These pancakes are one of my favorite family traditions around Christmas. Slightly thicker than a crepe, Norwegian pancakes are filled with butter and/or jam, rolled up, then covered with a drizzle of maple syrup and dusting of powdered sugar.
Happy Lille Julaften (a.k.a little Christmas Eve in Norwegian)! In Norway, December 23rd is an important part of the Christmas season as its when the family gets together to finish up holiday preparations. While my mom usually had the house decorated well before the 23rd, in my family Lille Julaften was the day we were finally allowed to eat Christmas cookies. Imagine being a kid and having to wait almost all of December – I’m pretty sure my mom let my brother and I sneak bites of her Scottish shortbread cookies and chocolate thumbprint cookies 😉
But once I went to college and wasn’t getting home until right before Christmas, the 23rd turned into the night for my family to hang our Christmas ornaments (a highly competitive feat between my brother and I) and bake all our Christmas cookies.
In addition to Lille Julaften, my dad tried to keep many Norwegian traditions alive including buying lefsa (a potato bread, which you cover with butter and brown sugar) and making Norwegian pancakes sometime between Lille Julaften and Christmas.
The best way to describe Norwegian pancakes is a slightly thicker crepe. Traditionally, we ate these with just butter, syrup, and powdered sugar (a real health food ;)), then the next day my mom would put cream cheese and fruit jam on the leftovers, roll them up, then microwave them just to get the jam warm. The leftovers were by far my favorite way to eat them!
While I didn’t want to go overboard with healthy changes, no whole wheat flour or only using egg whites, I did up the nutritional content a bit with the filling. Instead of just butter and sugar, I filled them with plain Greek yogurt and my strawberry chia seed jam. I still put powdered sugar and pure maple syrup out on the table as an option to keep these closer to the original, but I found them perfectly tasty without the added sugar.
Making these could not be simpler: whisk together flour, milk, sugar and egg. Add a pinch of salt and a splash of either vanilla or almond extract. Actually to make these really easy and free of lumps, I recommend putting the ingredients in a blender. Then, pour 1/4 cup of batter into a medium saucepan, tilting to allow the batter to cover the pan. Cook about 30 seconds to 1 minute then flip, cooking only a few seconds on the other side. And don’t be discouraged if the first one comes out less than pretty – I always find it takes until the 3rd of 4th pancake to really get in the hang of it.
So here’s a toast to spending the holiday season surrounded by good food and people you love!
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