• 3 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 3 cups buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Recipe from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Ebelskiver. Wasn’t that one of the guys who got eaten by Grendel in Beowulf? So I, not being of Scandinavian heritage, thought when I came across that unfamiliar term while searching for a takoyaki pan online. A quick bit of Googling revealed that ebelskiver was not an ill-fated Nordic warrior, nor an obscure Olympic sport that only Swedes have ever medaled in, but a term for small spherical pancakes served with jam and powdered sugar.

Ebelskiver looked cute, I thought, rather like little toasty planetoids. When I found out you could fill them with Nutella—when I get put in charge of the USDA, I’m declaring Nutella a food group—I was intrigued. And, when I saw I could use them as additional justification for buying a takoyaki pan (“See, it’s not just something we’ll use once a year. We can make ebelskiver in it, too! It’s multi-functional!”), I knew I had to try them.

takoyaki pan for ebelskiver

A takoyaki pan. The indentations are smaller than those in a standard ebelskiver pan, but they still work.

Takoyaki are a Japanese street food. The word takoyaki literally means “octopus balls,” and that’s just what they are: ball-shaped fritters made in a special pan that has 12 hemispherical indentations. To bake them, you pour batter into the indentations, pop a bit of octopus in each one, wait for them to firm up, then flip them with a chopstick so they cook on the other side and form little spheres.

Ebelskiver are a sweet take on the same idea. They taste like a cross between donut holes and piping-hot beignets. Like their Japanese cousins, they’re a textural and tactile delight, their lovely toothsome dough giving way to a molten center. And, as is also the case with takoyaki, once you’ve inhaled one batch, you’re ready for another. Fortunately, they’re quick and easy to make, taking only about five minutes to bake. They’re an ideal immediate-gratification food, perfect for a lazy Sunday morning or a late night snack while watching movies.

ebelskiver

Our homemade ebelskiver.

Legend has it that Vikings invented ebelskiver while cooking pancakes on their dented shields. So maybe that Beowulf guess wasn’t that far off after all.

Five Nerdy Facts About Ebelskiver

  1. The word ebelskiver means “apple slices,” the original ingredient used to fill these fritters.
  2. Ebelskiver is pronounced “ay-blah-skee-wah.” When using this pronunciation, it is customary to attempt the accent of the Swedish Chef.
  3. You can foodie them up. This cookbook has recipes for sticky toffee, salted caramel, fig and prosciutto, and mushroom and pancetta ebelskiver. Savory ebelskiver would make excellent party hors d’oeuvres.
  4. The singular of ebelskiver is ebelskive. If you want to be precise, you can spell ebelskiver with an ash: æbleskiver.
  5. Ebelskiver pans were once sold on TV as “Pancake Puff” pans.