You know it’s obsession when you’re crouching on your stone-cold cement balcony at 6:50 a.m. convincing your frigid fingers to arrange a drip of cream cheese frosting just so while trying to balance, focus and shoot with your camera in the other hand.
It’s cold for Houston. We’re talking some 40 degree temperatures. Daylight savings means no more photographing after work 🙁 so early morning photoshoots it is.
Only for pancakes.
The source of that deep, vibrant red of these pancakes might turn some people off, but I really want everyone to give them a chance. They’re so.good. You guys. These pancakes are red because they have…
Beets. Yup. And they make these pancakes incredibly luscious and tender without a lick of oil. Or butter. Or coconut oil. Etc.
There is a little more sugar in this recipe than what I usually put in. But you can always dial it back, or swap in a little less honey or agave if you want.
Although I’m totally a fan of sprinkle-studded cakes, I try not to ingest all the funky preservatives in a lot of processed foods (food coloring included) AND it turns out when you put grated vegetables into pancakes, they turn magically tender and fluffy instead of gummy, like most no-fat baked goods. Double win!
So once you have these super healthy pancakes, you must then, um, obviously smother them in cream cheese frosting.*
And cocoa powder–the cocoa powder is a MUST. I sprinkled it on for aesthetic purposes and ended up scraping the plate for every dusty, bittersweet crumb. It’s the perfect balancing act to an incredibly rich frosting.
I don’t usually eat my photoshoots after I shoot my food. (Correction: I don’t usually eat ALL of my photoshoots.) But I had to hide these in the fridge to keep myself from demolishing the entire stack before work.
Conclusion: these are fabulous. Though I’m usually all about the pancake and ambivalent towards toppings, I have to demand that you make these with the frosting. These pancakes are a little plain, underlined by a subtle chocolatiness and punched up with earthy, rustic beet sweetness. They are phenomenal when you add frosting and cocoa powder. If you use a judicious hand with the frosting, these can still be considered a fairly wholesome breakfast, unlike these jokesters.
PS. These were prompted by a tupperware of frozen leftover cream cheese frosting from a certain batch of cinnamon rolls. I figured red velvet pancakes were the perfect vehicle to use it up which was FALSE! I still have tons left. Any suggestions for what to do with it?
I adapted these from Smitten Kitchen’s carrot cake pancakes by adding a dash of cocoa powder, upping the sugar and swapping in a lower amount of beets for carrots. If you are topping this with cream cheese frosting or some kind of sweet topping (please, please do!), I think you could stand to decrease the sugar by a tablespoon. I’m in the habit of snacking on some plain, and so wanted them on the sweeter side.
My beets were extremely juicy after grating. I tossed them into the batter, juice and all. No need to drain or attempt to pat dry.
Beet Red Velvet Pancakes
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Yield: 14 small pancakes
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cocoa powder, plus more for sprinkling
1 large egg
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup buttermilk (or 1 cup milk + 1 tablespoon vinegar)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup finely grated beets (about 1 large)
Cream cheese topping
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, sugar, buttermilk and vanilla. Stir in beets. Stir beet mixture into dry ingredients, stirring until just incorporated. Let rest for five minutes while you make the cream cheese topping and heat a lightly greased pan over medium heat.
To make the cream cheese topping: In a small bowl, beat the cream cheese until fluffy and lump-free. Whisk in powdered sugar, two tablespoons milk and vanilla. If you’d like the mixture thinner, add the remaining tablespoon of milk.
If you have not already done so, grease the pan with a thin layer of oil (I like using a paper towel to spread the oil around). Spoon 2-3 tablespoons of batter into the pan per pancake. Flip when the surface begins to look dry, taut and the mottled with bubbles. Cook until pancakes are crisped on both sides, about 2 minutes per side.
Transfer finished pancakes to a serving dish or tray in a 200 degree oven, to keep warm while you repeat the process with the remaining batter, re-greasing the pan as needed.
Serve warm with cream cheese topping and extra cocoa powder.
Nutrition facts (per pancake, or 1/14 recipe): 60 cal, 1g fat, 1.4g fiber, 5g sugar, 2g protein)
Check out my other Pancake Fridays!
Pancake Fridays: Cornbread Pancakes
Pancake Fridays: Lemon Bar Pancakes
Pancake Fridays: Peanut Butter Carrot Pancakes
Pancake Fridays: Pumpkin Pancakes
Pancake Fridays: Tarte Tatin Pancakes
Pancake Fridays: Tres Leches Pancakes
Pancake Fridays: Whole Wheat Pear and Chocolate Pancakes
i made these pancakes for our Valentine’s Day breakfast today, and they were SO good! I did reduce the sugar by 1 tbsp, and they were plenty sweet. My kids (while all hate beets) absolutely devoured these pancakes. 🙂 thanks!
So glad to hear you guys liked these, Genie!! Sounds like the perfect V-Day breakfast–your kids are some lucky ducks 🙂
Love the post! Great photos! And isn’t it a pain now that we have lost our evening light?! I feel like I am rushing to have a beer or make dinner before I lose light…but that doesn’t happen. I end up taking day pictures of beer and then drinking them later 😀 But it doesn’t work as well with food…
Thank you so much! Yes, it is SUCH a pain–never realized how much I take natural light for granted until I tried to shoot in 5pm pitch-blackness! But good thing it doesn’t stop the beer drinking 🙂
These look fabulous and I’m sure they tasted great too! Beets work wonderful in so many recipes!
Ahh, these look delicious! I happen to love beets, and what a great idea to use them for color! So glad to have discovered your lovely blog… your photos are beautiful. Hope you have a great Thanksgiving!
Aww thank you!! So happy to have found your blog as well 🙂 Hope you had a fantastic Thanksgiving!!
Kristi @ My San Francisco Kitchen
Yumm!!!! I can totally relate to obsessively trying to get the perfect angle while trying to keep balance amongst other things LOL But your photos turned out perfect! =) Happy Thanksgiving!
Haha I’m glad you can relate! Thanks so much and hope you had a great Thanksgiving as well!!
Looks very rich in flavor.
Hi there! They’re actually not very heavy–there’s a very light chocolate flavor and the pancakes have a fairly subtle sweetness. The cream cheese frosting is SUPER rich though!
Thanks for stopping by 🙂
I love pancake Fridays but even more love the fact that your red coloring is beets instead of red dye number 49. Beets make it so moist and your photos are just gorgeous.
Aww yay, I’m glad so many people are as excited about beets as natural food coloring as I am! Thanks so much 🙂
The photos are definitely worth the effort. Great post.
Thanks very much! Nice to know my acquaintance with cold 7 a.m. cement isn’t in vain 🙂
I’ve just discovered the beauty of beets and will start baking with them this very day! Your pancakes sound and look wonderful!
Aww thank you! And yes, you have a lot of beets on your blog–that’s AWESOME!!
Mich - Piece of Cake
Your pancakes really does look delicious and I am so glad to know that red is due to beets! I’d rather not eat colouring if I can help it knowing the amount of it that goes into red velvet cakes..
Thanks so much Mich! I totally agree about food coloring. Yay for veggies and natural coloring!
These are absolutely stunning! The colours are making me swoon, and all the more thoroughly for indicating natural beet goodness therein! Seriously, worth any kind of camera acrobatics. Can I come to breakfast? 😉
Aw thank you so much! You most DEFINITELY can 🙂
Keep Calm and Eat On
That first picture is gorgeous! Love the recipe! I have to remember to give this recipe a try. My little one loves beets and anything red! 🙂
Aww that is adorable!! You must have fed your little one well if she loves beets! So healthy 🙂 I hope she likes them if you end up trying these!
Erika, Pancake Friday is my favourite day of the week! I can’t believe you used beets for the red colour – that’s so cool! Perfect alternative to using that icky food colouring (one reason why I never make red velvet anything). And I’m totally onboard with smothering the pancakes in cream cheese frosting. More please!
Awww thanks Nancy 🙂 I know, I can’t wait to make more red velvet things with beets now! So get ready for even more cream cheese frosting!!
Reblogged this on Gourmand Chic.
Zen and Genki
Woohoo! All hail the mighty beet! Great idea!
Lol all hail indeed! Beet <3 4eva 🙂
you know it’s obsession when you don’t let your boyfriend (or anyone) eat the pretty cookies until AFTER you’ve shot them in pure daylight. 😉
LOVE THESE PANCAKES!!
Hahaha so true!! But the bf is pretty much trained by now…doesn’t take much right? 😉 Thanks so much! 🙂
I think it’s brilliant how you healthified these and used beets instead of food coloring! Smarty 🙂
Aww thanks 🙂
love beauty not cruelty
Oh. My. Life. They look amazing!!!!! ☺
Aw thank you! And good to hear from you! 🙂
Drooling again!!! Your blog has that effect on me *grin*
Awwww thanks 🙂 And thank you SO much for the reblog, you are too sweet!!
Oh my Erika! These look so sinfully adorable!! I love this so much. What a great brunch, or late lunch, early dinner, or even 3:00 a.m. meal!
Haha so true Judy! Late night/early morning snacking would be so much better with these 🙂
Mmm they look scrumptious and I love that you’ve used beets for the natural colouring – no nasty additives there! 🙂
Thank you thank you 🙂 Beets really are the best natural food coloring ever! I almost want to use them to dye cloth…would that be pretty or weird? 🙂
Pretty I think! Its such a vibrant shade 🙂
That icing is downright sinful! Yum!
TOTALLY. But the pancakes are so virtuous 🙂
OMG ! This looks so delicious! i just can’t wait to try this! Thanks for sharing.
Thanks Vina! Hope you enjoy 🙂
Love that you used beets, that’s my one problem with red velvet anything is that I can’t get over how much food coloring goes into it!! Haha, isn’t it crazy what we’ll do to get a good photo?? Your frosting pictures came out perfectly 🙂
Aww thank you so much!! And I totally agree about red food coloring–so gross to think about all the chemicals you have to ingest for most commercial kinds!
These pancakes look scrumptious. And I most definitely want them in my belly right now. Like I want to run home and buy beets and have them for dinner. I’ve never used beets as food coloring, but I’ve seen it often and I love the idea. I actually really like how the color is kind of a muted red and not an artificial firetruck red. These are seriously beautiful Erika!
And I definitely understand the photo thing that you mentioned. So often, the very first thing I do when I get up in the morning is run out to my balcony to take some food photos. I know that my roommate probably thinks I’m crazy. But the light is so nice then!
Haha awww thank you so much! You totally should have them for dinner because um, wholesome much? And I’m glad you liked the red–I was worried they wouldn’t be red enough with the whole wheat flour and cocoa powder but beets have some serious color power!
Lol totally! Luckily my roommate puts up with all my crazy photography stunts (like stacking four chairs to create a light diffuser when I was trying indoor photography) but hahaha I’m sure she thinks I’m crazy on some level 🙂 You’re right-that morning light is just unbeatable!
Brandi @ TheHealthyFlavor.com
Oh yes, I’ve seen beets a lot of food coloring, it’s sooo much healthier! Yours look gorgeous as always!! I know what you mean about gummy too….it’s a huge challenge with vegan pancakes without the use of eggs. Eggs give them fluff and a lightness! It’s quite a challenge for me but I’ve learned a lot of tricks and am mastering my techniques and love baking. I always love what you post, definitely mouth watering!
I know, I tried making lemon poppyseed pancakes without eggs the other day and they were an utter, utter fail :(( Have you tried Post Punk Kitchen’s pillow pancakes? They are my absolute FAV vegan pancake, hands down. I mean, not that I’ve had a lot, but I liked them just as much as a “normal” pancake 🙂
Thank you so muchh 🙂
Brandi @ TheHealthyFlavor.com
Oh, I’ve actually made vegan work after many batches and many trials of different ingredients. I use apple cider vinegar, make sure my pan is well heated and make sure the battery’s not overly thick. I also partially cover with a lid so the top and center cook more evenly since vegan pancakes often have that problem of mushy centers. I also use coconut milk which I love in them 🙂 Hey, practice makes perfect right? Lol. I once saw on Elana’s pantry that she made 12 batches of cupcakes before perfecting a recipe! 🙂
Brandi @ TheHealthyFlavor.com
Oh and no, haven’t heard of that site, I’ll check it out thanks 🙂
Ohhhh my goodness! These are so interesting… I’m glad you saved the “beet” secret until I started reading your post so I went into this with an open mind. I’ve NEVER had beets but am somehow convinced I won’t like them (I have no idea why!). However, your recipes always inspire and intrigue! I swear, your pictures alone make me want to give grated veggies a shot. You’re so creative!
What the heck do you mean you don’t usually eat your creations? Does your boyfriend?! Please tell me they don’t go to waste?! They look way too amazing for that!
Hahaha okay I’m glad my strategy worked on at least one person! I can’t believe you’ve never had beets! Ugh, I’ve some of the most amazing salads with beets…beets, goat cheese, arugula, a little lemon, olive oil salt and pepper?? Yum.
Haha, but I know what it’s like to think that you just won’t like something (hello me and cream cheese frosting. I resisted it for years!) Think of beets as…really soft, maroon carrots 🙂 They really don’t have a strong taste at all. Haha I really think you should try them!!!
LOL yes, usually I try to pawn the leftovers off on my bf, my lovely roommate who is great about trying my baking failures and successes alike, or anyone else within feasible reach. I definitely eat some (in some cases, most!) of what I bake, but I try to give a lot of it away :)) (I can’t stand waste either!)
The Perky Poppy Seed
Love the idea of beets for the color:) and I bet they are super tasty too:)
Thank you! I thought they were tasty, though my beet-hating sister might disagree 🙂 But beets really are the most gorgeous color–I think they should be used more often!
Choc Chip Uru
Your photos and recipe are actually heaven my friend, absolutely perfect 😀
Choc Chip Uru
Thanks Uru 🙂 So sweet!
Healthy Glow Nutrition
Reblogged this on Healthy Glow Nutrition and commented:
Red Velvet Pancakes using beets instead of butter or oil or artificial food color. What a great idea! I just had to share this recipe!
Healthy Glow Nutrition
These look Amazing!!! The use of beets instead of oil and food color is amazing! This is such a great idea! I can use it to tint cakes, frosting etc! Thank you for such a great recipe and idea!
I’m so glad you like these!! I was worried I would scare everyone off haha 🙂 But I just LOVE beets! I made a beet red velvet cake and tinted the frosting pink and I thought it was so coool. I am so flattered that you reblogged these on your healthy blog! Thank you so much and have a great weekend 🙂
Healthy Glow Nutrition
I love beets too! Using artificial food color is so bad for you. My sister in law is super allergic to red dye and it is in EVERYTHING that is red out there. It is my pleasure to share your recipe and healthy alternatives to fat and food color. Really great idea 🙂 Have a great weekend as well 🙂