2 tablespoons packed Muscovado sugar or brown sugar
1 cup buttermilk*
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups finely grated carrots (about 6 big or 8 smallish carrots)**
Butter, for griddle
Maple cream cheese topping
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons real maple syrup
2 tablespoons milk (more or less depending on desired consistency)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Dash of ground cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit so you can keep the pancakes warm before serving. Spoon the cream cheese into a bowl and leave it out at room temperature to soften.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.
In a smaller bowl, whisk together the egg, Muscovado/brown sugar, buttermilk and vanilla.
Stir in the carrots, then dump the wet mixture into the dry mixture all at once. Stir just until incorporated. Let the mixture rest for 5 minutes while you make the cream cheese topping and preheat your griddle/skillet.
Whisk the cream cheese in a small bowl until it is uniformly soft and pliable, with no lumps. If your cream cheese is not soft enough yet to do this, try zapping it in the microwave for just a few seconds at a time. Whisk in the maple syrup, milk, vanilla and cinnamon. Feel free to sweeten with more syrup or further thin it out further with more milk. Set aside.
Over medium heat, melt a big pat of butter in a cast-iron skillet or griddle. Pour a scant 1/4 cup batter into the hot pan, using the measuring cup to pat the batter down and out a bit. Cook, flipping once, until the pancakes are golden on both sides.
Place pancakes on an ovenproof plate and keep in the oven while you cook the remaining pancakes, adding more butter to the pan as needed. Top with maple cream cheese and serve with extra maple syrup on the side, in case someone wants to sweeten it up further.
*Make your own buttermilk by combining 1 cup milk with 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Let it sit for 5 minutes then proceed as directed.
**If you have a food processor with a grating attachment, grate the carrots using the grating attachment. Then replace the grating attachment with your regular multipurpose blade. Pulse the carrots up to 10 times, until they are finely grated finely but not mush (see photo above).