Sunday, July 11, 2010

Sunday Waffles... REAL waffles!

There is a small percentage of people, when they find out that I grew up in a place called Belgium, that invariably come out with the world’s dumbest statements or questions… If some of them are smart enough to know that Brussels is the capitol of Belgium, I’ll get “did you eat a lot of Brussels sprouts?” Others will reply: “Oh, I’m from St. Paul…” and some other will ask “You grew up in a communist country?” I also hear mention of Jean-Claude VanDamme, and the rare mention of fries… Most however, will immediately blurt out: “Oooh, I LOVE Belgium waffles…”

The sucking void of stupidity of that statement aside, I am always struck at how wrong Americans are when they think they’re getting something remotely close to *real* Belgian (WITH AN ‘AN’) waffles when they sit down at their local breakfast joint. They think Belgian waffles constitute a stack or a giant round of light, crispy bisquicky whatever with fruit and whipped cream or syrup glopped on top… not that I object to the deliciousness factor of this breakfast confection, but these are absolutely not Belgian waffles. Not even remotely close to Belgian waffles. The waffle shape is what these confections have in common… they both have flour in them... that’s about it. Trust me American people… Those waffles you eat are good… but you have NO IDEA what you’re missing.

Belgian waffles actually are cakey and have yeast in them. They also have (which is what makes them so incredibly delicious and unique) sugar pearls in them. What’s a sugar pearl you ask? It’s a little chunk of sugar that mixes into the dough, and stays there until you smash it into a waffle-iron and cook it until the sugar melts and caramelizes all over the waffle and into little crystalline pockets that melt on your tongue.

Let me tell you this… these waffles are so delicious they are irresistible, no waffle will ever compare again. There’s this metro stop in Brussels on the way to the embassy where the doors open, the alluring scent of carmelized sugar gusts onto the train in billowy clouds of temptation the second the doors slide open. It was always a battle of self control not to elbow my way off the train and sprint up the escalator to the little kiosk. I often succumbed. At the top of the escalator, that evil waffle-makin’ man dropped that wad of dough studded in sugar pearls onto a fire-heated iron, and seared that melting, finger-burning ambrosia of deliciousness into a waffle right there for me. Then he wrapped the golden, sugary product in paper so I could safely hold it and carry it back down to the train. I would clutch it with my shoulders hunched over it like a rabid dog. I would burn my lips trying to eat it while I waited for the next train. I would lose myself in the sugary deliciousness of a fresh, hot Belgian waffle.

Waffles, Belgian waffles, REAL waffles… they are not just for breakfast. They are for anytime you want a goddamn waffle.

So, the other day, I found sugar pearls on Amazon. That was all the excuse I needed. So ladies and gentlemen… I present to you… REAL Belgian waffles… (Please excuse picture quality, these were taken with my phone…)

Conveniently, there is a recipe on the back of the little sugar pearls packages.

First thing you want to do is dissolve 2.5 tsp of yeast (a packet) in 3/4 of a cup of lukewarm milk.

Then you want to toss 3.5 cups of flour into a mixer, and add 2 sticks of softened butter (yes, I never claimed these were the healthiest of treats…), a half teaspoon of salt, two eggs, and a teaspoon of vanilla (optional but my preference..) the recipe also says cinnamon is optional, but I can’t even abide that notion at all… yugh!

Then you add your yeasty milk, and mix that all up into a ball.

Let it sit for thirtyish minutes (until your dough has doubled in size)

 and then add a little 8oz bag of the sugar pearls.

Mix it up, break ‘em into into little palm-sized dough-balls, and then squash them down into your waffle iron.

These are thick and take a longer time to cook… make sure your waffle iron is hot, and just let it cook.

If you could only smell my kitchen right now… I’m salivating.

Oh, and besides the much-fattening nature of these waffles, they 1) store and keep well and remain crunchy and delicious… 2) make a HUGE mess of your waffle iron, and cleaning it is a bit of a bitch, and 3) don’t rely on your little waffle-light to tell you they’re cooked or they’ll be overcooked. Just pop them into the iron, and then after a minute, check it, and keep checking it until it becomes a golden brown but with some still light-toned on the edges and 4) if you live in an apartment complex, be prepared for questions because the aroma is overwhelming.  I recommend to all you try it at least once.  The pearls aren't cheap but they're on amazon, or you could try making them (I have yet to try that).


Christine H. said...

Yum, looks delicious. You can also get pearl sugar at IKEA.

Jody said...

omg - i want some right now, dammit

Solanaland said...

Must. Have. Belgian. Waffles.

Anonymous said...

time to dust off the waffle iron x

Veronika said...

Hi there,
I've just found your blog through an other blog (where else... ! :) ) and the name Hungarican caught my attention.
En is magyar vagyok.. :)
So, if you don't mind, I'll follow your site and perhaps you'd be interested to check mine out.


Glitzy said...

Wow! Those waffles are amazing. I seriously have to bookmark this post. Stumbled upon your blog via the blogger profile thing. Cheers!

p.s. when I hear 'Belgium' the first thing I think of is the Rene Magritte museum.

Anonymous said...

The sugar pearls you get at IKEA are not the same as the belgian ones. They're much smaller.


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