02 September 2012

The joy of blueberries/ Vegan blueberry pancakes

Blueberries, as most people who know me know, are a fruit for which I have a somewhat unhealthy adoration. Can anything relating to blueberries be called unhealthy, though? The volume-to-flavour ratio of these bad boys is simply off the charts. What else packs so much deliciousness into so small a space as these delicate, brightly coloured orbs of pure joy? During the summer, I try to eat as many berries as possible while they are fresh and in season--strawberries are another favourite, and I've been known to partake of raspberries and blackberries on occasion as well. Strawberries and raspberries hold a particularly nostalgic appeal for me, as my childhood home was lucky enough to play host to a sprawling and brambly raspberry bush and a littler but still ample strawberry bush. But blueberries are simply on a whole other level for me. Once you pop the top on a newly obtained carton of blueberries, it can be hard to stop. Mix them in with some granola and yogourt, add them to a pancake batter, or simply devour them by themselves as a snack--you simply can't go wrong with these little goobers. One bite, and it's like a shot of pure energy and delight as the almost ridiculous amount of antioxidants they contain jostle their way into the digestive system; blueberries are an instant cure for whatever might be ailing you. (Well, within reason.)

I was therefore most pleased to discover that Québec is something of a haven for blueberries. I've been lucky to have purchased some tasty assortments of locally-grown blueberries from Jean-Talon Market--which, by the way, is a complete food-lover's paradise and a highly recommended visit--and, amazingly, I found some wild blueberries from a small Québec company called Godbout at Maxi & Cie, of all places (one of the bigger-sized supermarkets of the Loblaw's chain). Wild blueberries are kind of a different beast from what you might be used to--smaller, with a more delicate skin, and coloured the most deep and bright and majestic blue-ish purple you've ever seen. I immediately cracked open the carton as soon as I got home from the supermarket and it was instant bliss as I went to town on them. Luckily, I was able to restrain myself long enough to whip up a batch of killer pancakes with them tonight. Scrumptious and vegan--yes, the two are not mutually exclusive concepts, contrary to popular opinion. I dare say these can go toe to toe with any flapjack you're likely to encounter.


Vegan blueberry pancakes

Dry ingredients

1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 tbsp. white sugar*
1 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking powder
dash salt
1 cup at least wild blueberries**

*Note: White sugar is kind of a grey area when it comes to vegan rules. The way it is processed sets off alarm bells among some vegans. I imagine one could substitute raw sugar for refined white sugar with ease.
**You are heartily encouraged to go as hog-wild as you wish with the blueberries or, for some variety, use a different fruit--perhaps bananas (which would go nicely with the cocoa) or apples (which would go nicely with the cinnamon).

Wet ingredients

3/4 cup water*
1/2 cup coconut milk*
1 tbsp. canola/ vegetable oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract

*Note: I like my batter quite thick, so please feel free to adjust the ratio of water to coconut milk. Hell, now that I think about it, maybe add some toasted coconut flakes up on the dry ingredients there.


Set lightly oiled frying pan on element cranked to medium high. Or, if you have a griddle, use that in a similar fashion.
Mix together dry ingredients until well blended in a large bowl.
Whisk together wet ingredients in separate, smaller bowl until smooth.
Form a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet. Blend it all together until smooth with no lumps or dry powder hanging about on the outskirts.
Use 1/3 cup measuring cup to scoop out batter and drop into the frying pan, flattening (carefully, since the batter will be quite sticky) with a turner.
Cook until golden-brown on each side.

Yield: 4-5 medium-sized pancakes or 3 giant ones.

Extra pro-tips: I recommend spreading some margarine (vegan-type) and Nutella on top of them and then bracing yourself for a flavour explosion. Of course, if you want to make it extra-Québec-ish, some pure maple syrup would undoubtedly not go amiss. I swear if you use any of that Aunt Jemima crap on these bad boys, however, I will cut you. Fair warning. Bon appetit!

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