When Forrest Gump said, "Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get," I think he meant it as a good thing. Forrest was an inspirational guy, and I'm fairly certain he wasn't lamenting the stark truism that a box of chocolates is -- let's face it -- an unpredictable minefield where you might end up with some kind of jellified raspberry monstrosity or a mysterious orange marshmallow corn syrup "creme."
I'd rather eat pancakes anyway.
The Valentine's Day version below is -- gasp! -- pretty good for you, too. Cocoa has polyphenols (a new study reminds us how they boost friendly HDL and lower mean LDL), but I think eating chocolate pancakes to get a daily dose of polyphenols is just as dumb as going to the beach to get vitamin D. NO. You go to the beach because it's FUN, and there's WATER, and you can make SANDCASTLES, and read a NOVEL. And you eat these chocolate pancakes because they TASTE GREAT, not because they'll make you live forever.
Then again, they do have flaxseed.
Recipe for Tender Valentine's Day Chocolate Pancakes
These soft and tender pancakes make lovely droopy stacks, and the cocoa lends a subtle bass note. Those who want more of a chocolaty jolt can, I suppose, add some mini chocolate chips, but I prefer them without. A drizzle of maple syrup brings the chocolate flavor to the fore.
Please cook these in butter to get nice, crisp edges. They really don't need additional butter for serving.
Makes about 25 slender, tender pancakes
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (any oats should be fine, actually)
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup (unsweetened) cocoa powder
1 teaspoon espresso powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons cold butter, cubed, plus additional butter for the griddle
2 cups well-shaken, reduced-fat buttermilk
Place all the dry ingredients (flours through salt) in a food processor fitted with the metal blade and process briefly to combine. Add the cubed butter and process again for 15 seconds. Add the eggs and buttermilk and process for a total of about 20 seconds, stopping the machine halfway through and scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl carefully with a thin silicone spatula. Make sure the dry bits are all fully incorporated, then transfer to a medium bowl. Let the batter rest 5 full minutes. (This is important.)
Meanwhile, heat a cast-iron griddle or other pancake apparatus over medium high heat until drops of water sizzle then quickly evaporate. (Do not try to cook the pancakes until the griddle is sufficiently hot.) Grease with butter. Use an ice cream scoop to dollop the batter on the hot griddle. Cook until the pancakes puff, the edges dry, and you've got nice color on the underside. This took almost 3 minutes for my first batch, but latter batches took only a minute or so because the griddle was much hotter. Flip and cook the other side until set. (You may store leftover batter for up to 24 hours in the refrigerator.)
Serve hot, with maple syrup.