Crunchy Bananas with Cinnamon-Chili-Chocolate Sauce, February 1-2, 20-22
"If pancakes were a churro, they would be like this," Lahman said, describing the month's first special. "Neil and I were in Mexico a couple of years ago and got really into the chili-chocolate combination." This comes through in the housemade fudge sauce, which is laced with chili and cinnamon. The sauce tops the pancakes (made with thinly sliced bananas) and the ample spears of crunchy banana, which are fried in what Kleinberg calls a "beer batter without the beer." He uses seltzer as a carbonated substitute, along with flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, and cinnamon. The special has been so well received in years past that it will be featured twice in 2012—"People are rabid about it," Lahman said. "I bet we'll get a bunch of stoners in at night. They'll be really excited."
Poached Pears, Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream, Warm Maple Butter, February 3-6
Poached pears are the star of this special—slow cooked in a combination of white wine, vanilla bean, lemon, sugar, cinnamon sticks, and cloves, they are both halved and served on top of the pancake stack, and sliced and baked into the pancakes themselves. A dollop of vanilla bean whipped cream, made with vanilla beans ground into sugar, and a reduction of the poaching liquid top the pancakes as well.
Almond Frangipane, Fresh Raspberries, Toasted Almonds, Raspberry Caramel Sauce, February 7-9
A cake within a cake, almond frangipane is crumbled into the pancake batter in addition to being served on top of the pancakes, along with fresh raspberries and toasted almonds. "We always have fresh raspberries in-house," Lahman said. "I love them with the almond frangipane, it's my favorite!"
Japanese Pumpkin Pancake, Pumpkin Seed Streusel, Warm Maple Butter, February 10-13
Lahman came up with this flavor combination after "eating a lot of Japanese pumpkin at Peace Food Cafe," the popular Upper West Side vegan restaurant. She appreciated that the kabocha pumpkin "was savory in a way, but could take on sweet properties very well." Kleinberg makes a pumpkin pie filling with the kabocha which he mixes into the pancake batter along with larger pieces of roasted pumpkin. The pancakes are topped with a pumpkin seed streusel and served with salted caramel along with warm maple butter.
Valentine's Day Special: Chocolate Chunks and Brandied Burgundy Cherries
Lahman described this special as "an obvious classic," particularly for Valentine's Day. "We try not to get too cheesy, but who doesn't love chocolate chunks?"
Banana Pancakes with Bavarian Cream, Toasted Coconut, Warm Maple Butter, February 15-16
"These are a throwback to an old-style pancake house," Lahman said. "Like IHOP, but hopefully a lot better!" Classic banana pancakes are topped with a sweet, housemade Bavarian cream, and sprinkled with fresh toasted coconut.
Fresh Coconut Pancakes, Kumquat Syrup, Bruleed Bananas, February 23-24
These coconut pancakes are Kleinberg's homage to his favorite breakfast place in Australia, Bill's. While he makes some kind of coconut pancakes every year, this year is the first time he's used kumquats. "We've been using a lot of kumquat at Community," Lahman said, referring to the couple's uptown restaurant. The kumquats are sliced and poached in simple syrup and orange juice; a kumquat syrup tops the pancakes as well, along with shaved fresh coconut and crispy bruleed bananas.
Chocolate Chunks, Fresh Raspberries, Raspberry-Caramel Sauce, February 27-29
This dish was the Valentine's Day special last year, and was such a hit that it is making a reappearance. Bittersweet chocolate chunks and fresh raspberries are found inside and on top of the pancakes, along with the raspberry-caramel sauce featured in the almond frangipane pancakes. "It's so good we have to use it twice!" Kleinberg said.
Where the pancake magic happens.