Thursday, November 17, 2011

Cooking with Ned: Belgian Street Waffles

Pirate? and went to Europe a few years ago, while in Belgium we bought waffles from the street vendors. They were the most amazing waffles ever, sweet and sort of crispy and perfect without anything on them. Pirate? tried one covered in chocolate and it wasn't nearly as good as the plain street waffles.

Step 1: Visit Belgium, Eat Street Waffles, Return Home, Die Trying to Make Street Waffles

I kept trying different recipes for Belgian waffles, and always ended up with fluffy cake-like waffles. I tried adding more flour, honey, more sugar, anything I could think of to make them dense and chewy and amazing. My kitchen became increasingly covered in failed waffle batter. Finally it occurred to me to search the Internet, Fountain of All Knowledge. I automatically assume that any problem I have (aside from a small dog covered in hair dye) has already been experienced by someone else, who has both solved the problem and then posted about it on the internet.

Step 2: Liege Waffles, Street Waffles, Pearl Sugar
Fact: There are actually two kinds of "Belgian waffles". The familiar ones you get from the guy who makes the omelettes at a champagne brunch are known as Brussels waffles. These are the big, round, cakey waffles that I don't like. They are not street waffles. For some bizarre reason, the Liege waffle, iconic street waffle of Belgium, is completely unknown here in California. Once I found the secret identity of my beloved street waffles I was able to find some recipes to try out.

The next big barrier between myself and waffley goodness was the unavailability to pearl sugar in stores. See, in Europe they have a bunch of different kinds of sugar. There's caster sugar, pearl sugar, loaf we mostly just have sugar. Pearl sugar has much larger granules than regular table sugar, and it caramelizes during the waffling process to give the street waffles their crispy, waffley goodness. You can buy imported pearl sugar online, but if you lack the foresight or ability to plan your cooking exploits you can also just crunch some sugar cubes up with a meat tenderizer or other blunt object. Just don't mash them too fine.

Step 3: Find Recipe, Make Street Waffles, Die of Waffle-Poisoning
I found a number of recipes for Liege waffles once I knew what I was looking for. All of them called for yeast, and some also required the waffle batter to rise for an hour or more. I am impatient, so I selected a recipe that was probably authentic and only called for a total of 25 minutes of waiting. I originally planned to half the recipe in case these weren't the waffles of my dreams, then immediately forgot and added double the amount of sugar I needed. I now have a whole batch of waffley goodness, not exactly perfect, but definitely the closest thing to Belgian street waffles that I can make in my $20 Hello Kitty waffle iron.

No comments:

Post a Comment