A couple weeks ago Amanda Hesser's Recipe Redux column in The Times Magazine had a recipe for some very unusual pancakes. They flipped the usual pancake recipe ratios upside down and called for two cups of sour cream, four eggs, and only a scant handful of flour to hold it all together. They sounded unusual, and tricky, but Hesser called them "feathery, creamy, tangy." How could we not try them?
A first batch of Heavenly Hots: predictably smushed.
My husband and I are big fans of pancakes. He follows in his father's footsteps by making light and delicious buttermilk pancakes; they're a special weekend treat. But last weekend we decided to give these even lighter pancakes a try. They sorely tested our pancake skills, that's for sure! But they were unusual and so worth it.
Heavenly Hots are a classic breakfast hit from a restaurant in Berkeley, California. They seem to be based on the Russian blini, with sour cream substituted for milk, and a tangy, lighter texure than the traditional American pancake.
Here were our thoughts on this recipe.
• The process: First of all, this batter is very loose and thin. It's more like crepe mix than thick, puffy pancake batter. The recipe cautions you to create very small pancakes — no more than three inches in diameter. We found this to be an important note; anything bigger and these will be impossible to flip.
Flipping them was so tricky; even at silver dollar size they were very hard to flip without tearing them. My husband (champion pancake-flipper!) got the the hang of it after a smushed batch or too. He figured out how to slide the spatula underneath and coax the little pancake up and over.
These cook very quickly, but it's difficult to make more than three or four at a time. And three or four pancakes definitely won't feed a hungry breakfast-eater; a full batch of these would feed 2 to 4 people. So you really have to wait until they are all cooked before sitting down to eat.
• The taste: As promised, these were amazingly light. All that work pays off into a really creamy pancake, with a soft and tender middle, and a butter-crisped top. They didn't need much maple syrup! They practically melt in your mouth. My only quibble was that I tasted egg more than I tasted sour cream; I think I had this vision of pure sour cream in pancake form, but these are definitely more eggy than not.
• The verdict: These were delicious little pancakes, and a real departure from the fluffier American pancake. But their trickiness and the fact that you do so much work to create so many little pancakes makes this recipe less practical than more traditional pancakes. We'll definitely make these again, but they don't replace our old-fashioned buttermilk pancakes.
• Get the recipe: Heavenly Hots at The New York Times
Have you tried these yet?
Related: Recipe: Fluffy Ricotta Pancakes
(Images: Faith Durand)