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Take a bite of Danish heritage

By Staff | Feb 24, 2017

SWEET AEBLESKIVER may need only a sprinkle of confectioner’s sugar before serving.

As a child, I looked forward to winter mornings when Mom took the special aebleskiver pan from the cupboard. The kitchen soon filled with the delicious aroma of the sweet, round treats that connected me to my ancestors.

The aebleskiver are a tasty tradition in my family, offering a glimpse into our Danish heritage and a delicious way to discover our immigrant roots. As fun to prepare as they are to eat, aebleskiver give cooks a chance to show off their choicest ingredients and let true personalities shine.

While there are no rules dictating how they are prepared or served, the best recipes, a little patience and proper equipment can guarantee fabulous end results.

Aebleskiver, small Danish pancake balls, have been prepared for decades by chefs, bed and breakfast cooks, and many household cooks in the United States. They taste much like a sweetened pancake and are fairly easy to whip up with the proper equipment and a suitable recipe.

The allure of the aebleskiver (pronounced E-ble-skee-ver) is that they are easy to eat, and their somewhat cloudy Scandinavian history gives them a whimsical charm that trumps other breakfast fares. Danes traditionally don’t eat aebleskiver for breakfast; they are usually served for special occasions.

APPLE PRESERVES atop aebleskiver is a delicious treat.

The beauty of aebleskiver, however, is that it is completely up to you how, and when, you want to serve them.

While it is difficult to pinpoint the exact conception of aebleskiver, we accept that they were born in Denmark sometime before the 1600s and remain a traditional delicacy of Danes today. Served in Denmark for many occasions, but most often for the Christmas season, they have become popular in the United States as a delicious treat for most any meal, and an even better dessert.

Aebleskiver are a perfect offering to visitors, as they look fancier than they really are and allow guests to customize their experience with any topping they choose.

Served with a spread of fresh fruits, cheeses and the traditional glogg (a mulled wine drink similar to hot cider), you can embrace Danish tradition in the warmth of your own home.

Preparing aebleskiver

OFTEN CALLED a “monk pan,” the cast-iron contraption contains several round indentations (or wells) for the batter to fry.

Most cooks agree that the aebleskiver pan is the secret to a successful aebleskiver spread.

Often called a “monk pan,” the cast-iron contraption contains several round indentations (or wells) for the batter to fry, and in newer pans, the seven or nine wells are also coated with a special nonstick surface for easier preparation.

The pans can be ordered from many Scandinavian specialty shops, but it is also possible to find them at thrift stores and antique outlets, where they are often mislabeled as “egg pans.” Special care should be taken when using a monk pan on glass-top cooking surfaces, as it is extremely heavy.

Once the batter of your choice has been mixed, it is spooned into the wells of the aebleskiver pan. Some chefs prefer to prepare each divot with a bit of cooking oil prior to adding the dough.

This can prevent sticking on an older pan, and it gives the aebleskiver a bit of extra crispiness that some diners favor.

Keep the heat at medium-high or, for a new pan, check the manufacturer’s directions for recommended temperatures.

After a brief time cooking on one side, usually less than a minute, each aebleskiver will need to be adjusted one quarter turn. Many recipes call for them to be pricked with a fork or bamboo skewer and flipped over, but traditionally, this practice was done with a clean knitting needle or hatpin.

Continue cooking on all four “sides” of the rounded creation, until it is golden brown all over. You may also prefer to insert the hatpin or knitting needle gently into the center of the aebleskiver to check for doneness.

Once the aebleskiver have been evenly cooked, they can be removed from the pan and allowed to cool slightly before serving. Aebleskiver are best served warm, but not so hot that they burn mouths.

Dressing aebleskiver

The beauty of these little “pancake balls” is that they are as versatile as the cook who creates them, offering an opportunity to pair them with most any fruit, cream, sugar or spice.

Traditional recipes from Danish immigrants suggest that apples were the favorite ingredient for households with a limited supply of fresher or more exotic elements (such as lemon zest or the popular cardamom).

In fact, the name aebleskiver literally means “apple slices” in the Danish language, and, in addition to the accepted technique of spooning fresh apples and applesauce onto the dough before they are cooked, they also are often served with fresh fruit strewn over the final product.

These little blank canvases take on nicely the flavor of most any preserve or jelly. Common variations include topping with applesauce, dusting with powdered sugar, dipping in marmalade, or baking the fruit directly into the batter itself.

Honey, maple and white corn syrups can also provide a more “American” experience, giving them a taste similar to today’s waffles or pancakes.


(Buttermilk pancake balls)

3 eggs, separated

2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups buttermilk

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder


Beat egg yolks, and add sugar, salt, buttermilk, and flour mixed with soda and baking powder. Beat egg whites until stiff and add last. Bake in butter or shortening in aebleskiver pan, putting 1 teaspoonful applesauce on top of dough before turning halfway through. Serve with jam.


with yeast)

1 yeast cake or 1 envelope dry active yeast

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups rich milk

2 cups flour

4 eggs

Combine yeast, sugar and salt. Heat milk to lukewarm over low heat, then add to flour.

Add yeast mixture, then eggs one at a time. Mix well and allow dough to rise for about 2 hours before baking in aebleskiver pan, using the following method – fill holes about 3/4 full of batter and bake.

When half baked, turn with sharp fork or clean knitting needle. Serve with jam or jelly.


with cream

4 eggs, separated

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups sweet cream

1 1/4 cups flour

1/4 teaspoon cardamom

Beat egg whites separately. Beat eggs yolks with sugar and salt.

Add cream, flour, cardamom and beaten egg whites. Bake in aebleskiver pan.

Note: Sour cream may be used in place of sweet cream, but 1/2 teaspoon baking soda will need to be added.

Sweetest aebleskiver

2 eggs

2 cups buttermilk

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 tablespoons sugar

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

1/4 cup cinnamon

1/2 cup white granulated sugar

Combine eggs, buttermilk, vanilla, flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda, sugar and butter. Prepare aebleskiver pan with additional melted butter in each well; bake.

When finished cooking, remove aebleskiver, and roll each in mixture of cinnamon and sugar before serving.

Excerpted from GRIT, Celebrating Rural America Since 1882. To read more articles from GRIT, please visit www.Grit.com or call 866-624-9388 to subscribe. Copyright 2009 by Ogden Publications Inc.

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