Thursday, April 8, 2010
Belgian waffles are one of my all-time favorite decadent brunch entrees, and with either powdered sugar or chocolate, can also be a perfect dessert. I love using my waffle maker to make fresh waffles and I have tried a number of varieties over the last few years, some with greater success than others (not such a fan of buckwheat waffles, I must admit). A few weeks ago, I decided to make Belgian waffles as the main course for our weekend brunch guests. These waffles were a huge hit - our guests absolutely loved them and everyone finished the entire large waffle (in addition to a salad and cupcakes). The leftover waffles tasted just perfect later that evening for dinner as well! Thus, unlike politicians, this type of waffle is consistently a great brunch entree, but also a terrific dessert.
I love the way the waffle iron gives the waffles their distinctive pattern and shape. Belgian Waffles are generally prepared with yeast leavened butter. They are usually lighter, thicker and crispier than other waffle varieties. My Belgian waffles were made with fluffy egg whites, using the same technique used to prepare a souffle. Thus, they are especially light and fluffy. Most traditional Belgian waffles have rectangular sides. (Mine don't since I just used my conventional waffle maker for the recipe). Belgian waffles can be topped with confectioner's sugar (the traditional Belgian way), or with whipped cream, fruit and maple syrup.
Making these waffles made me crave Belgian food in a big way - everything from steak frites to Belgian fries to Belgian mussels is making my mouth water at the moment. I definitely need a foodie trip to Europe this summer - that's a hint to my husband that we have a lot of work to do on our trip planning for that summer vacation I've been waiting patiently for!
Belgian Waffles With Strawberries (recipe adapted from this recipe from the Food Network)
2 cups cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 egg whites
4 egg yolks (you will need to separate the eggs)
2 T sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
4 T unsalted butter, melted
2 cups milk (I used lowfat organic milk from Stonyfield Farms)
1/4 tsp cream or tartar
pint of fresh strawberries
fresh Vermont or Quebec maple syrup
Preheat the waffle iron according to the manufacturer's instructions. This recipe makes 8 large waffles in a conventionally sized waffle iron, but the leftovers actually hold up decently for a day or two. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. In a second bowl, beat together the egg yolks and the sugar until the mixture is pale yellow in color. Don't forget to save the egg whites in a bowl for later in the recipe. Add the vanilla, melted butter and milk, and whisk to combine.
Add the flour and mix until just combined - don't overbeat! Next, use your KitchenAid Stand Mixer (or a handheld mixer, if you do not have a stand mixer) to beat the egg whites until fluffy and they form stiff peaks. You should add about 1/4 tsp of cream of tartar to beat the egg whites and beat for at least 3 minutes on the highest speed. They egg whites are done when they are fluffy and foamy, just like as if you were making a souffle.
Using a spatula, gently fold in the egg whites into the batter, again, just like with a souffle. Be gentle and just fold in the whites, rather than stirring. Prepare the waffles in your iron following the manufacturer's instructions. I served them with fresh strawberries and a bit of whipped cream. They also taste great with high quality maple syrup, but this is less traditional.
To make Eric's Belgian-inspired Mussels Risotto, click here.