Thursday, April 21, 2011

Birthday Dumplings with a Figgy Surprise

All of a sudden it seems that everyone is abuzz about aebleskiver. My first reaction was "What?". But when I was treated to some of these Danish pancake spheres prepared with expert aplomb by a friend in Salt Lake City, I understood the appeal. I'm a big fan of pancakes all all shapes and sizes, and these balls of buttery, eggy fluffiness are mouthwatering when served hot from the pan. So I asked for an aebleskiver pan for my birthday (or rather I snatched one up in the hardware store when we were out buying gardening supplies and shoved it into my husband's hand before dashing off to prevent my three year old from toppling over a large display of assorted nails).

Back home, I seasoned the pan, and then watched some Youtube videos on making aebleskiver. My first reaction was "You've got to be kidding!" The implement used is a skewer! Somehow you are supposed to take a pool of liquid batter, poke at it with a thin stick, and magically produce a spherical popover. 

I prepared the batter, which is fluffy from whipped egg whites and tangy from buttermilk. For the first batch I tried, I put in dollops of jam. 

After a few moments of cooking, you are supposed to coax the nascent aebleskivers sideways,

and then poke and prod them around until they become spherical. It turns out that there are many ways to produce non-spherical aebleskiver, such as flat discs or basket-shaped structures with cavernous gaping holes. Luckily, they all taste good. 

Emboldened by this first attempt, and with remaining batter, I was inspired to create a dessert aebleskiver of a stuffed dumpling stuffed with a stuffed fig. A dumpling turdunken. To soften the figs, I simmered them in a little red wine.

Meanwhile, I toasted some hazelnuts in a dry skillet, and chilled some chocolate chips. Then I pulsed these in a food processor to make a coarse meal.

To stuff the figs, I made a slit down the side, pressed down the flesh and spooned in the chocolate and hazelnut mixture. Then I prepared some aebleskiver. It turned out that having a solid base in the middle made the turning process much easier and produced aebleskiver whose volume more closely approximated the cube of their radius times pi. They were also delicious.

As a last minute inspiration, I mixed up the reduced fig-flavored wine with a little creme fraiche, which made a lovely accompaniment for the fig filled aebelskiver. As a pleasant post birthday surprise, this recipe was picked as an editors' choice on the food52 website.

Aebleskiver filled with chocolate and hazelnut stuffed figs

  • 14 dried figs, such as black mission
  • 1/2 cup fruity red wine, such as a Zinfandel
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • egg yoke
  • egg white
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter for the batter, plus more for the pan
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 cup hazelnuts
  • 1/8 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup creme fraiche
  • powdered sugar
  1. 1. Snip the stems from the figs and, in a small sauce pan, simmer them in the red red wine, turning occasionally, for about ten minutes, until much of the wine reduces and is absorbed by the figs. Remove from the heat and leave the softened figs in the wine until ready to use.
  2. 2. Prepare the fig stuffing. Chill the chocolate chips in the freezer so that they won't melt when chopped. Lightly toast the hazelnuts in a dry skillet, then allow to cool. Chop the chocolate chips and hazel nuts in a small electric chopper or food processor until they form a coarse meal.
  3. 3. Stuff the softened figs by cutting a slit down the length, then using your fingers to press in the fig flesh to make a cavity, and filling this with a small spoonful of the minced hazelnut and chocolate mixture. Set aside. Reserve the remaining fig-flavored red wine for creme fraiche topping.
  4. Prepare the batter by combining the dry ingredients in one bowl and whisking together the buttermilk, egg yoke and melted butter in another bowl. Beat the egg white until stiff. Combine the dry ingredients into the wet. The batter should be runny like a thickish pancake batter. Add a little more buttermilk if necessary to achieve the right consistency. Then fold in the egg white.
  5. Heat an aebleskiver pan and butter well. Fill each of the cavities to about 1/2 the height with batter. Then place a stuffed fig into each well and top with a little more batter to cover the fig and fill the well. Cook for about a minute. With a skewer tip the dumpling to one side so that the cooked half dome is perpendicular to the pan and cook for another minute. Now catch each dumpling on the corner between the first half dome and the second half dome and rotate this to the top, so that the least cooked face of the dumpling points downwards. Keep rotating the dumplings for a few more minutes until they are golden brown on all sides and cooked through.
  6. Prepare a topping to serve with the dumplings by mixing in a few tablespoons of the reduced figgy red wine with creme fraiche to taste. Serve the dumplings warm with a dollop of the flavored creme fraiche, and if you like, a sprinkle of powdered sugar. 


Anna said...

This sounds SO delicious! Have you considered other fillings? Nutella? With a hazelnut in the middle? The list could go on . . .

Karen said...

we should experiment some time for a belated birthday celebration.

Anonymous said...

Your Ebelskiver (A?) sound delicious, but my pan has much smaller round indentations, and so it is easier to turn them.Not having figs I will stick with choc chips and jam for by Easter brunch doantion. Nancy

Renee said...

OMG! You have an abelskiver pan?! Mind if I move in so I can have them everyday?? Just kidding. Fantastic purchase and happy happy birthday!!