Pommes Frites. Bananaweizen. Currywurst. Spaghettieis. Schokolade. Doener-kebab. Broetchen. Torte. These were the foods that defined my time studying abroad in Germany. Six years ago, I spent the most wonderful semester immersed in the culture of my background, learning & speaking German, cheering on the German National soccer team during the world cup, making friendships to last a lifetime, traveling throughout Europe on long weekends, and eating and drinking…a lot.
I grew up eating German food, thanks to my mom, and Oma and Opa living right next door to us. I knew all about Spaetzle, Rolladen, Sauerkraut, Schnapps, and real, good chocolate. Studying in Germany was just as much about the classes as it was about the culinary experience. My friends and I tried new foods, beer you could only get locally (though not always the most delicious), and sweets that would make anyone’s mouth water.
That’s why, for this month’s Recipe Redux theme of “vacation foods,” I knew I had to recreate something from my travels. One trip that stands out from my semester abroad was when my friend Lisa and I traveled through three countries in four days. We hit up Luxembourg first, followed by a day in Brussels (where our hostel was next door to a Godiva factory), and finished with two days and nights in Amsterdam.
Brussels was an epicurean blur. In the span of 24 hours, I ate and drank:
- the best beer of my life,
- the most amazing chocolate,
- original Pommes Frites, with real mayonnaise and caramelized onions,
- and the best. waffle. ever.
That’s a lot to consume in one day. I still hold that we each gained 5 pounds in Brussels, which we luckily walked off over the duration of our trip. Those waffles were something from another sweet, delicious world. They were crispy and caramelized on the outside with a soft and sweet interior. The pearl sugar melts right into and onto the dough, creating a magnificent flavor.
Alas, bready waffles filled with pockets of sugar aren’t exactly healthy. So, for this recipe, I used mostly whole wheat flour, reduced the amount of pearl sugar, and swapped in coconut oil for traditional butter.
If you don’t intend to eat all the waffles at once (ha, good luck!), these freeze really well, which makes them perfect for a lazy weekend morning in the future.
Whether you’ve traveled to Belgium or not, I guarantee these sweet waffles will transport your mind, and stomach, all the way to Europe
Whole Wheat Belgian Waffles, adapted from Chocolate & Zucchini
Makes 15 small waffles
- 3/4 C lukewarm milk of choice – simply measure the milk into a large measuring cup and let sit on the counter for a bit to bring up to room temperature
- 1 tbsp active dry yeast (two of the small packets)
- 3 C whole wheat pastry flour
- 3/4 C all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 2 tbsp coconut sugar
- 2 large or extra large eggs
- 1/2 C + 2 tbsp softened coconut oil (place in the fridge while the milk warms up if yours is liquid)
- 3/4 C pearl sugar
Mix lukewarm milk and yeast together. Let sit 15 minutes so it can become bubbly.
In the bowl of your stand mixer, whisk together the flours, salt, cinnamon and sugar. Pour in the milk and eggs and mix with a wooden spoon to begin incorporating the ingredients.
Using the dough hook on your mixer, knead the dough for 5 minutes on the slowest setting.
Add in the coconut oil and knead again long enough so all the oil is mixed in and the dough becomes one big, sticky ball.
Cover the bowl with a tea towel and let rise two hours, or until the dough is doubled in size. Time will vary based on the temperature and conditions of your kitchen.
With a wooden spoon, mix in the pearl sugar. Scoop out dough balls, about 2″ wide, and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. You should get 15 balls of dough. Let rest for 15 minutes while your waffle iron heats up.
Place one dough ball in each of the four parts of your hot waffle iron. Flatten with your fingers, press down the lid, and cook 4-5 minutes. You want the surface to be a shiny, sticky brown color, and the edges should look just cooked.
Transfer waffles to a cooling rack and let sit for 5-10 minutes before enjoying. It’s important not to place these on a plate, as the steam will make the waffles soggy, rather than creating the ideal crispy exterior.
Repeat with remaining dough balls. OR, place the baking sheet with the dough balls in your freezer and let freeze a few hours before transferring to a freezer-safe ziplock bag. When you want fresh waffles, thaw as many dough balls as desired for 3 hours at room temperature, and then cook like normal!
Enjoy warm, and try not to eat them all
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