I’m not entirely sure when it began, but The Boy seems to have developed the tradition of bringing me a food-related souvenir whenever he travels without me for any length of time. This started quite early on in our courtship with cookbooks from Costa Rica and New Zealand, as well as a cast-iron cookbook from a trip to Washington DC which I’ve lost and am still upset about not being able to find. There have been chocolates (always dark; he knows!) from Europe and the west coast, the recent gift of cacao beans for Valentine’s day, and of course the well-documented start of The Boy’s Anthro-based surprises for me.
This last trip out west, however, he seemed to have been feeling a bit nostalgic for our trip to Scandinavia. Upon his return, he presented me the comestible portion of his gifts: my favouritest, buttery, orange-scented, chocolate-streaked oat crisp cookie. (There’s even a picture I took of one in the blog post linked above.) I’d like to say I shared these with grace and polite reminiscences, but the truth is that I thanked the Boy, offered him one, and promptly hid them, to be devoured (by me) later.
I regret nothing.
The other thing The Boy brought me back was something equally near to my heart: cast iron. (See also: note about cast-iron cookbook in preamble above.) As a side-note: that’s how much my husband loves me, y’all. Enough to endure the narrow-eyed interrogations of travel security folks by hauling a heavy, oddly-shaped cast-iron item in his luggage. He’s a keeper!
He had expressed a little concern that he’d purchased the wrong one: his was steel grey and about half the price of a similar pan which had been black. I informed him the other one was probably pre-seasoned, but that he chose correctly. After all, I think seasoning fresh pans is kind of fun (what, weird? me? I don’t know what you’re talking about). So needless to say, the pan got larded up and thrown in the oven. Tada, seasoned!
But what is this pan, you might be asking? It’s a poffertjes pan! Well, poffertjes are the Dutch name; this pan advertised itself as an aebelskiver pan — the Danish name. Both refer to a sort of puffy, mini-pancake usually served with powdered sugar. The batter is a lot like waffle batter, though a little less sweet. Now, although The Boy has been to the Netherlands, and both of us have been to Denmark, neither of us really associate these snacks with Europe. There used to be a vendor at our local farmer’s market who made these (presumably of Dutch descent, since they were advertised as poffertjes) and we were pretty big fans of his treats. Sadly, that booth is no longer around, so I was very happy to see that I would now be able to make my own!
Reading the packaging, there were two recipes provided. The first, was this one:
1-3/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1-1/2 tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
Zest of 1/2 lemon
3 egg yolks
1-1/3 cups buttermilk
3/4 cup ricotta cheese
5 egg whites
4 tbsp unsalted butter
7 tbsp jam/preserves
Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, granulated sugar, salt and lemon zest. In another bowl, whisk the egg yolks lightly. In this same bowl whisk in the buttermilk and ricotta. Wisk this egg yolk mixture into the flour mixture until well combined; mixture will be lumpy. Set aside.
Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry peaks form — about 2-3 minutes. Stir the egg whites into the batter in two parts.
Heat pan on medium heat. Put 1/4 tsp. butter into each well. When butter bubbles pour 1 tbsp batter into each well. Place 1/2 tsp of your jam into the center of the batter then top with another tbsp of batter. Cook until the bottoms are golden brown and crisp, about 2-3 minutes. Use 2 skewers to flip the pancakes over and cook an additional 2-3 minutes. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar and server warm.
Yields about 24.
While that does sound delicious, I don’t usually have ricotta on hand. So, I decided to steal the jam-insertion idea, but go with the (decidedly less foofy) second recipe instead. (After all, who can argue with “great grandma’s” recipe??)
Great Grandma’s Danish Aebelskiver:
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups buttermilk
3 eggs separated
apple slices or other fruit for filling (optional)
Sift together flour, salt and baking soda. Add buttermilk and egg yolks. Beat egg whites until light and fluffy, forming soft peaks. Gently fold egg whites into batter.
Heat Aebelskiver pan on medium heat. Grease each cup with a little butter or oil, and fill 2/3 full. Cook for approximately 1 to 1 1/2 minutes (per side) until golden brown, flip using skewers. When both sides are done serve with a sprinkle of confectioner’s sugar. Best served warm.
Optional: Fill each cup only 1/3 full with batter. Place a small amount of fruit in each cup and cover with an additional 1/3 batter.
I added some cardamom, as well as apricot jam, and despite my compulsive inability to follow recipes, they turned out surprisingly well! I learned that I didn’t put quite enough jam in them (although the ones that had enough were really delicious) as well as that having a mix of some jam-filled ones, and some plain ones added to the fun! (Yes, I got lazy with the jam. Shh.) If you’re wondering about the can of syrup on the table, there’s nothing for it: we love maple syrup. There was no way these little puffs were going to escape undrenched.
As delicious as these little cakes were, however, I am ridiculously excited about another application for this pan. After presenting it to me upon his arrival home, The Boy explained that he’d bought it because it made him think of the Hong Kong-style eggy bubble cakes I had been so hopeful of recreating when we bought the waffle iron. I’ve tried that recipe, and while the flavour is spot-on, the waffle iron’s tendency to squish the batter thin instead of letting it puff up into little “eggs” means it doesn’t taste quite right. And I just couldn’t justify buying yet another waffle iron just for making myself little egg treats.
Now, however, now I have a pan built for the purpose of creating luscious, puffy cakelets! Oh, I haven’t tried making the aebelskiver-pan version of my favourite PMall snack, but you can bet that if they’re a success, you guys will hear all about it.
Yay for foodie travel traditions!