I recently appeared on one of our local radio talk shows “Beyond Empowerment”. It is hosted by one of my favorite people on our little Rock, Charlene Springer. We talked for a full half hour about food, and the love of crafting foods, and the importance of it for our island’s economic growth.
Right at the end of the program, she whispered faintly a word that in all my culinary curiosities I never heard uttered. I didn’t understand what she said, so I asked her to repeat it. But before she did, she closed her eyes, smiled a brilliant flash of white contentment, and breathed the word out once more, “Aebleskivers“. From that reaction alone, my spirit understood, that I didn’t know what it was, but I wanted to!!
A few weeks later, Charlene and her husband took us for brunch as promised to taste these sigh-worthy treats. She ordered not one but two rounds of Aebleskivers to start brunch. When they arrived at the table, they looked like little, round, sugar-powdered, pancake puffs with blueberry compote piled high in the center. It was love at first bite! I not-so-shamefully snagged the last puff, and asked Charlene for the sake of our friendship, how did she fail to introduce me to Aebleskivers sooner!
It turns out that Aebleskivers are a traditional Danish pancake that is served usually around Christmas time. After I tasted it, it seemed it went from the background of my mind straight to the forefront. I was bumping into Aebelskivers all the time. Whether in cooking catalogs or when I visited the Lawaetz Museum. That was a sign. The hunt for Aebelskivers was on!
I thought about what I wanted to create. I wanted them to be light, not too sweet, tender in the inside and moist. The answer yeast, and patience! A few tries later, and a recipe was created that felt share-worthy.
You will definitely need an Aebleskivers pan to make these golden drops of pancake heaven. But with a little practice you will understand why Charlene reacted so viscerally to the calling of that name. And you will understand why I have changed its name to Evil-Skivers! They are so addictive!
For this post, I paired this treat with an organic blueberry compote and real maple syrup, but I may update this recipe later with a tropical mango compote.
1 Cup or 155 grams of unbleached all purpose Flour
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1 Teaspoon Active Dry Yeast
1 Tablespoon (organic evaporated cane) sugar
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
2 Eggs (separated)
3 Tablespoons melted and cooled Butter
1 Tablespoon Sour Cream
1 Cup Lukewarm Coconut milk (no hotter than 110 degrees) (see: Coconut Milk)
1/2 Teaspoon Almond Extract
Zest of half a Lemon
1 Small pinch of ground Cardamom
1/8 Teaspoon of Cinnamon
1 Tablespoon Good Vanilla
1/4 Teaspoon ground Nutmeg
Weigh the flour using the Dip and Sweep Method (See: Dip and Sweep Method) or with an actual kitchen scale, which is even better and more accurate.
In a bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, and yeast.
Important Step: warm the coconut milk no more than 110 degrees. It can be lower, but definitely not hotter. The heat will kill the yeast, and the Aebleskivers will not rise properly.
Mix the warmed coconut milk with the melted and cooled butter, sour cream, and egg yolks. Add the salt, and the flavorings — lemon zest, almond extract, vanilla extract, cardamom, nutmeg, and cinnamon, and set aside.
Mix the dry and wet ingredients together ONLY until incorporated. Be sure not to over-mix the batter. There may be some lumps but they will cook out. If you over-mix the batter, then it will activate the gluten in the flour and the pancakes will be tough. No more than five to ten strokes maximum. Set this mixture aside for about a half an hour to an hour in a warm, draft-free spot in order to allow the yeast to begin its work!
After the yeast has started to activate in the mixture, in yet another separate bowl place the room temperature egg whites in a well cleaned bowl. Beat the whites until stiff peaks form, but NOT until they become dry. The test is to whip the eggs until you think the whites are to your desired stiffness. Lift the beaters and if the peaks hold their shape for about two seconds, then you have stiff but not dried peaks.
Preheat the Aebleskivers pan on medium high.
Fold in one third of the egg whites into the mixture to lighten the batter. Then add the baking powder. Then slowly but quickly fold in the remaining whites. This will ensure that the air in the whites are preserved, giving you not one (yeast), not two (baking powder), but three (egg whites) separate leaveners for these Evil-skivers!
Oil the pan liberally with canola oil, even around the outer edges, then fill the wells with the batter until it is just under the rim. Start in the center of the pan, and fill it clockwise. This will help you to remember the order to turn them as they cook.
You will need a pair of skewers, or chopsticks. Traditionally, the Danes used knitting pins to turn the pancakes over. I don’t advocate you use these. Skewers or wooden chopsticks will do a perfect job.
I do a half turn on the Aebleskivers, resting them on the sides of the inner pan to ensure that they are in full contact with the heat. It takes some trying and getting used to, but pretty soon you will be an Aebleskiver-Turning-Master!
Preheat your oven to about 200 degrees. If there are no friends or family around to grab each batch as they come hot off the stove, then you can keep them warm this way until you are ready to serve. Pair this with some blueberry compote and real maple syrup, and a cup of Cruzan Cocoa Tea or a warm Cafe Con Leche.
Feel free to find your way to the island to marry this taste explosion with the appropriate sea view and some salt-scented air.
Blueberry Compote Ingredients:
2 Cups Frozen Organic Blueberries
1/2 Lemon (juiced)
1/4 Cup Water
Corn Starch Slurry (1 Tablespoon Cornstarch mixed with Two Tablespoons water until dissolved and smooth)
1 Teaspoon Vanilla or 1/2 a vanilla bean
It is difficult at times to find organic blueberries on the island. The frozen kind at times are more available. Feel free to substitute the fresh berries, if you have them on hand.
Place the blueberries in a sauce pan. Add the sugar, water, lemon juice, and vanilla bean (if using vanilla extract add it at the end as the boiling may make it turn slightly bitter). Bring to a simmer, then add the Corn Starch Slurry. Stir for some time until the mixture is properly thickened. You may need to add a bit more slurry to achieve the proper thickening.