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Rounding the corner from January to February is a bleak reminder that a lot of winter still stretches before us, no matter what that groundhog says. These are days to stay inside, hunker down, and borrow the best parts of Scandinavian life until the sun starts setting at a reasonable time. Step 1: Surround yourself with candles, pull on fuzzy socks, watch some slow television. Step 2: Make Danish pancake puffs, also known as ebelskiver.
Ebelskiver, according to one cook, are “like doughnut holes, but sweeter and much better.” They’re sometimes compared to popovers, but with a thicker, pancake-like texture. Everyone agrees that they’re delicious. They start simply enough, with a batter of flour, eggs, butter, sugar, and buttermilk. But the real secret to making perfect, round ebelskiver is the delightfully specific cast-iron ebelskiver pan.
Specialized Scandanavian cookware has a long and storied history. In the 1940s, a company called Nordic Ware opened in Minneapolis to serve the area’s Scandinavian immigrants. Their original line was limited to the special tools used to make Scandinavia sweets—a krumkake iron to make decorative cookies, a rosette iron to stamp out deep-fried sweets, a platte panne pan to make perfect silver dollar pancakes. They soon expanded the line further. The many-tiered kransekake has a special set of pans, and Swedish almond cake also takes a special shape. In 1950, a customer asked for a pan that could help her recreate a German ring cake, a bundkuchen, and the company’s founder, H. David Dalquist, designed what he later called a Bundt pan to fit her needs.
The company’s original line, though, included an ebelskiver pan, and while Bundt cake is an American classic, it doesn’t provide quite the same element of delight as batter shaped into perfectly spherical puffs. Dip them in jam and you have the perfect winter treat to help you put on some February insulation.
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