I've been experimenting a bit with pancakes lately and have some findings to report.
I've been substituting some of the water in my pancakes for applesauce, both for flavor reasons and texture reasons. See, applesauce functions rather well as an emulsifier, kind of holding everything together. It will perform much the same function as eggs or oil in pretty much any recipe, while reducing the calories/fat/cholesterol/whatever added by those things, and adding a subtle sweetness component to your food at the same time. [For a healthy treat, try replacing all the oil from brownie mixes with applesauce; far less bad-for-you-stuff, same (or even "improved") brownie texture. Or, try adding applesauce to your French toast batter for the moistest French toast ever.]
The first time I substituted half a cup of the required 1.5 cups water for applesauce and found the cakes an improvement. They don't really taste "appley," per se, but the texture is a little bit more "chewey" despite the pancakes being extremely thick and airy. It came out so well that today I decided to kick it up a notch and substitute a whole cup of the required cup and a half water. The result was pancakes that were even better than the prior batch. The only thing you need to watch out for is that the applesauce adds quite a lot of sugar to the cakes (but it's "natural-found-in-fruit"-type sugar), which causes extra browning. You can compensate for this by turning the heat down a little; they'll cook a tad more slowly, but they'll come out wonderfully. I've got quite a sweet tooth, usually preferring to drown my pancakes in syrup, but I found these to be darn tasty all by themselves. They're still not really "appley" in flavor, but they're excellent, and not really dry like thick fluffy cakes usually are.
This applies primarily to "instant" or "just add water" style commercial pancake mixes, but I see no reason why it wouldn't work equally well if you are making your pancakes from scratch. The batter may seem alarmingly thick, and you will have to kind of "coax" it into pancake shapes on your griddle, but resist the temptation to add more liquid. Your faith will both be rewarded.
Be sure to let me know your results if you try it -- especially if I ruin your breakfast.
In case you've ever said to yourself, "Self, I bet pouring instant pudding into my electric icecream maker would make really awesome, really easy, really interesting ice cream," but never actually <i>tried</i> it, I'd like to point out that you'd have been right.
Pouring instant pudding into an icecream maker results in really creamy smooth delicious ice cream. The only thing I'd suggest is upping the amount of milk/cream/half&half/whatever. I'd say go with double what the box calls for.
When I figure out the perfect ratio, you'll be the first to know.
1) Making a simple syrup with crushed Fruity Pebbles in place of the sugar does not yield a tasty syrup. (Eventually the reason for doing this will be explained, I just don't want to spoil it yet. There is a method to my madness, I promise.)