Buckwheat Pancakes with Cocoa Nib Pudding


In terms of things that make me happy, my list would be spending time with my boyfriend, my family, my friends.......and then any time I am served breakfast in a mini cast iron skillet. Seriously though, how happy do you get when you're out to breakfast/brunch and you see the server coming towards you with a piping hot miniature skillet full of deliciousness?! If you're me, pretty darn happy. These pancakes are from the Sqirl cookbook Everything I Want to Eat which is just about the best title for a cookbook I've ever heard of. Whenever I go to Sqirl I am guilty of always ordering the same thing (Famed Ricotta Toast, if you're curious), even though I literally always look at the pancakes and say how good they look. I love Sqirl so much and my visits there are so special that I'm always afraid to stray from the norm, even though everything on the menu is superb. When I saw that the recipe for pancakes is included in the cookbook, I dogeared the page and started stalking Amazon, waiting for the 6-inch cast iron skillets to go on sale. The patience paid off this past week when I got 2 skillets for 12 bucks! These pancakes require a few specialized ingredients: cocoa nibs, corn flour, and buckwheat, but you can find these things in the bulk bins at most health food stores (I found it all at Sprouts). I made these for Noah and I as a weekend linner, and they were So. Good. I called my mom and told her that these might be in the top 3 of baked goods I have EVER MADE. And they are actually pretty healthy, too as far as pancakes are concerned! My qualm with most sweet breakfasts is that they are so heavy that you feel like crap for the rest of the day. The pancakes/waffles/French toast just sit in your gut like a wad of wet paper and you have to go home and sleep it off. These pancakes are different: they are fluffy and light due to the buttermilk, only slightly sweet due to brown sugar and vanilla. You can eat the whole dish and not feel like you're going to have a food baby. The pudding is smooth but not too rich, and it's actually made with almond milk! Jessica Koslow, owner of Sqirl, recommends eating them with whatever fruit is in season (I used blood oranges and raspberries but you could do pineapple, pears, bananas, apples, strawberries, persimmons--whatever you have in your fridge!). Also you totally don't need a cast iron skillet to make these--you can fry them in a pan the old fashioned way, but the skillet adds a little something extra, and now I will be tempted to make them all the time. 


Cocoa Nib pudding (from sqirl)

  • (makes enough for 3 6-inch pancakes) 
  • 300 ml (1 1/4 cups) plain almond milk
  • 12.5 g (1.5 tablespoons) cornstarch
  • 25 g (1/8 cup plus 2 teaspoons) cocoa powder 
  • 70 g (1/3 cup) granulated sugar
  • pinch sea salt
  • 22 g (0.75 oz) bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • 32 g (1/4 cup) cocoa nibs 

Buckwheat pancakes (adapted from sqirl) 

  • (makes 2 6-inch pancakes plus a little extra)
  • 45 g (1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon) buckwheat flour
  • 50 g (1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon) corn flour (I used Bob's Red Mill brand) 
  • 27 g (1/8 cup) brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla 
  • 240 ml (1 cup) buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted

Additional Ingredients 

  • 2 tablespoons butter 
  • 2-3 cups of prepared fruit of your choice 
  • powdered sugar 



Start by making your pudding. Combine 1/8 cup (30 ml) of the almond milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl. Mix with a fork to form a "slurry" (bottom left photo). Meanwhile, in a pot combine sugar, cocoa, salt. Whisk in remaining almond milk gradually. Turn on heat medium-low and heat chocolate mixture, stirring with spatula. Try to remove any clumps of cocoa by smashing them on the side of the pot. Once the mixture is bubbling at the edges, add your cornstarch slurry. Keep stirring with the heat on until mixture thickens and is very shiny, about 3-4 minutes on medium-high heat. Turn off heat and whisk in chocolate and vanilla. Pour into a small cereal bowl and cover with plastic wrap in the fridge (don't add nibs yet!). 

For the pancakes, start by preheating oven to 350 degrees F. 


In a small bowl combine buckwheat, corn flour, baking powder and soda, salt, and sugar in a bowl. Whisk with a fork to combine. In a separate bowl, combine egg and buttermilk. Whisk either by hand or with an electric mixer on low for 3 minutes, until the mixture is pale yellow and aerated. 


Slowly add buttermilk/egg mixture to dry ingredients, whisking as you go. Make sure there are no lumps of dry ingredients. Melt butter and stir in (see below). 


Your batter is now done. Take a scant tablespoon of butter and add it to cast iron skillet on low heat. When it has melted, swirl it in pan to get a good coating. Now add batter, filling it halfway up the side of the skillet. Repeat for other skillet. 


Heat skillet filled with batter on medium heat on stove for 1 minute before transferring to oven. Set timer for 12 minutes. Alternatively, if you are not using skillets, make pancakes as you would normally on a griddle or in a large frying pan. 

While pancakes are cooking, prepare your fruit. I used blood oranges, sectioning them. I researched a couple ways to do this but I think the easiest way is to cut the bottom and top off of the orange and then cut the sides off, going around the outside until you have what will feel like a little bloody pulp of an orange. Cut into each segment to release it and place in a bowl, as shown below. 

At 12 minutes, take a peek at your pancakes. They are done when the middles feel springy. If they aren't done, return to oven for an additional minute and then check again. Repeat until fully cooked. Mine took about 16 minutes in total because my oven runs a little off. This recipe made 2 adult-sized pancakes with a little batter leftover, and so I used it to make a mini pancake in a mini cast iron skillet!  


While pancakes cool, take your pudding out from the fridge and uncover. Add cocoa nibs and stir into pudding. Adding them right before serving keeps them crunchy and it's a nice added texture! 

To assemble your pancakes, spread pudding on half of the pancake. The pudding should be thick enough that it won't spread all over. It's almost like frosting a gigantic black and white cookie! Next to the pudding place your fruit going up the middle like a stripe. I alternated 2 raspberries and 2 segments of blood orange. 


Next, add a dusting of powdered sugar next the the fruit. To try and get it as perfect as possible I used a mesh strainer and gently placed a paper towel on the chocolate/fruit side of the pancake (the height of the fruit will keep it from adhering to the pudding). 

To capture the entire assembly sequence, I took pictures of the mini skillet below! 


Serve immediately! The pancake will still be warm which will melt the chocolate pudding a little. The mix of textures in this personalized dish are unreal--the smooth pudding, the hearty buckwheat, crunchy cocoa nibs....so good! I found that these pancakes required no extra butter or syrup, but you could always add that if you want, or if you are making them for a kiddo.


I have truly never seen my boyfriend eat anything so fast (and we are the FASTEST eaters in our house!) so I think he liked them haha! And he is in general a very savory-things-only-for-breakfast type of person. He finished his AND the mini skillet AND the rest of mine that I was too full to eat!  


Thanks for reading! I start in the ICU on Monday so I feel that may put a damper on my blogging streak, but I still have a bunch of recipes I want to make before Easter!  

Gjelina Butterscotch Pots de Creme


Should you ever find yourself in Los Angeles with a couple hours on your hands, head straight for Gjelina. This restaurant is popular with celebrities and locals alike, and is nestled on the uber hip Abbot Kinney Boulevard. It is probably my favorite sit-down restaurant in LA and when I lived in the city I tried to find every excuse imaginable to go--birthdays, holidays, treat yoself days... Everything on the menu is superb, but make sure you save room for dessert because one of the most talked-about items on the menu is their butterscotch pots de creme. Smooth, rich, salty, and cool, these chilled little desserts are served in a teacup with a dollop of creme fraiche and a sprinkle of salt. When the LA Times published the recipe a few years ago, I knew I had to try it (though I'll be honest, when I saw how many egg yolks they use, it took me a while to get the courage to go through with it....that's a lot of egg yolks!). If you are in the mood for an indulgent dessert or something to wow guests with these pots de creme will do the trick. Noah doesn't even like butterscotch and even he was a fan!

Pots de creme (makes 8-10)

  • 9 egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups packed dark brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise

caramel sauce

  • 1/8th cup (30 ml) water
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) heavy whipping cream
  • 1.5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 

buttermilk creme fraiche 

  • 1 tablespoon buttermilk
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream 
  • maldon salt for sprinkling 


Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Start by separating egg yolks into a separate bowl and gently whisk to combine. Set aside.


 Heat your butter, salt, and brown sugar in a large pot over medium heat (below).


Cook over medium heat until the sugar begins to darken slightly and takes on a nutty, caramel fragrance, about 5 minutes without stirring (see below). Add seeds from vanilla bean and then turn down heat and whisk in the heavy cream slowly. The sugar will seize and harden when the cream is added. Keep whisking. Cook and continue whisking until all of the sugar is dissolved and the mixture just begins to boil. 


Remove mixture from heat and very slowly add the hot sugar mixture to the eggs, whisking constantly. Strain through a fine mesh to remove any cooked egg. Pour mixture into ramekins or jars.  


Pour hot water into the baking pan until it reaches halfway up the outside of the ramekins, and cover the pan with aluminum foil. Bake for 45 minutes. Rotate the pan and continue to bake for 15 minutes more, or just until the custard has set and doesn’t jiggle with you shake the pan. Remove the pan from the oven, uncover, and, using tongs, carefully lift the custards from the water bath and set on a cooling rack. Allow them to chill in a fridge completely before adding creme fraiche and caramel. 


To make the caramel sauce, combine water and sugar in a pot and stir under medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Once dissolved, turn up head to medium and stop stirring. Keep a close eye on it, and as soon as it turns an amber color remove it from heat and whisk in heavy cream in a slow, steady stream. It will bubble and hiss and be very angry but keep stirring. If you get sugar chunks from the caramel seizing return to the heat and whisk them until they dissolve. After cream has been added add butter, salt, and vanilla. Allow caramel to cool before drizzling. 


For the creme fraiche, add buttermilk and cream to a medium mixing bowl and whisk until mixture has thickened. To test if it is done, see if you can shape into a quenelle with two spoons. This is a fun trick to make whipping cream and ice cream look fancy on presentation--there is a great video here.


Add whipped cream quenelle to chilled pots de creme. Add caramel sauce on top, either by drizzling with a spoon or using a piping bag. Sprinkle maldon sea salt on top. Enjoy immediately! If you want to make this recipe a little easier, you could always use store bought caramel sauce and whipped cream.