November 2nd, 2009

My constant friend, insomnia, has been around since high school and it has its ways and means.  About a month ago while channel surfing at 3 in the morning, I happened upon TV Diner with Billy Costa, which is a great little show that features New England restaurants and chefs.  It’s especially nice television for us in the north country boondocks, because there is no restaurant in our town, but we can enjoy an evening out, vicariously, through TV Diner.

This episode mentioned a Hood Dairy Cook-off and the next morning I looked it up online.  The rules were simple enough; utilize one or more Hood products in a recipe that can be prepared, cooked and served in 40 minutes.  That would leave out my two specialties, entrees and artisan breads, so I looked around the kitchen and my eyes lit on the many dozens of jars of freshly canned apple butter.

To make a very long story short, my little recipe of Apple Butter Aebleskivers with Maple Chantilly was selected to participate in the semi-finals, so we headed down to Portland, Maine last Sunday to experience a first ever cooking competition.

I won the semi-final round and now we had seven hours to fill until the finals.  We watched the next two rounds and the talent at this competition became all too apparent and utterly intimidating for my funny little pancake ball.

Back in the venue at 4:15 p.m. for the final competition, stations set and aprons tied, the five contestants explained their dishes to the 200 visitors and the television host and crew from TV Diner.  We were cooking for five judges this time in the same 40 minute period with the added challenge of movie cameras and lots of hot lights.  At one point, Billy Costa actually came into my station, microphone in hand, to discuss the history of aebleskivers while I was trying to fill the first of three aebleskiver pans.

Ahead of me at the judges’ table were Million Dollar Mussels, whose outstanding aroma had taken over the venue, followed by an equally aromatic Shrimp and Lobster Linguine with Creamy Lemon Scampi Sauce, followed by a sensational Southwest Potato and Corn Chowder with Chili Rotisserie Chicken.  And then my dish was presented followed by beautifully plated Wild Blueberry Chocolate Blintz Crepes.

While the judges tallied the scores we cleaned our stations and stowed all the gear we’d been lugging around all day.  And then the results were announced; third place with 213 points was the lueberry chocolate crepes, second place with 214 points was the southwest chowder, and finally, in first place with 223 points were the little aebleskivers.

The $10,000 cash prize will be gone by the end of next week because we need to replace the furnace before the weather gets any colder.  But it’s the generosity of spirit and enthusiasm exhibited by the judges, contestants, coordinators and helpers that is the real prize, and one that will last my lifetime.

Prize Winning

Related Recipes

Apple Butter Aebleskivers with Maple Chantilly

  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 6 tablespoons maple syrup, divided
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup unbleached, all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • butter-flavored vegetable oil spray, for greasing the aebleskiver pan
  • toasted or spiced chopped nuts, for topping the chantilly
  • 1/3 cup apple butter (or apple sauce or jam), for filling the aebleskivers
  • confectioner’s sugar, for dusting the cooked aebleskivers
  • warm maple syrup, to pass separately

For the Maple Chantilly, whip the cream with a hand mixer until soft peaks form.  Add 4 tablespoons maple syrup and continue whipping until peaks stiffen.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

For the Apple Butter Aebleskivers, combine egg yolks, remaining maple syrup, vegetable oil and buttermilk in a large bowl and whisk until smooth.  Stir in the sea salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and flour.  Be careful not to over mix.  Set aside.

Whip the 2 egg whites, cream of tartar and a pinch of sea salt until stiff peaks form.  Stir 1/3 of the egg whites into the batter mixture until well combined.  Fold in remaining egg whites, in two batches, being careful not to deflate the egg whites.

Spray an aebleskiver pan* with butter-flavored oil. Fill each well with one tablespoon of batter followed by 3/4 teaspoon of apple butter followed by a final tablespoon of the batter.  Place on a burner set to medium to medium-high heat.  After about 4 minutes, small bubbles will appear on the surface of the batter.  Gently turn the aebleskiver over using two bamboo skewers (or knitting needles) and continue cooking for an additional 2-3 minutes until nicely browned on the bottom.  Remove to a rack and continue cooking batter.  Keep aebleskivers warm in a 170 degree oven or serve immediately.

Divide aebleskivers amongst 4- 6 plates, dust with confectioner’s sugar and top with a generous dollop of Maple Chantilly and nuts.  Pass warm maple syrup separately.


* The best aebleskiver pans are non-stick cast aluminum, nine inches in diameter with two and a half inch diameter divots for the aebleskivers.

Copyright © Katherine Stetson, all rights reserved.