Enjoy a 21st-century version of a traditional Danish æbleskiver dinner hosted by Museum of Danish America board member David Hendee and his wife, Polly, at their new home in Northfield, Minnesota.
Æbleskiver, to the uninitiated, are spherically shaped Danish snacks. The name literally means “apple slices” in Danish, although apples are not usually an ingredient in today’s æbleskiver. The meal likely will include a fruit salad and medisterpølse (pork sausage), or similar. There will be butter, powdered sugar, jellies, applesauce and maple syrup for the light as a feather æbleskiver. Aquavit could be on the table.
Former Solvang (California) Restaurant owner Arne Hansen provided this tall tale of the origin of æbleskiver in the Santa Ynez Valley Visitors Magazine in 1977: “Æbleskiver! Thank heavens you don’t have to pronounce it to eat it. What is it? … They are like a waffle or a pancake formed like a tennis ball. You can find them served several ways….The most common way is with powdered sugar sprinkled over them and then topped with raspberry jelly. Sometimes people have ventured to ask me how æbleskiver were invented…. One theory was Karl Jorgensen’s … from many years ago. It went something like this: ‘Back in the good old days, when the Vikings were roaming up and down the coasts of Europe and the waters of the Atlantic, one band of these Vikings had been particularly hart hit in battle, so when they got back on their ship with their horn helmets and shields all dented and banged up, they decided to have one of their favorite dishes to help them regain their strength — pancakes! In those days they did not have conveniences such as frying pans, so they greased their shields and poured the pancake batter on them over the fire, but guess what?’” Yes, the dented shields produced pancakes in the shape of balls.
The Hendees lived in Omaha, Nebraska, for more than four decades before retiring to Minnesota last year to establish a Danish outpost in Norwegian-dominated Northfield. They traditionally prepare the æbleskiver dinner (in cast-iron æbleskiver pans, not dented Viking shields) for their family’s Christmas Eve meal, but æbleskiver can be enjoyed at any time of day in any season. This dinner will be prepared at a time and date mutually agreed upon by the hosts and the winning bidder.