The New Birthday Cake [Strawberry Tiramisu Pancakes]

After a week of treats, dinners made for me (unheard of in these parts), and restaurant visits, it’s finally over. Goodbye birthday week, it’s been a slice. Though not a slice of cake. You keep that birthday cake to yourself - I don’t want any of it. All crumbly, dry and sickeningly sweet - blech! 

You all know I’d take dinner over dessert any ol’day - but there are certain things I would happily eat as a substitute for typical ‘birthday cake’. This year, my birthday happened to fall the day after Shrove Tuesday (aka Pancake Tuesday!!) so it was only natural for me to create some sort of Birthday panCAKE to celebrate. And boy, am I glad I did. The result was something other-worldly. 
Tiramisu is something I would trade in my first born (Ryder - chocolate lab) for a bite of. It’s light, airy texture and creamy coffee-spiked flavour puts me into an intoxicated state of bliss.

Add some fresh fruit, strawberries to be more precise, and I’m putty in your hands. My girlfriend, Zu, was the first to introduce me to her Strawberry Tiramisu and it’s easily become one of my top 5 sweet-treats.

Last week, in honour of Pancake Tuesday, I decided to swap out the lady-fingers and instead layer coffee-cocoa flapjacks between layers of sliced strawberries, creamy Mascarpone and a sweetened strawberry puree. Not only were the colourful stacks devastatingly beautiful, they were the perfect balance of sweet and savoury. I’ll take a stack of the Strawberry Tiramisu Pancakes over birthday cake any day. I have a feeling you might agree! If strawberries aren’t your thang, I think bananas or blueberries would be a lovely swap-in. 

Strawberry Tiramisu Pancakes
pancakes adapted from The Ivory Hut
Makes enough for 4 (3-pancake) mini-stacks or 2 (2-pancake) large stacks.

Before you start, I would brew 1 cup of espresso and place in the fridge for 30 minutes. It’s easier than waiting for it to chill while you’re in the middle of getting everything together. 

1 cup strawberries
2 tbsp confectioners sugar

In a bullet, food processor or blender - puree sugar and berries until smooth.

Creamy Mascarpone
1 cup Mascarpone
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup confectioners sugar
1 tbsp brewed espresso, chilled
1 tbsp maple syrup (optional)
Using hand-mixer or whisk attachment on stand-mixer - beat all 5 ingredients until thick and creamy, 1-2 minutes. 

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder, sifted
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
a generous pinch of salt  

1/2 cups sour cream 
1 1/2 cups milk
3 large eggs
4 tablespoons butter, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 tablespoons instant coffee  
vegetable oil, for frying pancakes

To Serve: 
1 cup strawberries, sliced lengthwise 
1/2 cup brewed espresso, chilled (optional)

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder and soda, and salt together until combined.

In another bowl, add the sour cream and a little bit of the milk. Whisk until it starts to loosen up. Add a bit more milk, continue to whisk. Add the rest of the milk. This helps ensure no clumps of sour cream remain. Add the instant-coffee and mix well until it’s all dissolved. Whisk in eggs, vanilla and melted butter and mix until smooth. 

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir gently until just combined with no flour pockets remaining. It should be slightly lumpy, you don’t want to over-mix.  

Place a large skillet (or set up your griddle if you have one) over medium heat and add 2 tbsp of oil. Heat until rippled and add 1/4 cup of pancake batter (or 2 tbsp for tiny pancakes). Let it sizzle away until bubbles come up and the edges look cooked. Carefully flip and cook for another minute.  

To Serve (this is for 3-pancake mini-stacks);

Place a little dollop of cream  on the bottom of a serving plate and place one pancake on top. Pour 1-2 tsp of chilled espresso over the pancake (this is optional - but I like the soggy coffee spiked cakes). Place 1-2 tbsp of the Mascarpone mixture, a few sliced berries, and a drizzle of the berry puree. Repeat again. Place last pancake on top, dollop with cream, drizzle with puree and top with a whole berry.