Aebelskiver: The Tastiest Breakfast Treat You Can't Pronounce

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Looks like breakfast to me. [Photographs: Liz Gutman]

I recently received a gift card to a schmancy kitchen goods store. After my business partner Jen convinced me that I could get all the boring, utilitarian stuff, I'd had in mind to get—mixing bowls, cooling rack, loaf pan—cheaper elsewhere, I decided to get something on a whim: something completely silly that I didn't need at all. Something Alton Brown would call (shudder) a "unitasker."

I ended up with this.

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For those who don't know, this is an aebelskiver (or ebelskiver) pan. It is made for exactly one thing: cooking aebelskiver.

I was first introduced to the delightful little morsels when I was working at Roni-Sue, a chocolate shop in Essex Street Market in Manhattan. Shopsin's, a few stalls away, had been featured making them on the Food Network, and for weeks the market was filled with hapless fans asking for "you know, those...ab...ebble...they're fritters? But they have banana in the middle?...Do you know what I'm talking about?" We did indeed.

So what are they, exactly? Well, they're sort of a pancake. But they're filled so they're sort of a, er, filled pancake. But the batter itself is light and savory, so they're sort of like popovers. But they're round and buttery, so they're sort of like donuts.

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At any rate, in the Hebridean weather with which we were assaulted today, I decided to tackle aebelskiver. It seemed like the perfect antidote to the cold and wet that decided to pick Monday (of all days!) to rear its wintry head. I was a bit intimidated, since all the recipes I found had a little asterisk-y statement like "once you get used to it" and "after a few batches." How was I going to write a post about these if they turned out all burned and misshapen?

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I'm here to tell you that it's super easy. Really.

I was going to show you this step-by-step process, but you won't even need that. If you can whip egg whites, you can make these. The trickiest part, really, is flipping them over while they're cooking. I used a knitting needle, which is apparently what's traditionally used (and who am I to mess with tradition?), but you can use a wooden skewer, a fork, a knife—whatever.

The most useful way to see if they're ready to flip is to run the utensil around the edge of the indentation—if the pancake starts sliding around, it's ready to be turned. It helps to use lots of butter, too. (It almost always helps to use lots of butter.)

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The best part about these? You can put whatever you want inside. They're traditionally filled with an apple (aebel) slice. I used 62% chocolate. But once I'd eaten one (OK, three), my mind started whirring with possibilities: bananas foster! Peanut butter and jelly! Ham and cheese! SCRAMBLED EGGS!

...Well, you get the idea. The sky is pretty much the limit. Of course, if you aren't into getting an aebelskiver pan, that's totally cool. Just cook up some pancakes and put whatever you want in 'em. But I'm definitely keeping these little guys in my impress-the-guests brunch arsenal.

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