I've called these cheesecake pancakes because, as my good friend Helen remarked while eating them this morning (well, afternoon, but ssh), they taste like cheesecake. It's the combination of ricotta, eggs and vanilla extract; your basic cheesecake mixture. On top of that, I made a cranberry and orange compote to accompany them, which is very like your basic red berry coulis that you often find on a vanilla cheesecake (but more interesting due to the use of oranges and brown sugar). Together, the two are completely wonderful; a delicious and dramatic-looking winter brunch.
The best thing about these pancakes is the way the ricotta and beaten eggs gives them a delicious fluffy centre - again, just like a cheesecake. They're very light and creamy, which makes them a perfect match for the bright, vibrant red of the fruit compote. This compote is delicious - it's actually just the same as the cranberry sauce I made for Christmas dinner last year, but without the addition of port, and with a little more sugar. It only needs about ten minutes in the pan to turn into a thick, jammy mass of sharp fruit, warm cinnamon and rich, sugary orange. Perfect for spooning abundantly over the pillowy white pancakes.
Essentially, you're basically eating a deconstructed cheesecake for breakfast. And what, I ask you, could possibly be more tempting than that?
Cheesecake pancakes (serves 2):
Preheat the oven to 120C.
For the compote, place two handfuls of cranberries (I used fresh because I had some frozen, but you could use dried outside their short season) in a pan with the zest and juice of an orange, a cinnamon stick, 4tbsp sugar (I used muscovado, but it doesn't really matter) and a drop of water. Heat until the berries burst, then allow to bubble for a while until thick and jammy - you might need to add more water if it's too thick. Taste to check the sweetness - you might want more sugar, depending on how tart you like your fruit.
For the pancakes, combine 250g ricotta and 4tbsp caster sugar in a bowl. Mix in three egg yolks (keep the whites), and fold in 50g sifted plain flour. Stir in half a teaspoon vanilla extract (or more, if you love vanilla).
Whisk the egg whites in a separate bowl until stiff, as you would for a meringue. Fold gently into the cheese and egg mixture to make a very light, fluffy batter.
Heat a knob of butter in a frying pan. Drop the mixture onto the hot pan in spoonfuls. Allow to cook for a few minutes, then flip over - they're very fragile, so do it quickly or they'll go everywhere (not that this really matters). Put the pancakes in the oven to keep warm while you make the next batch.
Serve with a large dollop of compote and a dusting of icing sugar. Delicious.