I’ve been collecting reasons for buying a waffle iron FOR YEARS (silly, I know) but today I’ve discovered the coup de grâce that will send me straight to the store come Monday. They’re called gaufres des Liège, otherwise known as Liège waffles, and they’ve obliterated my pre-waffle-iron-owning self.
Full disclosure: Yes, I’m watching Stage 1 from Liège to Seraing of the Tour de France, and I’m hungry. Really, really hungry.
Fresh from the racks in Liège (Source)
A diminutive variation on the Brussels waffle that relies less on toppings than dense, chewy perfection, the Liège waffle took its inspiration from brioche bread dough and pearl sugar, which caramelizes into crunchy pockets as the waffle cooks. Deliciously aromatic of vanilla and butter, the eponymous waffle first delighted the Prince-Bishop of Liège when his cook whipped up the recipe in the 18th century. They were an instant hit and filled Belgians with waffle frenzy soon after their debut. Today they’re a common street food, wrapped in paper, and dusted with cinnamon or eaten plain.
To make an authentic Liege waffle you really must get your hands on some pearl sugar (many recipes recommend Lars’ Own). Unlike cube sugar, the pearls are designed to withstand high heat without melting, thus ensuring those sweet pops of crunch when you bite into the waffle. I would recommend the authentic recipe for enthusiasts only since the prep time will likely leave you thinking these waffles are best left to the professionals. But don’t despair. Shortcuts abound and there are a gazillion recipes to choose from, though they might cause waffle purists to thumb their noses at what we’ll proudly Fauxliege waffles. The following recipes, curated according to active prep time, should help you started.
- One of the simplest & shortest Active Time: 30 mins
- The celebrity chef version: Bobby Flay’s Liège. Active Time: 40 mins
- Leite’s Culinaria Active Time: 1 hour
If any of you lovely readers try these recipes, let me know how they turn out. Once I hunt down a perfect waffle iron (recommendations are most welcome), I’m going to give the authentic recipe a whirl. I might even blog about making waffles in what will inevitably become the swear kitchen, but then again, I’ll probably be too busy eating. After all, anything that takes hours to make should be extraordinaire.