Caramel Belgian Waffles

Golden caramel waffles ready to pull from the waffle iron.

My friend Mikey brought this brilliant technique for dry caramelizing sugar to my attention last week. We decided to try it out last night at the Treehouse. With the joint suddenly smelling like an enchanted cookie forest, conversation turned to Liège waffles. For those who don’t eat them daily, Liège-style waffles are infused with this magic caramel produced by a fancy sugar

They’re sufficiently difficult that even I leave them to the professionals.

So here’s a riff on my favorite yeasted waffles (the yeast makes a more flavorful and smoothly textured waffle), using this fabulous new dry caramelized sugar. You can use brown sugar, too, and still have a great waffle. It just won’t be inspired. And really, don’t we all need a little inspiration with breakfast? Being for actual Belgian waffles this recipe is meant to be made in a Belgian (deep hole) waffle maker. For thinner waffle makers, I prefer to use my brown butter pancake recipe.

Anything more than whipped cream, and perhaps a drizzle of my dark chocolate sauce, is gilding the lily when it comes to topping these babies.

This recipe makes about a dozen 6-inch waffles.

Caramel Belgian Waffles
730g whole milk, warmed to body temperature
580g a/p flour
20 grates of nutmeg
7g instant yeast (1 packet)
3 eggs, separated
170g browned unsalted butter, cooled to no more than 100º
100g dry caramelized sugar or dark brown sugar
10g salt
8g vanilla

Prepare browned butter, as described in this cookie recipe that you should also be trying, an hour before you plan to mix the waffles.

Heat milk to about 100º, or the temperature you’d use for a baby’s bath, and set aside.

Weigh yeast into a small bowl and add 60g warmed milk. Stir to combine and set aside.

Combine flour and nutmeg in a bowl and set aside.

Beat the egg whites to soft peaks in a clean bowl and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together yolks from separated eggs with 60g warm milk, sugar, salt, vanilla, and cooled browned butter. Whisk in the yeast mixture.

Add a third of the flour to the milk and egg mixture, then gently whisk until only pea-sized pockets of dry flour remain. Add half of the milk and gently whisk in until just incorporated. Add another third of the flour, mixing as before, then the rest of the milk, and finally the last of the flour. With a large spoon or rubber spatula, fold in the egg whites until barely combined. It’s okay if a few streaks of egg remain.

Cover the bowl with a plate or plastic wrap and aside for an hour. The yeast will cause the batter to double in size. This is good and normal!

About forty five minutes into the hour of rest you give the batter, get your waffle iron warming up. Carefully rub the inside of the iron with a clean paper towel and a little vegetable oil after the waffle iron cycles the first time. Always follow your manufacturer’s instructions when using your waffle iron!

Add enough batter to the waffle iron to come almost to the top of the peaks in the lower half, spread quickly to even, and close the iron. If you don’t have a waffle iron with a built-in sensor, you can tell they’re done when only a little bit of steam is coming out from the maker, usually about four minutes.

Waffles are best eaten immediately, and I promise, your guests will be happy to wait to get one fresh and hot from the waffle iron. Subdue the crowd with mimosas if they get rowdy.

Brown Butter Pancakes

Dad's Birthday Bakes (May 16, 2016) #

I’m going to be honest, pancakes used bore me to tiny bits. It wasn’t until I started making them using the ratio from my Kitchen Grimoire, and playing with the recipe, that I landed on this version and came to love the pancake.

Of course they’re stellar with a pat of good salted butter (it’s Kerrygold or nothing) and some warm maple syrup (the smokey richness of the syrup from Sleeping Bear Farm in Michigan is superior). If you’re feeling different, mix it up with fresh or cooked fruit, honey, and/or whipped cream. Or go truly wild, lay a little bit of everything out, and let folks go all pancake bar. See also: prep things the night before and dominate Saturday breakfast with the kids. Bonus point for getting them to help you out with the dishes.

The real flavor driver in these pancakes is browned butter. Check out my Molasses Spice Bombs to get the technique if it’s not already in your repertoire.

This recipe yields about 16 1/4 cup pancakes.

Brown Butter Pancakes
165g a/p flour
6g baking powder
2g powdered ginger
2g cinnamon
10 grates of fresh nutmeg
330g milk
3 eggs
3g salt
88g unsalted butter, browned and cooled for fifteen minutes

Prepare browned butter, as described in this cookie recipe that you should also be trying, and set it aside to cool while you prep the other ingredients. If you’re making it the night before, gently warm to melted before adding to the milk.

Weigh flour, spices, and baking powder into the larger of two mixing bowls. Whisk to combine. Weigh salt and milk into a second bowl, crack in eggs, and whisk to combine well. While whisking, drizzle in the browned butter. Be sure to get all of those little brown bits in the butter. That there is flavor country!

Add the wet stuff to the dry stuff and fold together with a large spoon or rubber spatula until mostly combined. Stop mixing when there are still some pea-sized pockets of dry flour. It’s gonna be fine. Mix the batter any longer, and you’ll have something more suited to a sneaker sole than a breakfast plate.

Let the batter rest while you heat a heavy skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium heat. Non-stick pans will also do, but I wouldn’t try this in stainless steel for love nor money. Once the pan’s up to temperature, pour in a tablespoon of oil or butter, swirl around to coat, and then wipe out with a paper towel. Yes, wipe it out.

Now ladle in pancakes of your desired size. I like 1/4 cup pancakes, which spread to about 4-inches. Turn as soon as you see bubbles breaking and lightly set in the middle of the pancake, usually about a minute. Flip and cook for another minute. Wipe the pan with the lubed paper towel from earlier between batches.

If you’re making all at once to serve as a big stack, hold them in a 170º oven on a plate lined with a clean kitchen towel. These reheat better in the toaster oven than the microwave, if you’re into that kind of thing.