(...Or Puffed Pancake balls, if you prefer)
As the annual Christmas trip to Denmark draws nigh, the anticipation of treats consumed far too infrequently (in my opinion) grows both in our minds and in our bellies.
From the Swedish Christmas ham, which is unmatched by any other (and rationed out with such obnoxious yet hilarious stringency by my grandmother), to the special 'snaps' my uncle infuses with herbs and magic, particularly for this occasion, the edible traditions of Christmas surpass any the rest of the year has to offer...by a Danish country mile!
Though it's hard to pick a favorite, I must say I'm quite partial to the combination of æbleskiver and gløgg (or, if you're having a hard time wrapping your tongue around that - puffed pancake balls and mulled wine.)
Now, we rarely make either of these at home - there's simply too much going on in the little galley we call a kitchen. Between the 16lb turkey making its way into an oven designed for Danes who typically don't eat 16lb turkeys, and my grandmother cooking her 'risengrød' (a rendition of rice pudding consumed with cinnamon sugar and butter as an illogical first course on Christmas eve) with her face practically in the pot, we're decidedly aware of our limitations.
So, despite the sub-zero temperatures and the complete absense of light after 3pm, we head into town to our favorite little café, for some warming, spiced wine and powdered-sugar-dusted balls of dough served with jam. The gløgg does wonders for the cold that seems to find its way through countless layers straight into your bones, and the æbleskiver turn what could be oppressive darkness, into a sweet, cozy, candle-lit experience worth savoring. They also make handling the inevitable moments of chaos that only the Holidays can bring, just that much easier. Like the time the suitcase containing the aforementioned turkey (yes, we actually transport a frozen turkey from the States to Denmark, every single year) was lost by the airlines, and arrived Christmas eve, fully thawed and inedible. More gløgg and egg nog, please! (As a side note, the look on Granny's face, when she thought we'd be tucking into the ham outside of its scheduled mealtime, was absolutely priceless. Tradition is traditon, after all!)
So, if the Holidays find you with your own rendtion of the 'our-turkey-went-to-Germany-instead-of-Denmark' story, or the 'our-grandmother-won't-relinquish-control-of-the-proceedings-despite-being-94,' saga, you may want to whip up a batch of these with your favorite Holiday tipple.
Don't worry, you don't have to pronounce them, you just have to enjoy them!
In a medium sized bowl, combine the dry ingredients until fully incorporated.
In a large bowl, combine the egg yolks, vanilla, buttermilk and lemon zest, and mix well.
In a third bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form, but not to the point where they become dry.
Fold the dry ingredients into the egg yolk mixture, until a smooth batter forms, but do not over mix, then, gently, fold in the egg whites until fully incorporated.
Heat the pan over medium heat on the stove and add a little knob of butter to each indentation.
Fill the indentations 2/3 of-the-way full, and cook, as you would a pancake, until you begin to see little bubbles bursting on the top - about 2 minues. Then, using a fork, gently push the 'pancake' so it flips, and cook the other side for about a minute, or until golden.
Serve these æbleskiver warm, dusted with powdered sugar, alongside a dollop of your favorite jam for dipping.
Now if that's not enough to make you forget (or at least manage) the chaos of Christmas, have another gløgg, and you should be alright.