Pancakes are the quintessential sweet staple for breakfast. From time to time I like to jazz things up a bit and introduce not-so-common ingredients into recipes that are quite common and the recipe for Citrus Cream Cheese Pancakes is just that.

I got the inspiration for this recipe from a trip to New York City where I made a trip to Sarabeth’s Bakery Restaurant for their world famous Lemon Ricotta Pancakes. These pancakes are other-worldly. They are light and fluffy bursting with lemon flavor and a subtle tang from the ricotta cheese.

I wanted to recreate the recipe, but with more common staples that I have in my pantry. I paired any type of citrus with cream cheese for the ultimate pancake. The tip to get the most citrus flavor out of recipes is simple. Rub the zest of the citrus between your fingertips along with the sugar of the recipe. This action releases the essential oils in the zest, making the bright citrus pop even more!

These pancakes contain a bit more sugar than a common box mix. Be sure to knock the heat down a tiny bit from the stovetop or electric skillet to avoid overbrowning or burning.

To try a Key lime version of this recipe, use the juice and zest of Key limes. Then instead of maple syrup to serve alongside, make a simple confectioner’s cream cheese glaze with 2 cups of powdered sugar, 2 ounces of soft cream cheese and enough Key lime juice to make a smooth glaze. Garnish with graham cracker crumbs and swirls of sweetened freshly whipped cream and Key lime slices!

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I’ve found that this recipe is quite complementary when served with pure maple syrup! Be sure to try it!

Citrus Cream Cheese Pancakes

Makes 12 pancakes

1/4 cup granulated sugar

Zest of one lemon or orange

2¼ cups all purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

4 ounces cream cheese, softened

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3/4 cup whole milk, plus 1/4 cup citrus juice (If citrus being used doesn’t yield one cup, simply add more milk to make the balance of liquid 1 full cup.)

Instructions:

In a small bowl combine sugar and citrus zest. Rub zest between fingertips against sugar to release essential oils of citrus for better flavor.

In a large bowl whisk dry ingredients together.

In another large bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add eggs and vanilla extract, beat well.

Then whisk in the oil, eggs and vanilla extract, followed by the milk mixture, into the cream cheese mixture.

Gently fold the wet ingredients into the flour mixture.

Heat a large frying pan or electric griddle to low-medium heat. Lightly grease with oil, butter or nonstick cooking spray. Use a 1/3 cup measure to scoop batter onto greased cooking surface. Cook pancakes until edges begin to appear dry and bubbles form on top of batter. Flip and continue cooking until both sides are golden. Serve with maple syrup. Makes 12 pancakes.

Cristen Clark lives on an Iowa farm where her family raises corn, soybeans, pigs and cattle. She loves cooking and writing, and sharing contest winning recipes with people she knows. She can be reached at cristen@foodandswine.com or at foodandswine.com.