Poffertjes have a long history dating back to the 1700s. A Dutch treasure, these tiny pancakes have a few fabled stories on how they became so popular in Europe over the past three centuries.
Some believe that these delectable treats have roots in a Dutch Abbey, where the mini-pancakes were used as a type of host for weekly communion. An acute shortage of wheat flour during the French Revolution meant that buckwheat flour was used to make the pancake batter, which afforded a decidedly plump and even more delicious end product. When regular church-goers sampled the tiny pancakes, they were hooked. End of story.
The mini-pancakes were prepared using a cast-iron poffertjes pan and were quickly became known as poffertjes because they puffed up considerably during the cooking process, the story goes.
This holiday season, you have a chance to try them out for yourself. Poffertjes and More by The Littlest Pancake is located at Holidazzle and makes a great treat for you and yours to enjoy this holiday season.
They’re made by the VanZyl’s, Steve and Karin, a couple who have a deep appreciation for good, quality food and these poffertjes’ origins. The VanZyl’s are a Dutch family, and Karin herself lived in France and Germany when she was young.
They’re making poffertjes for you at Holidazzle with the help of their friends Patty, Brian and Peter.
Steve VanZyl has 30 years of experience as a chef in restaurants; his most recent position was at the Lexington Restaurant in St. Paul before becoming a stay-at-home dad when his daughter was born seven years ago. Karin VanZyl, who grew up with her mother’s excellent French cooking ability, also has had food and entertainment as a centerpiece of her life.
So for the two of them to be cooking poffertjes, as well as chili, at Holidazzle is a great way to spend time together during the holidays.
Everything this group creates is made from scratch, including a special house-made, secret recipe for the sauces. Their caramel topping is their best seller, and it’s to die for.
At Holidazzle, you can try the works.
“[Holiday markets] have a magic that is hard to describe to people who have never been to them,” Karin said. “The food and drinks are amazing, and there are high quality merchandise vendors year after year. I want this market to be as magical as they are in Europe. The joy they bring is phenomenal. This could happen I think, if good food and a variety of interesting vendors keep coming every year. Also entertainment and activities really add to the excitement and merry making.”
You can stop by Holidazzle on Thursdays through Sundays from November 24 through December 23 at Loring Park. The event is open 5-9 pm on Thursdays and Fridays and 11 am-9 pm on Saturdays and Sundays.
For the VanZyl’s, perhaps the best part is seeing the excitement on people’s faces when they try their poffertjes and enjoy this tasty Dutch treat. The mini-pancakes can be topped with chocolate, powdered sugar, whipped cream and other toppings. It makes for a delectable sweet treat as you walk through Holidazzle.
“For us, it is about using authentic recipes and working and reworking versions of the product until it is just right,” Karin said. “We are not able to serve something that we ourselves do not love. The chicken chili is outstanding, and the sauces we make which are served with the poffertjes are amazing.”
Karin said they’ve gotten hooked on market vending and are excited to see you this winter.
“We have been experimenting with a variety of foods throughout the year,” Karin said. “Poffertjes is one of our favorites, and perfect for the winter season. Steve is an excellent chef, and together we cater small scale events and parties in addition to vending. One of my favorite things is interacting with customers. They have been jolly and cheerful, which makes this experience all the more enjoyable.”