As pancake toppings go, maple syrup is swell and certainly traditional, if not particularly inspired.
But if you're going to go to the trouble of griddling up a stack of hot pancakes for Mom on Mother's Day — or for anyone on any day, for that matter — consider going the extra step and whipping up a more creatively delicious topping.
We asked chefs, cookbook authors and food bloggers around the nation to come up with easy suggestions for topping a stack of hotcakes. The only rule: No maple syrup allowed.
Perhaps you'd like cookbook author Dorie Greenspan's bananas sautéed in brown sugar? Or maybe Food Network chef Alex Guarnaschelli's molasses and honey simmer spiked with lemon juice and crisped bacon
is more your style. Or keep it sweet and creamy with Melissa D'Arabian's cream cheese whipped with lemon juice and powdered sugar, then topped with fresh raspberries.
J.M Hirsch, The Associated Press
Pancake topper ideas
• Toss huckleberries with cane sugar, vanilla extract and fresh lemon juice. Allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes, allowing for a light sauce to extract from the berries. Spread the berries over pancakes (lemon-ricotta pancakes are particularly good) and drizzle with some of the sauce. (From Gabriel Caliendo, executive chef for the Lazy Dog Cafe chain in California)
• Heat lemon curd, then drizzle it over pancakes and sprinkle with fresh blueberries. (From Karen DeMasco, pastry chef at Locanda Verde restaurant in New York)
• Make banana syrup by slicing and microwaving an overripe (black) banana until very soft and syrupy. Spoon over pancakes with a dollop of Greek-style yogurt, toasted pecans and a dash of cinnamon. (From Lourdes Castro, author of "Simply Mexican")
• Sauté fresh pineapple cubes in brown sugar, then deglaze the pan with a bit of coconut milk and reduce till it has a syruplike consistency. Pour over the pancakes and top with whipped cream and toasted coconut flakes. (From Roger Stettler, executive chef for the Four Seasons Resort Maui)
• Mix ricotta cheese with a dash of honey and spoon over pancakes topped with blueberry jam. (From Jill Donenfeld and Josie Gordon, authors of "Party Like a Culinista")
• Sauté apple slices with butter and sugar, then spoon them over the pancakes. Sprinkle with toasted pecans, then drizzle with dulce de leche. (From Daisy Martinez, author of "Daisy: Morning, Noon and Night")
• Sauté sliced pears and pineapple chunks until soft. Add a squeeze or two of lemon juice, some sugar and vanilla extract. (From Sarabeth Levine of Sarabeth's Kitchen restaurants in New York)
• As soon as you pour the pancake batter into the pan, top it with granola and fresh blueberries, then continue cooking as normal. (From Barb Stuckey, author of "Taste What You're Missing")
• Sauté sliced bananas in butter with a sprinkle of brown sugar. Cook until the bananas are lightly caramelized. (From Dorie Greenspan, author of "Around My French Table")
• Top pancakes with chopped fresh figs, crumbled blue cheese and a drizzle of agave syrup. (From Matt Christianson at Urban Farmer restaurant in Portland, Ore.)
• Macerate raspberries with fresh mint, brown sugar, maraschino liqueur and toasted almonds. Fold all of the ingredients together and let stand for 30 minutes before serving. (From Fabio Trabocchi, executive chef at Fiola restaurant in Washington, D.C.)
• Warm fresh blueberries or blackberries in several tablespoons of fruit syrup (such as passion fruit). Season with pinches of ground cardamom, then mix in a small handful of fresh mint leaves. (From Lisa Yockelson, author of "Baking Style: Art, Craft, Recipes")
• Make a quick drizzle by whisking together lemon juice, cream cheese and powdered sugar. Top with fresh raspberries. (From Melissa D'Arabian, author of the forthcoming "Ten Dollar Dinners")
TOP OF THE MORNING
Interesting pancakes and toppings around Denver:
Syrup, 300 Josephine St. No. 20, 720-945-1111; syrupdenver.com. Handcrafted syrups: blackberry, strawberry, maple-vanilla; gluten-free options
Toast, 2700 W. Bowles Ave., Littleton, 303-797-9543; toastygoodness .com. Bananas Foster, peach berry crumble, sausage and gravy
Two Dog Diner, 645 Tenacity Drive, Longmont, 303-772-2DOG; twodogdiner .com. Buttermilk, honey whole wheat and potato
Jelly, 600 E. 13th Ave., 303-831-6301; eatmorejelly.com. Buttermilk, bacon, seasonal and gluten-free blueberry rice
Snooze, an A.M. Eatery, 700 Colorado Blvd., 2262 Larimer St., Denver; 144 W. Mountain Ave., Fort Collins; 6781 S. York St., Centennial; 1617 Pearl St., Boulder; snoozeeatery.com. Pineappple, sweet potato, red-velvet and cherry-bourbon; gluten-free options
Breakfast on Broadway, 2901 S. Broadway, Englewood, 303-788-9998; breakfastonbroadway.com. Buckwheat, cornmeal and traditional
Breakfast on the Edge, 2045 Sheridan Blvd., Edgewater, 720-328-5806; breakfast ontheedge.com. Vegan Johnnycakes, rice, butternut squash pancakes
Winona's, 617 Lincoln Ave., Steamboat Springs, 970-879-2483; facebook.com/Winonas Restaurant. Blueberry granola pancakes
Wild Eggs, 300 E. Alameda Ave., 303-744-3447; wildeggs .com. Peanut-butter syrup, lemon curd, raspberry sauce
Kristen Browning-Blas and William Porter