Waffles–Not Just For Breakfast
We are very serious about waffles in our house. We have two waffle makers: one for standard Belgian-style waffles, and a little one that makes waffles in the size you find in the frozen food section. And just like the ones at the store, homemade waffles freeze beautifully. (If a large one is too much, just break off a section.)
Why take the time to make waffles? Homemade have a much richer flavour and better texture than store-bought. And waffles are surprisingly versatile when you think of them as more than vessels for maple syrup.
Given that they consist mainly of flour, eggs, milk, salt, and a bit of sugar, I tend to think of waffles as part of the bread family. Remember brioche buns being all the rage a while back? For me, waffles fall somewhere on the brioche side of the bread spectrum–a little denser and sweeter than bread, but basically a starch that can be used in a wide range of meals.
If you are just getting started with making waffles, you want to invest in a good waffle maker. We’ve had our share of cheap ones and, well, you get what you pay for. Cheaper ones tend not to last and also tend to cook unevenly. The exception is the little Dash waffle maker pictured below. I paid $20 for mine and it does a great job. You might want to try it before you invest in a full-size machine, just to make sure homemade waffles are something you want to commit to. (Be warned that there is no timer in the Dash model, so you’ll have to track the roughly 2 minutes it takes to cook a waffle yourself.)
What can you do with all of your waffles? Here are a few ideas.
- Create a “healthy” breakfast. Since our kids were young, we’ve insisted they put peanut butter on their waffles so they get at least some amount of protein. In my mind, the peanut butter’s healthiness counters the maple syrup, with which is pairs very well, by the way. Serve a bowl of berries on the side to get some vitamins in there too. (And, FYI, pure maple syrup contains several minerals and some antioxidants, so it’s not all bad.)
- Use waffles in a breakfast sandwich. Bread can get dry and boring, so mix things up by using waffles instead. Put peanut butter and jam between two waffles. Or try scrambled eggs between waffles instead of bread or an English muffin. Add some bacon or ham and a drizzle of maple syrup to get the full fast-food breakfast experience.
- Chicken and waffles. This dish originated in the US, possibly as far back as the 1600s, but became more widespread in the 1930s after being introduced in a Harlem supper club. (Read PBS’ history of chicken and waffles for more information. Jump back to part 1 for the history of fried chicken.) I tried this and liked it, but my kids were less convinced. I will serve it again, trying different sides and sauces. You can do your own fried chicken, or, to save time, use store-bought chicken, preferably from a hot counter. Or cook frozen chicken fingers to put on top. Serve with maple syrup and some hot sauce. A side of slaw works is highly recommended because the tangy crunch offsets some of the sweetness. A lot of recipes recommend apple/celery slaw, but cabbage would be good too. We like this broccoli stem and carrot slaw, but we cut WAY back on the dressing. We also really like the coleslaw that accompanies these lentil sloppy joes.
- Dessert! Waffles make a great dessert. Toast waffles and top with some sliced berries and a dollop of whipped cream. Chocolate sprinkles are always an option too. (Truth be told, my son puts chocolate sprinkles on his breakfast waffles too, or at least he did until the pandemic made them harder to source.) Or top your waffle with a scoop of ice cream and any preferred toppings.
- Snacks. Waffles work as a filling snack too. In fact, my sons used to take waffles to school and dip them in yogurt. They’re also good with peanut butter and sliced banana.
Finally, you can mix up the types of waffle you serve. Check the recipes that come with your waffle maker. There are bound to be recipes for multigrain, gluten-free, and savoury waffles.
Image of waffles by Netsign33 | Dreamstime.com. Waffle pictures by Crystal Smith.