In America, we treat them as a breakfast-only item, but other places in the world sees it differently. In Belgium, one can find waffles in little street carts, with pearl sugar added to the batter so that it caramelizes as the waffle cooks. A similar sweet street food can be found in Hong Kong, topped with sweetened condensed milk. What makes waffles so good? I have no idea. What makes a good waffle? That is a different question entirely.
The first secret to making a good waffle is in the waffle iron. The whole idea behind a waffle iron is that the checkerboard pattern greatly increases the surface-area that is in contact with the hot metal. The result is something that cooks much more quickly, and a finished product that is crispy. If you are using an American waffle iron (the kind with the really small squares), you can make a half-decent waffle, but the deep Belgian style waffle iron is really the only way to go if you want a great waffle.
The next point, as important as the first, is that waffles are not pancakes, they are waffles. It sounds simple, but more than once, I have run into people who think that a waffle is nothing more than a square pancake. Its not. Pancakes are, well, cakes: soft, moist, and spongy. Waffles should be crispy on the outside, and soft on the inside—almost more like toast. Waffle batter is much stiffer than pancake. It can be leavened with baking soda, like a pancake, but most good recipes use other means to make the batter rise.
My method is one that uses yeast. The yeast gives a very distinct flavor, and also a… well… yeastiness.. I’ve had good luck with this recipe. They are good as sweet waffles, but you could just as easily top them with some fried chicken. I found that they even freeze better than other recipes that I’ve tried.
Yield: ~15 Belgian style waffles
2ea eggs, separated
1½t. instant dry yeast
1) Combine milk and butter and microwave until hot (Not boiling. Like 150°ish)
2) Combine dry ingredients except for sugar and sift
3) Add milk/butter mixture to dry, followed by egg yolks.
4) In a separate bowl, wisk egg whites, slowly incorporating the sugar, until they reach soft peaks
5) Fold egg whites into batter.
6) Pour into a large bowl or other container (batter will expand substantially).
7) Allow to rise for an hour at room temperature. At this point they can be cooked, or placed in the fridge for up to another 24 hrs.
8) Add roughly a 1/3 cup scoop to hot waffle iron and cook until golden
I made the waffles chocolate simply by substituting about ¼ cup of flour for an equal amount of cocoa powder. In truth, even with all the cocoa powder, the waffles didn’t taste that chocolaty, but it was enough.
The inspiration behind the dessert was bananas, chocolate, and peanut. I decided to top the waffle with some bruléed bananas (by far my favorite way to treat a banana), and peanut butter ice cream and a little chocolate lace (not pictured), to add crunch and that extra chocolatiness. People liked it so much I ended up running it two weekends in a row!