Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Kick Off the Holiday Season with Danish Æbleskiver!

See those wonderful balls of dough? You may not believe it, but they were 10 years in the making. Ten long years of disappointments and unfulfilled cravings, but now I've got it down and I'm going to share with you!

Æbleskiver are little fried balls of batter that are a cross between a donut hole and a pancake. In Denmark, they are eaten at holiday gatherings and cosy get-togethers with friends. (You'll usually find a nice warm cup of gløgg nearby as well.) No one really eats them outside the month of December, just like Americans wouldn't drink eggnog at any other time except the holidays.

Many Danes buy frozen æbleskiver and reheat them in the oven. Absolutely no shame in that. It would take too long to make them from scratch if you're trying to serve a crowd. Besides, the frozen ones are quite good. Nonetheless, I'm a DIYer to the core and wanted to try making them from scratch. Hubby bought me the special pan to make them, but the results were never as good as the frozen ones, so I just packed the pan away and horded the frozen ones while they were available. After we moved back to the States, I would pull the pan out every once in a while to try a new recipe, but again, the results were never really right.

Thank goodness Hubby convinced me not to donate the pan to Goodwill. My mother-in-law was recently in town and she showed me how to make the most perfect æbleskiver. (BTW, she normally buys the frozen ones.) Success is more than just having a good recipe. In fact, the recipe we used is basically the same one I use for buttermilk pancakes, with a couple modifications. It's all in the technique, which, now that I've got the hang of it, is easy.

To make æbleskiver, you're going to need to get yourself an æbleskiver pan. They can be made from cast iron or cast aluminum. They even have electric ones. Doesn't really matter what it's made of as long as it can heat evenly and to a high temperature. If you don't have luck finding one locally, order it online through Amazon. They have a variety to choose from.

Danish Æbleskiver
Makes about 15 æbleskiver
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 to 2 tbs sugar (depending on how sweet you'd like them)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom (can be replaced with vanilla)
  • 1 egg, white and yolk separated
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tbs melted butter or neutral oil
  • 1 to 2 tbs lemon juice
In a medium non-reactive metal or glass bowl, whip the egg whites until they hold stiff peaks. (The egg yolk is to be combined with the wet ingredients) Set aside.

At this point, you should start to pre-heat your pan over low-medium heat. You'll need to turn up the heat to medium-high just before you start to cook the aebleskiver.

In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients and stir to mix. In a separate bowl, combine the wet ingredients and mix well. Add the wet ingredients to dry and mix until combined. Don't overbeat. Lastly, gently fold in the whipped egg whites.

Turn up the heat on your pan and let it warm up for another 3 to 5 minutes. Put about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon oil in each well. This might seem excessive, but it is necessary for two reasons. You don't want the batter to stick. More importantly, to get a nice crispy crust yet spongy middle, you need to have enough oil to fry the batter. Allow the batter a minute or so to form a nice crust before attempting to turn. The best instrument to use is a wooden knitting needle, but a skewer or fork will be fine. The trick is to rim the well to detach the batter before turning. You know you're doing fine if the half-cooked ball slides in the well easily. Quickly flip the æbleskiver to cook the other side. Once the other side sets, turn the ball a little to cook the sides. Hopefully you'll make a nice sphere. Don't get discouraged if they're misshaped. You'll get the hang of it with practice. Keep the cooked æbleskiver warm while you fry the rest of the batter.

Serve warm, sprinkled with confectioners sugar and a side of strawberry jam. Maple syrup is also nice, as is lemon curd. A nice warm cup of gløgg is also advisable.

If you have leftover æbleskiver, they can be refridgerated or frozen and reheated in a 350F oven until warmed through. (Quite handy if you want to make them in advance.)


Cdra said...

Thanks for the recipe. I would eventually try to make on my own but I'm hosting a brunch that I would like to serve it at. Do you know where I may be able to find them frozen? Trader Joes does not carry them anymore. :( I'm in San Diego, Calif.

dp said...

Unfortunately I haven't seen them in the States. It's a shame they haven't caught on.