With a rich moist interior and a delicately crisp exterior, Aebleskivers, Danish Pancake Balls, are a special breakfast treat or snack. Many people say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But I think it can also be the most fun.
Especially with special treats like Aeblesksivers or Danish Pancake Balls—a fun recipe I learned to make from my Danish grandmother!
Grandma immigrated here in 1928. After her husband got established, she followed, traveling through Ellis Island with their three small children. She spoke no English, and never saw her parents again. I give her a ton of credit for the courage that must have taken.
And a ton of thanks for teaching me to make some special treats!
What are Aebleskivers?
Per Wikipedia, Aebleskivers, “are Danish snacks that are spherical in shape. The name literally means “apple slices” in Danish, although apples are not usually an ingredient in present-day versions.”
The recipe is similar to a buttermilk pancake, except the egg white is beaten and folded in separately. Then of course, they are cooked into balls using a special pan. But where pancakes (before syrup) can verge on mealy or bland, Aebleskivers are rich and moist inside and lightly crisp outside. Yum!
Why You’ll Love This!
Aebleskivers are a taste delight with a rich creamy interior and a delicately crisp exterior. While I am not a pancake lover (the only way I’ll eat a buttermilk pancake is to load it up with blueberries), I’d eat these any day.
Add the fact that they are fun and unique and you have a dish that’s truly special. It was the final crescendo on every slumber party my kids had growing up. Not to mention a few adult events!
Finally, as pancakes go, these are pretty low in sugar. There’s only a teaspoon in the base recipe (that feeds 3-4 people) and I’m very confident that the sugar (or jam) I use for dipping comes to way less than my usual big pour of maple syrup!
What You’ll Need
- Egg, separated
- Melted butter
- Baking soda, powder
- Solid oil. Like Crisco for pan
- Aebleskiver Pan
- Metal knitting needle or fondue fork or similar object for turning
Step by Step Directions
Mix egg yolk, buttermilk and butter. Mix dry ingredients and add to buttermilk mixture.
Beat egg white until stiff, then carefully fold into batter, taking care to retain volume.
As soon as they get bubbly around the edge and golden underneath, turn them so the cooked half-sphere is on top (Danish cooks traditionally used a long knitting needle, but a fondue fork works very well also).
The Aebleskiver Pan
In our family everyone is gifted an aebleskiver pan by the time they are old enough to cook. And lucky me, I inherited my grandmother’s pan–so I have two!
Back in the day, all the pans were cast iron and needed to be seasoned. I think my mother spent her whole life worrying she’d damage the seasoning on her mother’s pan (which I think is why she was so happy when I took over making them)! Happily, today’s cast iron pans come pre-seasoned, so they are durable and ready to go right out of the box!
There are also aluminum pans with nonstick coatings but I strongly suggest that you go with cast iron. The nonstick coatings are still environmentally sketchy but more importantly cast iron is a master at achieving a delicately crisp exterior—one of the delights of a good Aebleskiver!
Cast iron pans come in two main styles. One has an extra ring of cast iron around the outside and the other doesn’t. My grandmother’s (below) came without it while my newer pan (in most other pictures) has it. I don’t notice much cooking difference between the two.
Of course there is one more advantage to going with cast iron. Someday you can pass it along to a grandchild too!
How to Serve and Eat
When my kids were slumber party age, Aeblskivers were on the menu for every event. Christmas is another traditional time.
With our main celebration (and giant meal) on Christmas Eve, the lighter but still festive aebleskivers are perfect for Christmas day. In fact, one year when the tired grownups decided to do nothing at all, my young niece took over, arranged the get together and cooked!
Gotta love tradition!
How we eat them
I have always torn them in half, then dipped the soft inside into sugar or jam (it adheres best to the inside). The kids seemed to gravitate toward sugar and the adults to jam—but I still like sugar best! Does that make me a kid at heart?
Online, I see variations like making them chocolate or filling them with jam or pieces of fruit. But truly, none of this was part of our family tradition and unless I ate them every day, I’d never get tired of the basic recipe!
In Case of Leftovers
Leftovers are not going to be as glorious as right out of the pan, so this is NOT a dish you want to make in bulk to eat later. But since there are often a few left, I leave them out in the serving bowl and they usually disappear by bedtime. If not, they go into the refrigerator, covered, and are eaten the next day.
My husband did something unusual with the leftovers the other day—he broke them in half topped with butter and microwaved them. Well I’m always happy to see leftovers eaten, even in strange and creative ways!
Tips & FAQs
How do I turn them (and with what)?
When the aebleskivers are golden on one side, they need to be turned to create the ball shape. My grandmother taught me to use a metal knitting needle to do this (and even tried to teach me to knit). Since the knitting didn’t stick, today I use a fondue fork. You can use anything pointed that has a little strength since occasionally you need to gently unstick before turning.
Unlike many online demos, I was taught to flip the Aebleskiver completely over when it was browned on the first side, then tuck in the edges as needed.
What is the best oil to use?
Grandma used Crisco and as I got older I decided I needed to try a healthier liquid oil. This was a failure—not a total “toss it in the garbage” failure, but a real miss on the beautiful exterior. I never went there again.
I still use Crisco sometimes today but the one fully natural fat I also use is the very pure lard from my annual pastured half pig. Butter tends to burn but if you have another favorite oil that is solid at room temperature, can take high heat and has almost no flavor, it would also be a candidate.
How do I get them perfectly round?
Getting them perfectly round involves filling the well completely full. This is kind of an art because the filling immediately begins to rise and may start to overflow. I just “tuck in” any extra when I turn them.
But, truthfully, I don’t think the perfect ones taste quite as good. They are a little “doughier” and you get a slightly lower ratio of light exterior crunch.
Why aren’t they hollow?
The Aebleskiver batter rises when it’s heated due to the baking powder and soda (and to a lesser extent the beaten egg white). You’ll begin to see this happen when you fill the wells of the pan and the batter puffs up. It continues to rise and fill the cavity when you turn the aebleskiver.
Can you use white whole wheat flour?
In part two of “can I make these healthier without hurting the flavor”, I tried some white whole wheat flour—don’t remember if it was all or half. Well my kids are pretty used to my crunchy granola cooking and the substitution went fine.
But another time my brother told me his daughters wanted to make them instead of me. “How nice,” I said, after which he confessed they liked their own better, since they used all purpose flour. So after that, I went back to all purpose flour myself.
So the short answer is “maybe.” If you’re eating these just for special occasions, I’d recommend using all purpose flour. But if you decide to put them into weekly rotation, give the healthier version a try and see how it goes for you.
Wednesday #BrunchWeek Recipes
- Pink Pineapple Vodka Cocktail from Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks
- Tipsy Iced Coffee from Jolene’s Recipe Journal
Appetizers and Salads
- Labneh Launji Crostini from Magical Ingredients
- Roasted Tomato Caprese from A Day in the Life on the Farm
- Spicy Melon Pineapple Fruit Salad from That Recipe
Breads, Grains, and Cereals
- Aebleskivers: Danish Pancake Balls from Art of Natural Living
- Easy GF Banana Bread from Frugal & Fit
- Peaches and Cream Pancakes from Palatable Pastime
- Pecan Baked Oatmeal from A Little Fish in the Kitchen
- Tart Cherry Crumb Muffins from Cheese Curd In Paradise
- Eggs Benedict Waffle Fries from Cindy’s Recipes and Writings
- Hearty Brunch Bagel Sandwich from Jen Around the World
- Individual Breakfast Pizza from A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures
- Sausage Hashbrown Breakfast Casserole from Kathryn’s Kitchen Blog
Aebleskivers, Danish Pancake Balls
- 1 egg separated
- 1 1/3 cup buttermilk
- 2 Tablespoons butter melted
- 1 ¼ c flour
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 7 Tablespoons lard or Crisco, approximate
- Mix egg yolk, buttermilk and butter. Mix dry ingredients and add to buttermilk mixture.
Beat egg white until stiff, then carefully fold into batter, taking care to retain volume.
Put about 1/2 tablespoon of a solid oil, such as Crisco, in the bottom of each aebleskiver pan cup and heat until hot.
- Fill each cup level with batter. As soon as they get bubbly around the edge and golden underneath, turn them so the cooked half-sphere is on top (Danish cooks traditionally used a long knitting needle, but a fondue fork works very well also).
- Continue cooking until cooked through, adjusting the heat and turning the ball to keep it from burning.
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