Aebleskiver pans are special pans in which to cook aebleskivers (small Danish pancake balls) on top of the stove.
The pans are usually round, but some are shovel-shaped. Round ones will be about 20 cm (8 inches) wide. You can get them made from cast iron, forged aluminum or non-stick coated metal. The handle is often metal, but may be wood or plastic.
The pan has in it rounded cavities (also described as indents, cups and more energetically, “half-spherical hollows”), traditionally seven of these, about 5 cm (2 inches) wide and 2 to 3 cm (1 inch) deep.
In most, you can see the round indents coming out of the underside of the bottom piece. A few, though, will have undersides that hide the indents at the bottom, with flat sides and a flat bottom (picture a cast-iron flying pan with what looks like a poached-egg insert). Manufacturers say this distributes the heat more evenly when placed on the heat. Manufacturers who leave the indents forming the hollow-sided bottom exposed counter that their design focusses the heat on the cavities.
To use an aebleskiver pan, you heat the pan until a few drops of water in it will sizzle away immediately. Melt about ½ teaspoon of butter in each cavity. Put your aebleskiver pancake batter into the indents, filling each about two-thirds full. As the pancakes cook, they puff up. Then, you rotate them in their cavities, with a fork, skewer or knitting needle (sic), to put the unbrowned tops on the bottom and cook some more to brown them thoroughly.
The outsides of the pancakes will get crusty.
Some North American versions may be found with a top and a bottom. Both have the same indents, lined up. The purpose of the top “lid” presumably is to help them cook faster, and maintain a more rounded shape as they cook.
You need to season the cast-iron ones first.
An alternative name, “munk pans” comes from another Danish name for aebleskiver, “munker” (monks).