Ever since I was a kid, pancakes have been a Sunday staple in my family while waffles have been for special occasions. But now, we (like many of you) are seeing waffles in a whole new light—as something more than just pancake batter made better by its geometric shape. When filled with unexpected ingredients and cleverly cooked, today’s waffles work wonders and are proving perfect to serve anytime, anywhere. Want to your waffles to wow? Here’s how.
Cuisinart’s Vertical Stand electric waffle maker is practically perfect. An obvious space saver for both counters and cabinets, this is also a pretty fool-proof little appliance with a top pour spout for batter that fills the waffle grids evenly and without drips (the waffle maker remains closed during filling) and then bakes to a consistent thickness without flipping. Also features five browning settings, plus ready-to-bake and ready-to-eat indicator lights and an audible alert. $59.95.
Why dip a chip when you can dip…a waffle. From Nordic Ware (creator of the original Bundt® pan) comes the Waffle Dipper pan that turns waffles into fun, dippable finger food. Made of durable cast aluminum, this non-stick pan has two interlocking halves that pull apart for effortless release of waffles and for easy cleaning. $77.95.
If your home sometimes feels ringmaster-worthy, this is so for you. Nostalgia’s Circus Animal waffle maker serves up one cat, dog, elephant and lion-shaped waffle per batch. This non-stick aluminum griddle heats evenly, is easy to clean and has a locking latch that secures the lid during baking. $9.99.The Kalorik® Waffle Bowl maker takes batter to the next level, creating golden edible mini bowls that can be filled for breakfast (think scrambled eggs, bacon, cheese) or dessert (think custard, fruit, ice cream). Also features power on and ready-to-eat indicator lights, a non-stick finish and a locking clip for space-saving vertical storage. $34.99
The Chef’s Choice® Waffle Pro “Five of Hearts” waffle maker is a cinch to use. Its unique quad baking system lets you select the ideal flavor, texture and color of your waffles. And in just 90 seconds, waffles cook up crispy with fresh-from-the oven flavor. Also features a waffle-ready beeper and light, plus a non-stick finish. $69.99.
Innovative waffle makers like these give waffles the appearance of something special. But it takes a great recipe to make waffles truly special. Dawn Yanagihara’s “Waffles—Sweet, Savory Simple” does that with aplomb. Of all of the rockin’ recipes in this delightful cookbook, this one caught my eye that most because it’s so savory, easy to make and includes one of the trendiest ingredients on the planet—bacon.
Mini Salt-and-Pepper Waffles with Bacon–Green Onion Clam Dip
“Waffles—Sweet, Savory, Simple”
Makes about 45 mini (2- to 2½-in/16.5-cm) Waffles
Okay, so the “dip” here isn’t really a dip because each mini waffle is topped with a spoonful before serving. But if you so desired, you could serve the mini waffles unadorned, for actual dipping. If you go that route, consider doubling the dip because it’s highly addictive, and with dippers left to their own devices, the bowl may empty out very quickly. You don’t need any special equipment to make mini waffles. By spooning small dollops of batter onto the center of each section that makes up the waffle-iron grid, you can make several minis at once. (For example, a standard round iron that makes a four-section waffle will yield four mini waffles.) A standard waffle iron works much better for this purpose than a Belgian or heart-shaped waffle.
4 oz/115 g bacon
One 6½-oz/185-g can chopped clams, drained well
6 tbsp/90 ml mayonnaise
6 tbsp/90 ml sour cream
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
½ tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/8 tsp ground celery seed
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup/140 g unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp sugar
1¼ tsp baking powder
½ tsp fine sea salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 large egg
1 cup/240 ml whole milk, at room temperature
3 tbsp/40 g unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
Freshly ground black pepper
1 or 2 green onions, green parts only, thinly sliced on the diagonal.
To make the dip: In a medium frying pan over medium-high heat, cook the bacon, stirring frequently, until browned and crisped, 8 to 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels and set aside to cool.
In a small bowl, combine the clams, mayonnaise, sour cream, green onions, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, celery seed, and bacon and stir until well blended. Season with salt and pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours to allow the flavors to meld.
To make the waffles: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and pepper until well combined.
In a small bowl, whisk the egg until combined, and then whisk in the milk. Gradually whisk in the butter.
Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk gently just until the batter is evenly moistened. Give the batter a couple of folds with a rubber spatula to ensure that there aren’t any pockets of flour. The batter will be quite fluid. Let the batter stand for about 5 minutes; it will thicken slightly.
Meanwhile, set a large wire rack on a large, rimmed baking sheet. Preheat a standard (not Belgian) waffle iron.
Using a 1-tbsp measuring spoon and working quickly, pour about 2 tsp batter into the center of each quadrant, rectangle, or square that makes up the larger grid—the amount of batter will seem extremely scant. Close the lid and bake the waffles until well browned and crisp. It may take a couple of rounds to get the size of the mini waffles just right. Transfer the waffles to the wire rack and repeat with the remaining batter. You should have about 45 mini waffles— more than you’ll need—but the remainder freezes well.
Spoon about 2 tsp dip onto each mini waffle. Sprinkle with pepper and garnish with a few slices of green onion. Arrange the mini waffles on a platter or tray and serve right away.
Recipe courtesy of “Waffles—Sweet, Savory, Simple” by Dawn Yanagihara, Chronicle Books.