As the New Year approaches and we look back at 2010, lists of America’s favorite trends, moments, songs, pictures, scandals, and failures are ubiquitous. I recently read an article in the Seattle Times informing readers that ice cream and cupcakes are over (who wouldn’t love cranberry turkey cupcakes with gravy flavored frosting?) and the next big thing has arrived-pie! Pie with bacon, pie with cheese and chiles, butter pie! Then, this morning I read that pie is already so passé and people are going nuts over macarons, those dainty little French cookies.

But before someone predicts the next food craze, let me cut to the chase: we have a fascination with reinventing comfort foods. No matter what fad diet is in, whether we’re in an economic recession, boom, or bubble, people will always want comfort food.

One of my favorite comfort foods is definitely pancakes. Growing up my parents used a mix for quick and easy morning treats, but as my tastes have changed so have my pancakes. I make pancakes all the time now, about once a week. I’ve even reached “grandma status” where I don’t need a recipe anymore, I just dump the ingredients in a bowl and it works every time.

The thing with comfort foods is that sometimes, as good as the originals are they get boring. They need a breath of fresh air, a bit of spontaneity, some fun. Pancakes, like cupcakes, ice cream, and pies, are just a little more interesting when they aren’t quite what you expected. Now I’m not planning on making anchovy and olive griddle cakes anytime soon, but I do like to play around with my recipe.

Different flours, grains, fruits, vegetables, extracts and spices are easy ways to embellish your morning meal. Inspiration is everywhere, including places you’d least expect to find it. Like a taco stand.

Like horchata. Horchata is a delicious agua fresca commonly found in Mexican taquerias. Made from rice, sometimes almonds, cinnamon and vanilla, horchata is sweet, light, and refreshing. And as I found out this morning, it makes a delicious pancake flavor. Now before you call me loco, think about it: tender pancakes tasting of slightly nutty brown rice, warm cinnamon, and floral vanilla. This recipe just might round out your top ten favorite breakfasts list this year.

Horchata Pancakes

Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Makes 12-16 pancakes, depending on the size


1 ½ cups cooked brown rice (leftover works great
1 cup whole wheat flour
½ cup all purpose flour½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 eggs
½ cup plain yogurt (I like Mountain High, non-fat is fine)
1 ½ cups milk (I use skim)
Nonstick cooking spray

To Serve

Maple syrup (optional)
Butter (optional)

Mash the brown rice with a potato masher, fork, or pulse in a food processor. You could also leave the rice whole if you prefer, it would just have a more coarse texture. Toss the rice with the flours, salt, baking powder and soda, sugar, and cinnamon until it is well coated and all the ingredients are mixed.

In a separate bowl, whisk the vanilla, eggs, yogurt, and milk until smooth. Pour the wet mixture onto the dry ingredients and fold together with a spatula. Don’t over mix!

Heat a nonstick pan or griddle over medium heat. Spray the pan evenly with nonstick spray. Using a measuring cup, pour ¼ cup of batter into the pan. Repeat until the pan is full (I usually do four at a time). When bubbles on top of the pancakes appear and the bottoms are golden brown (lift one up a little to check) they are ready to flip. Cook on the other side until golden brown. Serve immediately with the syrup and butter, if using.

If you are cooking for a crowd, keep pancakes warm in a 200°F oven until ready to serve (up to one hour). Extras can be cooled and refrigerated for up to three days or frozen for up to two months. To reheat later, heat in a toaster or toaster oven until hot.