It’s that time of year again, and like all good traditions that bear repeating, I will share my recipes for gløgg and aæbleskivers with you. This year I will experience these Danish Christmas delights first hand – I leave today for Copenhagen and one week of touring, writing and eating my way around this beautiful city and its environs, while I indulge my love for all things Nordic and my desire to share the magic of Christmas in Denmark with all of you.
You might think that Denmark is cold and dark at this time of year (it is!) but it’s also the coziest and most festive place to be during the holiday season with Christmas markets, Tivoli Gardens, and gleaming shopping streets lined with flagship stores displaying impeccable Danish design and half-timbered boutiques glowing in the dusky light. Open fires line the pedestrian walkways, warming hands and roasting chestnuts, while street carts and storefronts dole out steaming cups of gløgg and sugared æbleskivers to keep the energy up and spirits warm. You can be sure I’ll be drinking all of this in, and while I do that, I’ll share these recipes with you, so you, too, can join in the Scandinavian holiday spirit.
Referred to as pancakes, dumplings or even doughnut holes in English, Danish æbleskivers are served as a treat throughout the month of December. While you can buy aebleskivers pre-frozen in the shops, nothing beats the vanilla and cardamom scent and tender texture of homemade æbleskivers. To make them you will need a special æbleskivers pan, which is a skillet with 6 to 8 round indentations. Cast iron is best.
Makes about 20.
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 envelope dry yeast or .6 ounce fresh yeast (1 cake)
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamon
1/2 vanilla bean
2 large eggs, separatedUnsalted European-style butter
Strawberry or raspberry preserves
Heat milk in a small saucepan until lukewarm. Remove from heat and pour into a medium bowl. Add yeast and let it dissolve.
Combine flour, sugar, salt and cardamon in a medium bowl. Split vanilla bean and scrape seeds into the dry ingredients. Whisk the egg yolks into the milk. Add the wet ingredients to the flour and mix well. Beat egg whites in bowl of electric mixer until stiff. Fold into batter. Let stand one hour at room temperature.
Melt 1/2 teaspoon butter in each indentation of an aebleskiver pan over medium heat. Pour batter into each indentation, about 2/3 full. Cook until golden brown underneath, 3 to 4 minutes. Using a wooden skewer, turn æbleskivers over and continue to cook until golden and cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer æbleskivers to a plate lined with a paper towel, and repeat with remaining batter. Serve æbleskivers with powdered sugar and preserves. Accompany with gløgg.
1 cup raisins
1/3 cup Cointreau or Gran Marnier
1/2 cup whole almonds (optional)
1 1/2 cups Port wine
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup Cointreau or Gran Marnier
1/3 cup brown sugar
Zest of 2 untreated or organic oranges, shaved in strips with a vegetable peeler
2 cinnamon sticks
2 bottles full-bodied red wineFresh orange slices as garnish
Combine the raisins and Cointreau in a small bowl. Let sit at room temperature for at least 2 hours. (Raisins may be prepared up to one week in advance. Cover and refrigerate until use). Toast the almonds in a dry skillet on the stove. Remove from heat and coarsely chop in large pieces.
Combine all of the ingredients except the 2 bottles of red wine in a heavy large pot with a lid. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered until reduced to 2 cups, 12-15 minutes. Add red wine and warm over low heat with the lid on the pot. Do not let the gløgg come to a boil (lest the spirits will evaporate!)To serve, add a spoonful each of raisins and almonds, if using, to a glass or mug. Strain gløgg into glass. Garnish with fresh orange slices. Serve with a spoon for scooping up the raisins and almonds.