These Danish treats are aebleskivers (or aebelskivers or ebleskivers or ebelskivers). Their pronunciation is equally elusive. Some say “able-skeever” while the Danish pronunciation is more “able-skewer” with a lilt I can’t nail down. Literally translated, the word means “apple slices” since the traditional form has a piece of apple cooked into the middle. But what are they? No matter how you say or spell it, these are round, often filled, pancakes made in a special skillet that looks like an egg poacher. Only an egg poacher won’t work. You need an actual aebleskiver pan — although legend has it the Vikings cooked the first version on their stone-pitted shields over an open campfire. (No stickler for historical accuracy, I recommend a stove and a modern pan.)
The resulting “puff” is a popover-pancakey delight. Wanting to give you an idea of scale, I walked about the house with one in my hand, looking for something of a comparable size. Walnut? Too small. Tennis ball? Too big. Andrew, being his usual helpful self, suggested it was just about the size of an orangutan’s testicle. Right or left, Wiseguy? Being ignorant about primate privates, I’ve decided to describe it as “about the size of a small clementine.”
I know I should tell you all about the cooking method, how to heat the aebleskiver pan, how to turn the batter to give it the distinctive shape. I know I should discuss the cultural variations and alternative uses for this uniquely shaped pan. And believe me when I say, no one, no one (okay, maybe The Yarn Harlot) is more thrilled to find a new use for a knitting needle that doesn’t involve gauge.
But I just wanted to get cooking. My cousin sent me King Arthur ginger mini chips all the way from Vermont. And my brand spanking new Lodge aebleskiver pan had just arrived and was begging for attention. So I dived right in.
Forgive me. There will be time for the details later. In the meantime, have an aebleskiver. Take two. They’re small.
- 1¼ cup all-purpose flour
- ¾ teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ⅓ cup finely chopped candied ginger
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
- 2 large eggs, separated
- 1 cup milk, room temperature
- 2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- ¼ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- vegetable oil (canola or grapeseed work well)
- icing sugar, for dusting
- chocolate sauce
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and candied ginger until well combined.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, orange zest, yolks, milk, melted butter, and vanilla until well blended. Make sure the milk is room temperature or it will chill the melted butter into unsightly lumps. Twenty seconds in the microwave usually does the trick.
- Pour the yolk mixture into the flour mixture and stir until just blended. The batter will appear slightly lumpy - but in a good way.
- Using a stand mixer fitted with a whisk or an electric hand mixer and a medium bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Gently fold one-third of the egg whites into the batter until combined. Then fold in the remaining egg whites, being careful not to deflate them.
- Place your aebleskiver pan over medium to medium-low heat and brush each well with oil. When the oil begins to sizzle fill each well with 1 tablespoon of batter (see notes for details). Place 3 or 4 chocolate chips in the centre of each aebleskiver, then top with another tablespoon of batter. Cook until the bottoms turn golden brown, about 2 to 4 minutes, then turn them. Using two skewers, flip them over and cook another 2-3 minutes until evenly golden. This produces a slightly elliptical aebleskiver. Alternatively, you can produce perfectly round aebleskivers by giving the puff a quarter turn and cooking it in 3 or 4 partial rotations.
- The aebleskivers are done when they are golden all over and a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out with only a few crumbs attached. Remove the puffs from the pan, wipe the wells with paper towel to remove crumbs, brush the wells with more oil and repeat with the remaining batter. This recipe should make 3 pans of aebleskivers.
- Eat the aebleskivers warm either sprinkled with icing sugar or drizzled with chocolate sauce. If you are making lots, you can keep the aebleskivers warm by placing them an oven preheated to 200°F and covered loosely with foil.
If your pan is cast-aluminum, use wooden skewers to turn the aebleskivers to avoid scratching the pan. If your pan is cast-iron, you can use a metal knitting needle. It actually works better and is the traditional aebleskiver-turning utensil.
This recipe is adapted from 150 Best Ebelskiver Recipes by Camilla V. Saulsbury. Published by Robert Rose ©2013.