When Skillet Diner announced its newest outlet in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle, I had a hunch they'd make a nod toward the Scandinavian heritage of the community. Swedish meatballs, herring, and even lutefisk came to mind, but the release of the menu revealed something sweet instead: Ebelskivers ($7).
And why not? After all, so many other restaurants are serving up beignets and churros and other forms of sweet breakfast dough. (Dare I mention cronuts?). Ebelskivers are of Danish descent and are similar to a pancake crossed with a popover—puffy in appearance and sometimes filled with jam.
The wife of Skillet chef Jon Severson is Danish, so she was partly his source of inspiration for the dish. And as the pan he uses is a cast-iron Lodge ebelskiver skillet, he thought ebelskivers were perfect for the restaurant. When an order comes in, he heats butter in each well of the pan until bubbling, adds batter, then carefully turns the balls with a skewer or thick toothpick after two minutes or so, continuing to turn them to ensure even cooking.
Skillet doesn't serve filled ebelskivers, but instead sets the seven balls on a bed of lingonberry jam, topping them with powdered sugar. It's a snowy scene worth admiring, but not for long, as ebelskivers are best eaten warm. Skillet's are a little softer and more custardy than the ones I make at home. No complaint there. The batter melts in the mouth, the sugar and jam adding just the right amount of fruity sweetness. At home, I like to eat them with homemade lemon curd for a pancake that makes me pucker. If you're looking for a savory twist, Skillet's popular bacon jam is available for the asking.
About the author: Jay Friedman is a Seattle-based freelance food writer who happens to travel extensively as a sex educator. An avid fan of noodles (some call him "The Mein Man"), he sees sensuality in all foods, and blogs about it at his Gastrolust website. You can follow him on Twitter @jayfriedman.