advice is contradictory (why does that always happen?). In 20 years, when I've made 400 pavlovas, I'll update this post with a foolproof method for cooking them. Until then, here's what worked:

1) Cold egg whites are fine. Using cold eggs are not the secret because I also used cold egg whites in one of my fallen meringues. But I used them in my successful one, so don't worry about bringing them to room temperature before you get started.

2) Whip egg whites at a slower speed for a longer amount of time. I whipped the egg whites on a 4 with my stand mixer and had the best results when aerating the eggs a little more slowly. Using a lower speed also makes it easier to ensure that you whip enough, but not too much.

3) Whip the eggs almost to stiff peaks before adding the sugar. I read this advice on a random Australian listserv (I did a DEEP dive into pavlova-land) and it really helped. All of the other recipes I read told me to add the sugar when the eggs were at soft peaks, but that inevitably led to fallen pavlova. I tried to get some good photos of the soft peak stage, but was scared to stop the mixer, lest my 5th attempt fall too. Basically, you'll know you're at soft peaks when the bubbles that started earlier as froth become really really tiny, the eggs' volume increases, and you can see the tracks from the whisk going through the mixture. Once you get here, keep mixing for a few more minutes before adding the sugar. 

4) Don't overbeat the eggs. Once you've added the sugar, stop whipping as soon as the egg whites start looking glossy and shiny and check to see if you've achieved stiff peaks.

5) Sift the malt powder, chocolate, and cornstarch over the whipped meringue. I worked pretty hard to ensure that nothing deflated those eggs and the only time it worked was when I actually sifted the dry add-ins at the end. I also folded the ingredients together excruciatingly gently and JUST until things are mixed together enough. I left the batter a little streaky because I really didn't want them to deflate.

Mixed together. Malted Chocolate Pavlova | Me & The Moose. This Malted Chocolate Pavlova is an easy showstopper dessert for Easter, Passover, or any celebration. #meandthemoose #chocolate #chocolatedesserts #chocolaterecipes #pavlovarecipe #chocolatepavlova #maltedchocolatepavlova

But fear not. If you're still reading, then you're already committed to making this and good on you. Regardless of what happens with the texture of your pavlova, it'll taste great. This recipe uses a lot less sugar than most because I find most pavlovas awfully sweet. I also love the flavor of malt. While the pavlova itself isn't overwhelmingly malt-y, it has a mild sweetness and chocolate-y flavor that melds perfectly with some lightly sweetened cream and the malted and chocolate candies on top. If I was doing this again, I would also dust the top with malt powder. But if I make another pavlova, my husband might divorce me.

My non-fallen pavlova! Malted Chocolate Pavlova | Me & The Moose. This Malted Chocolate Pavlova is an easy showstopper dessert for Easter, Passover, or any celebration. #meandthemoose #chocolate #chocolatedesserts #chocolaterecipes #pavlovarecipe #chocolatepavlova #maltedchocolatepavlova

Malted pavlova

Adapted from Nigella and Martha

6 egg whites
large pinch of salt
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vinegar
1 Tbsp cornstarch
3 Tbsp malt powder
1 Tbsp cocoa powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Separate the egg whites and yolks and set the yolks aside. (Be careful! Seriously, no yolks allowed in pavlova.) In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites on medium-low speed ("4" on my stand mixer) until they start to get frothy. Add the salt and continue whipping. Look for soft peaks: (in case you didn't read this above) The bubbles that started forming when the eggs got frothy become really tiny, the eggs’ volume increases, and you can see clear tracks where the whisk cuts through the mixture. Continue whisking past this stage (still on speed 4) for about 3-4 more minutes.

Add the sugar in 2-3 Tbsp increments while continuing to whip. After each sugar addition, let your mixer go for about 1 minute to incorporate the sugar. Once your sugar is mixed in, continue whisking until the eggs look glossy and shiny. Stop the mixer and check that you’re at “stiff peaks.” To check: turn the whisk right side up and see if the egg whites stay in a peak or lop over—they should stay in a peak. Add the vinegar and then sift the cornstarch, malt powder, and cocoa over the eggs. Very gently, fold the ingredients together until JUST mixed.

Mound this mixture onto your parchment and smooth down the top a bit, leaving a slight divot in the center. Put in the oven and immediately reduce heat to 300. Cook for 60-70 minutes and then turn off the heat and let cool completely in the oven with the door closed.

The pavlova can be kept, well covered, for 2-3 days before being decorated with the cream and candy.

Whipped cream
2 cups heavy whipping cream
4 Tbsp sugar
½ Tbsp vanilla extract

Combination of Cadbury chocolate mini eggs and Whoppers malted mini eggs

To assemble: Remove the parchment paper and place the pavlova on your serving dish. Some people like to invert the pavlova and put cream on the underside. I have no preference about this step. Mound the whipped cream on whatever side you like and top with the candy. Serve immediately.

Yield: 8-10 servings

Malted Chocolate Pavlova | Me & The Moose. This Malted Chocolate Pavlova is an easy showstopper dessert for Easter, Passover, or any celebration. #meandthemoose #chocolate #chocolatedesserts #chocolaterecipes #pavlovarecipe #chocolatepavlova #maltedchocolatepavlova