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:
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)
— As soon as you pour the pancake batter into the pan, top it with granola and fresh blueberries, then continue cooking as normal. (From Barb Stuckey, author of "Taste What You're Missing")
— Saute sliced bananas in butter with a sprinkle of brown sugar. Cook until the bananas are lightly caramelized. (From Dorie Greenspan, author of "Around my French Table")
— Make a simple syrup using a 2-to-1 ratio of brown sugar to water. Simmer, then add grated fresh ginger and diced fresh mango. (From Rafael Gonzalez, executive chef at Fountain Restaurant at Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia)
— Simmer 2 tablespoons of water, then whisk in 3 tablespoons of butter, then 3 tablespoons of honey and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Use warm. (From Andrew Carmellini, author of "American Flavor")
— Top chocolate chip pancakes with warmed Nutella and chopped toasted hazelnuts. (From Kathleen King, owner of Tate's Bake Shop in Southampton, N.Y.)
— Simmer chunks of peeled apple in brandy until very tender, then spoon over the pancakes. Top with sour cream or creme fraiche spiked with ground cardamom, nutmeg or cinnamon. (From Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan, founding editor of the website Apartment Therapy: The Kitchn)
— Top pancakes with chopped fresh figs, crumbled blue cheese and a drizzle of agave syrup. (From Matt Christianson at Urban Farmer restaurant in Portland, Ore.)
— Macerate raspberries with fresh mint, brown sugar, maraschino liqueur and toasted almonds. Fold all of the ingredients together and let stand for 30 minutes before serving. (From Fabio Trabocchi, executive chef at Fiola restaurant in Washington, D.C.)
— Warm fresh blueberries or blackberries in several tablespoons of fruit syrup (such as passion fruit). Season with pinches of ground cardamom, then mix in a small handful of fresh mint leaves. (From Lisa Yockelson, author of "Baking Style: Art, Craft, Recipes")
— Combine sorghum syrup, lemon zest, orange juice and cinnamon. Bring to a boil, then drizzle over the pancakes. (From Hugh Acheson, author of "A New Turn in the South")
— Make a quick drizzle by whisking together lemon juice, cream cheese and powdered sugar. Top with fresh raspberries. (From Melissa D'Arabian, author of the forthcoming "Ten Dollar Dinners")
— A pancake version of croque madam — stack dollar-size pancakes, layering fried egg and ham between them. (From Michael Uhnak at Besaw's restaurant in Portland, Ore.)