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20 fresh takes for dressing a stack of pancakes

J.M. HIRSCH
The Associated Press
Modified: May 1, 2012 at 3:45 pm •  Published: May 1, 2012
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photo - In this image taken on March 26, 2012, a plate of pancakes with blueberries and granola mixed in the batter is displayed in Concord, N.H.  (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)
In this image taken on March 26, 2012, a plate of pancakes with blueberries and granola mixed in the batter is displayed in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)

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 sauteed in brown sugar? Or maybe Alex Guarnaschelli's molasses and honey simmer spiked with lemon juice and crisped bacon is more your style. Or keep is sweet and creamy with Melissa D'Arabian's cream cheese whipped with lemon juice and powdered sugar, then topped with fresh raspberries.

Here are 20 of the best suggestions:

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PANCAKE TOPPER IDEAS

— In a small saucepan over medium heat, warm one part molasses to two parts honey, a splash of water, a pinch each of salt and black pepper, a squeeze of lemon juice and some chopped crisp bacon. Simmer until the flavors meld together. (From Food Network's Alex Guarnaschelli of "Chopped All-Stars")

— 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")

— Saute fresh pineapple cubes in brown sugar, then deglaze the pan with a bit of coconut milk and reduce till it has a syrup-like 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")

— Saute 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")

— Saute 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)

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