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It’s a Pancake; It’s a Donut; It’s an Ebelskiver

Santa brought me a new toy.

OK, really it was my cousin and her husband who did. But you get my drift.

I fairly squealed when I opened the big box to see my very own ebelskiver maker. Uh, what’s that you ask? It’s like a specialty frying pan with seven big dimples in it. You pour batter into each crater to create spherical, filled Danish pancakes known as ebelskivers.

For years, I’d seen the pans featured in the Williams-Sonoma catalogue. I wondered if they were easy to use. And I was curious whether the round donut-hole-shaped pancakes really tasted all that much better than your standard flat ones.

Once you get the hang of making them, they are pretty quick to make. It helps to have your batter, and your fillings at the ready near the stove, because you need to work fast.

And yes, since you need to beat the egg whites separately, and then fold them into the batter, be prepared to dirty more than one bowl.

Heat the pan over medium heat, with 1/4 teaspoon butter in each well of the pan. Pour in a tablespoon of batter, add a small amount of your favorite filling, then top with a little more batter to seal the filling in. After the bottoms brown (about 3 minutes), use two wooden skewers to flip over each pancake ball to cook the other side.

Serve with maple syrup, a sprinkle of powdered sugar. or a little whipped cream. Eat with a fork, or use your fingers. Enjoy as breakfast, brunch, or dessert.

Unlike flat pancakes, the ebelskivers get a crisper exterior that gives way to a soft interior that holds a surprise inside.

After all, half the fun is experimenting with the fillings. Use your favorite jam, applesauce, Nutella, a couple of chocolate chips each, or even a dab of peanut butter. I’m dying to try a little ricotta next time.

Feel free to use your favorite pancake batter recipe or this one below.

And thank you again, Mr. and Mrs. Claus, aka Wayne and Terry, for my new toy.

Filled Pancakes

(makes about 40; the recipe also can be cut in half)

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon sugar

4 eggs, separated

2 cups milk

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus more for cooking

Fillings of your choice

Syrup or whipped cream for serving

In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. In a small bowl, lightly whisk egg yolks, then whisk in milk, and 4 tablespoons melted butter. Whisk yolk mixture into flour mixture until well combined; the batter will be lumpy.

In another bowl, using an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites on high speed until stiff but not dry peaks form, 2 to 3 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, gently stir whites into batter in two additions.

Put 1/4 teaspoon butter in each well of the ebelskiver pan. Set over medium heat and heat until butter begins to bubble. Pour 1 tablepoon batter into each well. Put 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of filling of your choice in the center of each pancake and top with a little bit more batter to seal the filling in. Add 1/4 teaspoon more butter to the top of each ebelskiver. Cook until bottoms are golden brown and crispy, 3 to 4 minutes.

Using two wooden skewers, flip the pancakes over and cook until golden and crispy, about 3 minutes more. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with remaining batter and filling. Serve immediately with syrup or whipped cream.

Adapted from a Williams-Sonoma recipe