Thursday, February 13, 2014

Pancakes/Waffles with Dark Chocolate and Coconut Pudding Filling (Taiyaki/Bungeoppang)

Snow day, snow day!  Woohoo!  Sunny and Rosy are thrilled to have me home for the day but they're not so thrilled with the snow.  Unfortunately I still have some conference calls to dial into, but at least I can make something fun at home like these taiyaki/bungeoppang!  Taiyaki is the Japanese version and Bungeoppang is the Korean version, and it's essentially a crisp pancake-y/waffle-y dough with some sort of fun filling inside.  Sweet red bean paste is the common and traditional filling, but there are all sorts of different fillings nowadays including different kinds of puddings, nutella, mashed sweet potatoes, custards, and even savory fillings like cheese or breakfast sandwichy kind of things.  In Japan and Korean it's common to find street vendors cooking these up fresh and serving them piping hot on cold wintry days.  While they now come in different molds, the fish one is the one that I remember growing up and it's the traditional shape oddly enough.

To make these fun little fish, first you need this bad boy

I got mine from Amazon but I bet you could find it way cheaper at an Asian market/store.

I almost didn't post this because there's no real recipe here and it involves a special type of pan, but something about these lil fish-shaped pancakes just make me happy and me and my family love these!  And snow days are just begging for something fun to make and eat!  While I like sweet red bean paste ok, it's not necessarily my favorite and I didn't have any red beans handy so instead I made something I'd like better - dark chocolate and coconut pudding!  Oh yeah.

These are best eaten fresh and hot, but I've frozen them and reheated them ok in the toaster oven.  Sometimes the filling doesn't heat up all the way, but in a way I actually like that even better!  You get the hot and crisp waffle-y texture on the outside and then an ice cream-y pudding inside!

[Update 2/15/14: I think next time I make these I'll add a tablespoon of sugar to the batter to sweeten it up.  If you use a pre-made pancake/waffle mix and you may want to add something to sweeten it up a bit.]

Servings: Depends on how much batter and filling you make.  You need a lot more batter than filling and you can cook two fish at a time.

Favorite pancake/waffle mix/recipe
14 oz can of coconut milk, divided
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt (coarse or sea salt, otherwise you might want to use a little less)
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
5 ounces (a little more than 1/2 cup) of dark chocolate, chips or coarse chunks


First we have to make the pudding so that it has time to chill.
  • Shake the can of coconut milk well and then in a medium saucepan or pot heat over low heat half the can of the coconut milk, 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 tsp salt.  Heat slowly and don't let the mixture boil.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the remaining coconut milk, 3 tbsps cornstarch, and 3 tbsps of cocoa powder.
  • Slowly add the cornstarch mixture to the saucepan/pot while stirring everything together well. Continue to whisk over low heat for a few minutes until the mixture starts to thicken and resemble a pudding texture.
  • Remove the saucepan/pot from heat and stir in 5 oz (approximately 1/2 cup) of dark chocolate and 1 tsp vanilla.  Continue stirring until all of the chocolate is melted and mixed in and the mixture is smooth and pudding-like.  
  • Pour pudding into a bowl, cover, and put in the refrigerator to chill for at least 2 hours.  If you want to avoid a skin forming at the top, you can press a plastic wrap against the top of the pudding.
Now it's time to make the taiyaki/bungeoppang!

  • There are more traditional recipes for the batter that use cake flour, but if you're lazy like me, just use your favorite pancake/waffle mix.  I used Bob's Red Mill 10-grain pancake/waffle mix in an effort to try to make these a little healthier (ha!) and followed the waffle instructions.
  • Oil the pan and heat it over low heat to warm it up.
  • Pour some batter into the fish molds so that they're about halfway filled.  You don't have to worry about getting the fin so much because as the batter heats up it'll spread, but the tail is a bit trickier so you may need to add a few dribbles there. 
  • Take your pudding (or favorite filling) and spoon it into the middle of the batter.  This will also spread when heated up so be careful to not overfill.  I found that about 1 tbsp was the right amount for me.
  • Then pour some more batter on top to cover the filling.  It's ok if you don't cover it completely but try to do as best as you can without overfilling the molds.  See my crappy attempt below (notice how I had to go back and fill in the bald spots in the tail, and I still had more to fill in the left one).

  • Shut the lid of the pan and then vigorously flip over the pan and heat the other side.  Flipping the pan with some force helps to dislodge the batter from the other side of the pan.
  • Continue cooking for a few minutes, flipping every minute or so until the fish are golden brown.  You can lift up the lid a bit to peek and make sure they're cooked all the way. 

  • If you overfilled then there will be some crunchy extras along the fish that you can remove with kitchen scissors, knife, or fingers.
  • Eat them quickly while they're still hot!  They'll start to get soggy if you let them sit out so if you don't plan on eating them soon consider freezing them so that you can reheat them later.
And now some pictures featuring my kitchen "helpers"!
Sniff the fish!
Rosy's moving to a better begging spot.
Sorry none for you girls, but if you pose nicely I'll give you a special dog treat!
Ok now time to test one of these out...
It's so hard to resist Sunny's begging when she puts on her saddest face and dances around on her back paws!  But no, this is most definitely not a dog-friendly treat!
And lest you think that all my fish were well shaped and browned on my first attempt, here's a plate of my rejects.
Sunny and Rosy offered to help me get rid of these rejects.  But I put them in the trash instead.  And by trash, I mean my stomach.
Chocolate pudding recipe adapted from The Kitchn.

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