Corn dogs with pancake mix is the perfect way to bring that carnival feel to your evening at home or weekend vacationing in.
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If you love corn dogs and funnel cakes, there is no need to wait a whole year for the carnival to come to town before you can enjoy your favorite corn dog recipe pancake mix.
Solving the Problem of Bringing Home the Carnival Flavor
The biggest problem with bringing that carnival flavor home is getting the corn batter just right for corn dogs. Cornbread batter is too heavy. It doesn’t stick well to the sausages, and it tends to slide off, cooking in chunks that are separate from the dogs.
You could use a frozen corn dog dipped in pancake batter and then deep fried to see if you could recreate the moment, but those pre-cooked dogs always have that odd made-ahead and frozen taste. And while the layering of pancake batter and corn batter could be amusing, it probably isn’t quite what you have in mind.
No need to despair, however. You can bring creative do it yourself skills to re-creating the flavors of the county fair or the day the circus came to town.
The Perfect Solution
The perfect solution is pancake corn dogs. Add about ¼ cup of cornmeal to your favorite pancake batter recipe or box mix.
The wheat-flour based pancake mix has better “sticking” power and is already prepped with a leavening agent to make them puff up and look like the ones served at your favorite carnival stand. When it comes to putting together a meal that will set a mood, appearance counts. Perhaps not as much as the flavor, but it definitely does count.
Ideas from Mexico
Another solution is to use masa harina as about 1/3 of the flour in your favorite pancake recipe. Masa harina is not true cornmeal. It is a preparation based on white corn that has been prepped similarly to hominy, but ground instead of being cooked as hominy.
Soaking dried corn in calcium hydroxide, as is done to prepare hominy or masa harina releases niacin, making it more available to the human body. So using this corn flour in your corn dog batter actually ups the nutritional value of the dish.
More than that, the Masa has a better texture for creating a dough than plain old cornmeal. After all, it has been used for generations to create tortillas and similar foods. It is hard to argue with a tradition of success.
Increase the Nutrition
You can turn your homemade corn dogs into a nutritional powerhouse through your selection of sausages for the dish. Look for brands that do not contain nitrates and that are low-sodium. Even the pork or chicken dogs can sometimes be pumped full of extra salt.
“Uncured” is another good word to look for when selecting hot dogs – just don’t expect to eat them “raw” out of the package as you might your ordinary cured sausage. In fact, you can use link sausages as the meat in your homemade corn dogs.
Selecting good meat that is low in sodium, preservatives and fat will go a long way toward improving not only the nutritional value of your corn dogs but also the overall healthiness of cookery that is generally considered to be junk food.
We wouldn’t go so far as to suggest that sometimes it is necessary to trick your family into eating healthy, but there could be an element of truth in that suggestion.
After all, why not make something that is fun to eat into something that is also good to eat?
One of the little-known thoughts about food is that nutritious food that is well prepared also tastes good – and that can be just as true for corn dogs as for any other dish.
You can even make vegan corn dogs by purchasing hot dogs that have been created using textured vegetable protein. Since hot dogs are already ground meat that is often treated with a lot of spices, it is easy to disguise TVP as real meat. Add a little breading, and do the deep frying in olive oil, and you have something that is truly tasty.
How to Make Corn Dogs with Pancake Mix
Corn dogs with pancake mix is a super easy way to create homemade corn dogs or little sausage poppers. Because you are using pancake mix, much of the measuring and sifting work has already been done for you.
They are also a good way to disguise good nutrition as a fun, junk food. If they taste good, your kids will be enthusiastic about repeat meals, and so will your spouse. If you are single, you can impress your friends and any other family members you must entertain for the holidays. This fun food also makes a portable dish to take to office parties.
Here is the basic mix. From here, it is easy to get creative with your DIY corn dogs.
- 3 cups pancake mix
- 1 cup masa harina or yellow cornmeal (or mix and match – they don’t taste quite the same)
- 1 egg
- 2 cups water
- 1 tablespoon corn oil
Combine the pancake mix with the cornflour or meal. Add the egg and the water to make a thin (but not too thin) batter, that is about the consistency of pancake batter. Add 1 tablespoon of corn oil, and stir it all together.
Lay out the hot dogs or sausages on a paper towel. Insert wooden skewers lengthwise into the sausages. Or, if you would rather make bite-sized hors d’oeuvres of them, cut the dogs or sausages into bite-sized pieces.
Getting the Batter to Stick
Pat the sausages dry with a clean cloth or paper towel. This is one of the secrets to getting the batter to stick to the sausages and not simply roll off. If you are using raw sausages that are not cooked at all, you might want to precook them before battering.
The second secret to getting the batter to stick to the sausages is to roll each one in flour before dipping them into the batter.
The Third secret is to pour the batter into a tall glass or similar container – one that will allow the batter to come all the way up around the skewered hot dog. You can keep topping this up as you batter your dogs.
Choices about Cooking
The traditional way to cook corndogs is to deep fry them. Heat the oil to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and use the sticks to dip them into the hot oil. A fun way to do this is to use a metal clamp to firmly attach the sticks to a wooden ruler that can be placed, edge on, across the deep fryer. Cook for around three minutes or until the dogs are golden brown on the outside.
If you are cooking corn dog bites, a handy way to do it is to place them in a French fry basket and suspend them in the hot oil.
Or you can go super traditional about the process and simply drop the uncooked, battered dogs into the pot of oil and let them bob about until they are done. You will want a set of tongs to retrieve the cooked corndogs and they turn brown and bob to the surface.
You can fry corn dogs in a tall-sided frying pan on the stove top.
They won’t come out as nicely rounded as they will in a deep fryer, but they will still brown nicely. Cook for about 1 ½ minutes on one side, then turn and cook 1 ½ minutes on the other side to get the full three minutes of cooking time – or just cook until golden brown and firm. That works, too.
If you wish to avoid frying, you can bake the corndogs. As you batter them, place them on a greased cookie sheet or in a greased corn on the cob pan. The latter is very nice because it will help keep the bottom batter rounded and will focus the heat around the dog. Bake until browned on top. You might want to turn the dogs about half way through cooking.
Serving the Corn Dogs
As the deep-fried dogs are removed from the hot oil, place them on a wire rack that has a paper towel placed over the top of it. This will help remove the excess oil from them.
If baking, remove the dogs from the oven when they are brown, and allow to stand for at least five minutes before serving.
In both cases, it is important to let the stick cool a little, especially if serving the dogs to youngsters. Even after the surface of the breading cools a little, the inside will be very hot.
Place mustard, catsup and ranch dressing in custard dishes or disposable relish papers that will allow the hot dogs to be dipped into the condiments. If you have a large group, the disposable containers are nice because they allow each guest to have his or her own dish for dipping.
Boost the Meal Nutrition
You can boost the nutrition of a meal based around corndogs by adding a fresh salad that features crispy, dark green leafy vegetables and cherry tomatoes. Carrot and celery sticks are also good companion choices.
Serve apples, grapes or some other easy to eat fruit as the desert.
Since the spices in the corndogs can sometimes be troubling to the stomach, serve with ginger ale or ginger tea. In spite of its strong bite, ginger seems to assist digestion and can calm feelings that result from eating fried or spicy foods.
That Leftover Batter
Turn that leftover batter into another carnival favorite food: funnel cakes. The batter is already made, and it is prudent to use it up quickly.
To make it into funnel cakes, you will need a clean plastic funnel. Hold the funnel with one finger over the bottom opening. Fill it about half full of the leftover corncake mixture.
Hold the funnel over a frying pan of hot oil, remove your finger from the opening, and move the funnel in a spiral fashion over the pan. As it moves, the batter is released into the pan, creating interesting shapes.
Let it brown on one side, then turn it over and let it brown on the other side. Remove the funnel cake from the pan, place it on a paper towel, then dust it lightly with powdered sugar.
Other options for the leftover batter includes using it to make pancakes – easier than funnel cakes, and tasting just as good.
Use the leftover batter to help create that yummy, but still nutritious dessert by topping them with applesauce, blueberries or similar things instead of syrup.
Bringing Home the Carnival Fun
Of course, the food isn’t the only thing you love about a carnival. If you are making corndogs as part of a birthday or other entertainment for children, you can use your driveway or back yard to help recreate that carnival spirit.
Set up a circular track for ride upon push vehicles, tricycles, bicycles or similar fun kid vehicles. Create small competitive games such as bean bag tosses or soap bubble blowing.
Add table decorations and small finger snacks, which can include those bite-sized corn dog pieces, to add to the general atmosphere of fun.
If your corn dogs are simply part of a family meal, you can still be creative with a centerpiece, colorful plates or paper napkins. Make it part of celebrating a special milestone in your family’s life or an accomplishment.
If you live alone, that doesn’t mean that you can’t treat yourself to a little fun. Put on some carnival music, get out a good book about carnivals or watch a video that has to do with circuses. Put your feet up, and enjoy your festive goodies with this corn dog recipe pancake mix.