Maybe it is my fiercely guarded independence, but Fourth of July has always been one of my favorite holidays.


Tatjana and friends in Clear Lake, Iowa

I love everything about it – the feel of the scorching sun drenched dock beneath my bare feet, the refreshing chill of the lake on my cheeks as I dive in…


Fireworks in Vail, CO

The slight flinch that happens every time I hear a firework explode followed by a childlike awe of the colors bursting through the sky. Sinking my teeth into a juicy piece of grilled steak and crunching the corn kernels between my teeth, or a face full of watermelon dripping all over my t-shirt.


Julie Anne Rhodes, Mikki Pallas, and Lee Lindsey in Malibu

But, my favorite part of all – is my new tradition of waking to the breakfast of patriots – okay so maybe I’m stretching the truth a bit (I seriously doubt George Washington or Thomas Jefferson ate them for breakfast), but any excuse for red velvet pancakes and waffles is worthy a wee bit of embellishment, don’t you think?

What decadent indulgences will you be taking part in this holiday weekend? Have a fabulous, but safe one!

RED VELVET PANCAKES & WAFFLES

The Waldorf Astoria’s Red Velvet cake has been my absolute favorite since I was a very young girl. You can imagine my delight when I saw red velvet pancakes on the menu at the Larchmont Bungalow, and they certainly did NOT disappoint! This is my own rendition for the Fourth of July.

SERVINGS: 4

INGREDIENTS:

FOR THE WHIPPED CREAM CHEESE TOPPING

1/4 pound cream cheese, at room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup heavy whipping cream

FOR THE PANCAKES OR WAFFLES

1 1/4 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 scant teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 egg
4 tablespoons canola oil plus 1-2 tablespoons extra for making pancakes
1 cup buttermilk
1 ounce red food color
1 teaspoon cocoa
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon white vinegar

ADDITIONAL TOPPINGS

melted butter, optional
warm maple syrup, optional
pecans or walnuts, optional

DIRECTIONS:

1). Use an electric mixer on medium-high speed to whip the cream cheese until smooth. Reduce the speed and stir in the sugar, salt, and vanilla extract, and beat until the mixture is smooth and well blended. With the mixer on low speed, add half of the cream. Use a rubber spatula to remove any unmixed cream cheese from the bottom of the bowl. When the mixture is smooth, gradually add the rest of the whipping cream. Increase the speed to high and whip until soft peaks form. Should be the consistency of a dense whipped cream topping. Set aside.

2). Stir flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder together in a large mixing bowl. Mix in egg, oil, and buttermilk. Mix until smooth.

3). Mix red food color and cocoa in a small bowl, then stir into batter. Add vanilla, baking soda, and vinegar (in that order), and beat until everything is well incorporated, about 2 minutes.

4). Heat 1-2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once oil starts to form ridges, drop a large spoonful of batter into the hot oil. Repeat 3 more times, keeping ample space between pancakes to keep them from running together. When the batter begins to bubble, carefully flip the pancake to brown on the other side, about 2 minutes per side.

5). Serve hot with whipped cream cheese topping, and any additional topping you desire.Servings suggestion: Crispy bacon and sausages.

VARIATION:

Make waffles with the batter, and serve with a good vanilla bean ice cream and chocolate sauce for dessert.

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