Truffala Tree Pancakes
'It's not about what it is, it's about what it can become.' - The Lorax, Dr. Suess.
March marks the wonderful Dr. Suess' birthday, and being quite the reader and having so many nieces and nephews, I find the day exciting. Long after my elementary school days with 'Read Across America,' I still think back to those days fondly, where the whole school would shut down to read in honor of the author's birthday. Too often, I wish we could still celebrate like that as adults.
This also presented an opportunity to have lots of fun with our pancakes. We could do green eggs and ham, and we did, but that felt like it would be too easy. We still wanted to have Suess-tastic pancakes!
As we were brainstorming I scanned the list of Dr. Suess books, even though I was already leaning towards The Lorax. A few years ago, we actually had a Dr. Suess themed baby shower for my sister-in-law, so brainstorming all things Dr. Suess wasn't too far out of an exercise.
The Lorax is a classic but it's special to me for a couple of reasons. First, my cousin Sukhjit loves the Lorax, and I miss her, so it made me happy to be able to make something she would love and let her know I was thinking of her. Second, and Greg probably doesn't remember this, but after we got engaged, we happened to walk through the Dr. Suess section of Universal when we got to the park the next day. We walked through the truffala trees with excitement. They were large and whimsical and the fact that we were engaged felt unreal, just like the truffala trees.
I thought about how I could make truffala trees for our pancakes, and whether or not that would really be enough to make them feel Suess-y. With the Lorax in mind, I think we ultimately created the kind of landscape with our pancakes that he would have dreamed of.
We decided with just a little green dye we could make the stack of pancakes look like a giant, green, rolling hill. But the trees were a little more difficult. For the baby shower I was trying to make truffala tree toppers for cupcakes with cotton candy. Unfortunately, getting cotton candy that was still light and airy was really difficult. Most store bought options tend to be dense and packed, and easily break when you try to pull it apart to get it to look a little more whispy.
I'm not sure exactly how I landed on it, but I figured we could get plenty of colorful cereals, and ones that were round like seeds. Although in hindsight, I don't know what shape truffala seeds are and they definitely don't need to be round. But I figured I could sprinkle some of the cereal into the pancake, like seeds being planted, and use the cereal to make trees, like rice krispies treats.
If you want truffala trees, you've got to plant truffala seeds, right?
We ended up getting a box of Captain Crunch 'Oops, Just the Berries' which had only the red blue and green cereal found in the berries mix. Which made it easier to estimate how many colorful pieces of cereal I would end up with from the one box. The last thing I wanted was to end up with a bunch of sugary cereal that I couldn't really use for the pancakes, and that neither Greg nor I was going to eat.
I sorted the cereal with reds and purples together, and greens and blues together. I wanted the trees to look painted and natural and like they were blowing in the wind. Pretty ambitious for Dr. Suess themed pancakes. I thought pairing similar colors together would get me close to that, and I had thick popsicle sticks at home in the craft box that I could use for the truffala tree trunk.
To make the trees, I used the original rice krispies treat recipe, here, and replaced the rice krispies with the berries. Rather than press the mixture into a pan to cut into squares, I used a spoon to form them into balls that I could insert the popsicle sticks into. Then I let the trees cool until the green pancake mountain was ready!
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3 Tbsp sugar
1 3/4 cups skim milk
Green food coloring, add until you get to the shade of green you want!
2 Tbsp low fat butter
2 eggs, separated
Oops Just the Berries, for sprinkling
1. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and sugar in a large bowl.
2. Add milk, butter, and egg yolks until combined.
3. Add egg whites, folding into batter until just mixed. There shouldn't be any weird snotty chunks of egg whites visible.
4. Mix in green food coloring, adding more for a darker green color.
5. In non stick skillet, add about 1/3 cup of batter for each pancake. Top with a sprinkling of berry ceral pieces (the seeds) as desired. Cook until small bubbles form, and edges of pancake are firm. Flip, cooking on other side for about another minute.
6. Top with butter, syrup, or fully grown Truffala Trees(see below). Enjoy!
3 tablespoons butter
1 package (10 oz., about 40) JET-PUFFED Marshmallows
-- OR --
4 cups JET-PUFFED Miniature Marshmallows
3 cups Captain Crunch 'Oops, Just the Berries'® cereal (red and purple)
3 cups Captain Crunch 'Oops, Just the Berries'® cereal (blue and green)
1. In large saucepan melt butter over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat and divide.
2. Add red and purple cereal, to one half, and blue and green to the other. Stir until well coated. Note that if you don't want to group the cereal by color, you could absolutely mix them all together!
3. Using buttered spatula or wax paper scoop mixture into round balls, and insert popsicle stick. Cool.
4. Stick in your stack of pancakes, or enjoy as is!
These pancakes were fun and silly and we enjoyed being able to just come up with something that looked goofy. Sometimes it's nice to not worry about the way something tastes and be able to play around with how it looks!
I'd love to know, what's your favorite Dr. Suess book?