Have your cake and eat pancakes, too! These tropical carrot cake pancakes have sweet bits of pineapple and golden raisins, crunchy carrots and walnuts, and a delicious pineapple cream cheese drizzle to complete the entire carrot cake experience.
Ok, guys. Forget what I ever said about pancakes being bland and comparing their flavor to dust. I’m sorry—I was wrong. These tropical carrot cake pancakes are the best cakes I’ve ever made, consumed, or looked at (in person).
The inspiration came from several places and it’s actually pretty interesting to see how ideas for recipes can spiral into being. So keep reading if you’re interested in my creative process, otherwise just skip to the recipe at the bottom—I’ll still love you.
The first time I heard of carrot cake pancakes was from an episode of Brunch at Bobby’s circa 2013? I love carrot cake, so they had potential, but since I was a pancake hater I didn’t think twice about actually making them. Fast forward to this year I see the same episode, but now I’m intrigued—pancakes still aren’t my favorite, but I bet I can make these taste ah-maze.
So now that I have a starting point, here is when my Ditch the Recipe mentality kicks in and I get to be creative by asking myself two things: how can I make this taste better and how can I make this more original?
Essentially I’m asking where can I add flavor and how can I make this fit me—my tastes, dietary preferences, etc. Does the recipe feel balanced? Is there anything missing? Is there something I can add that will complement the flavors without taking away from the essence of the original dish? Can I swap a fat for a healthier alternative? A dairy product for plant-based? And so on.
For this recipe, I knew I definitely wanted to incorporate pineapple and not just because I’ve been on a pineapple craze, lately! When my grandma passed away last year (RIP Mimsie, I miss you) my dad and I were looking through a family recipe book and ran across a carrot cake recipe my dad acquired at the hospital after recovering from triple bypass surgery. One of the first real meals he got to eat after ended with this delicious carrot cake, so he obviously snagged the recipe.
Getting to the pineapple part—promise!
So, I ended up taking the carrot cake recipe home with me and I was happy to find pineapple as one of the ingredients. The cake was extremely moist and naturally sweet from the pineapple, so I wanted to mimic those same flavors in my pancakes. To reinforce the pineapple even further, I made a pineapple cream cheese drizzle. And the drizzle got me feeling tropical, so that’s where the shredded coconut came into play. Plus, I love the texture it gives the pancakes, along with the carrots, walnuts, and chewy raisins. Like I said in the Salad 101 from my Teriyaki chicken salad post, texture is everything.
You could definitely use maple syrup instead of the cream cheese drizzle, but I’m telling you, the drizzle is what ties the whole thing together and gives you that ultimate carrot cake experience.
TROPICAL CARROT CAKE PANCAKES + PINEAPPLE CREAM CHEESE DRIZZLE
Makes 10-12 pancakes
For the pancakes
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 4 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 3 tbsp coconut oil, melted and cooled
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 3/4 cups finely grated carrots (2 medium carrots), patted dry
- 1/4 finely chopped pineapple, patted dry
- 2 tbsp golden raisins, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup walnuts, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp shredded coconut (optional)
- cooking spray, butter, ghee, or coconut oil
For the pineapple cream cheese drizzle
- 8 oz cream cheese, softened
- 3/4 cup pineapple syrup (see below)
- 4 tbsp butter, softened
- hot water (to thin)
For the pineapple syrup
- 1/2 a fresh pineapple, cut into chunks
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup water
For the pineapple syrup
Prep the pineapple for your syrup the night before by cutting up half a pineapple into chunks and placing in a glass bowl with 1/2 cup sugar. Toss to coat, cover, and refrigerate overnight. Keep the rest of the pineapple for the pancakes and to garnish.
The next day, make a simple syrup by pouring 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water in a saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves and a syrupy liquid forms. Remove from and set aside. Pour pineapple and all the juices from the sugar in a blender and pulse to combine. Add warm simple syrup and blend. Strain pineapple mixture through a strainer lined with a cheesecloth, making sure to squeeze all the liquid out. You will have more than you need for the recipe—store in a mason jar and use for other sauces or cocktails!
For the cream cheese drizzle
In a stand mixer, whip softened cream cheese, butter, and pineapple syrup until smooth. Add a little hot water to thin if sauce is too thick.
For the pancakes
Prep carrots, pineapple, raisins, and walnuts. For the carrots, finely grate in a food processor and then pat dry with paper towels or wring out excess liquid through a cheesecloth. Finely dice pineapple and pat dry or squeeze through cheesecloth. Finely chop raisin and walnuts. Set all mise en place aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, and salt until just combined. In another bowl, whisk together eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla. Add carrots, pineapple, and shredded coconut (if using) and mx well. Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture, along with the melted coconut oil and gently combine with a spatula. Fold in walnuts and raisins until all ingredients are just barely combined. It will be thick and chunky.
Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.
Heat a griddle or large nonstick skillet over medium to med-low heat and coat with cooking spray or fat of choice. Scoop 1/4 cup batter onto the skillet and cook until golden brown and small bubbles form on the top. Flip pancakes and cook another minute until bottoms are golden brown. Keep pancakes in the oven to stay warm until ready to serve.
Garnish pancakes with extra pineapple, walnuts, grated carrots, coconut, and pineapple cream cheese drizzle.