Vafler - Norwegian heart waffles

April 26, 2011
Author Notes

I've been mulling for days now, and I've had a really hard time coming up with what recipe I would want to be remembered for. I think, when it comes down to it, I don't really want to be remembered for any particular recipe so much as for my table, which I strive to make a place where people always feel welcome to come as they are and gather to share food and stories. The most important aspect of food, to me, is the way eating together is a communion. It teaches us about each other and knits us together.
That said, there are some foods that I break out more frequently than others for friends, and most of these are Norwegian dishes I learned to make from my mom. I thought about lefse (potato flatbread), which is so important to me in the way it represents my community from childhood, and now. But, lefse belongs to my neighborhood, not me. And I thought about boller (cardamom buns), but I think my mom is still queen of the bolle baking. So, I finally decided to go with Norwegian waffles, or vafler. In Norway, these are the quintessential snack food. Children sell them by the side of the street, like lemonade. They are served at huts out on the hiking/ski trails to give you sustenance to keep going. Mothers keep bowls of batter in their refrigerator to make snacks for their kids or unexpected coffee guests. And, most everyone has their own recipe. They are very characteristic of the things I love about the culture I was raised in, and they are something I frequently make for holidays, or just a delicious afternoon or evening snack.
A heart waffler was one of the few pieces of equipment I made absolutely sure to bring with me when I left for college, and it has followed me everywhere since. (In college, my best friend and I used to wake our boyfriends up super early once a week to have fresh waffles for breakfast with us before class - they were always so cranky...until they started eating). If (hopefully) we have kids, I plan on making waffles for them as a surprise treat, like my mom did for us growing up. I have to admit, I never make vafler the same way twice. They're made to be flexible to use any dairy you have on hand, and then you just add things until the batter looks and tastes right. But, here's the measurements from my most recent batch. Serve fresh and hot accompanied by good fruit preserves and either sour cream or whipped cream. Or just have them spread with a little pat of butter. - fiveandspice

Test Kitchen Notes

I had never had a vaffler before, but after trying fiveandspice’s recipe, my family and I are total converts! These are indescribably good. I don’t own a heart-shaped waffle maker, so I tested this recipe first with a pizzelle iron (not a good idea—the vafflers emerged from the iron limp and flacid). Next I tried a Belgian waffle iron. Success! The vaffler batter is quite thin, so I used 1 cup of batter per Belgian waffle, just enough to coat the bottom of the iron. The baked vafflers had a nice height, were a bit chewy inside, and had a lovely crispiness around the edges. They were deliciously eggy with a delicate sweetness, flavored with just a whisper of cardamom and vanilla sugar. We ate these with butter and maple syrup, but my family also loved fiveandspice’s serving suggestion to top them with jam and sour cream—a yummy flavor combination. Excellent recipe—can’t wait to make this again! - cookinginvictoria —cookinginvictoria

  • Makes about 8 waffle rounds
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1-2 teaspoons freshly ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla sugar (this is what you use in Scandinavia instead of vanilla extract, but you can substitute in extract)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, plus more for serving
  • good fruit preserves for serving
  • whipped cream for serving (optional)
In This Recipe
  1. In a large bowl, thoroughly whisk together the ingredients from eggs through vanilla sugar (this can be done by hand, or in a standing mixer).
  2. Combine the milk, buttermilk, and water (the water gives them a bit of crispness on the outside. For softer waffles, you can omit it and replace it with milk). Whisk this liquid mixture into the dry ingredients bit by bit to make a smooth batter.
  3. Let the batter rest at room temperature for at least a half hour, and preferably an hour. Then, whisk in the melted butter and sour cream right before you are ready to cook them. Preheat your waffle iron at this point.
  4. Cook the batter in a heart waffle iron about ¾ cup at a time (so that the iron is just full but not overflowing), until each waffle is golden brown (no clue how long this actually takes – I just go by sight, opening the iron and peeking in after a few minutes. Butter the waffle iron as needed during the cooking process. Transfer done waffles to a cooling rack so they don’t get soggy. Hopefully at this point, you'll have people hanging out with you in the kitchen chatting with you and snapping up the waffles as soon as they hit the cooling rack.
  5. Serve in little sets of two to make sandwiches, or as whole rounds, with butter or preserves (and sour cream or whipped cream if you wish). Vafler are by far the best when they’re warm and fresh off the waffle iron. But, you can also allow them to cool on a cooling rack, and they keep for a day or two refrigerated and you can reheat them as desired in a toaster oven.

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I like to say I'm a lazy iron chef (I just cook with what I have around), renegade nutritionist, food policy wonk, and inveterate butter and cream enthusiast! My husband and I own a craft distillery in Northern Minnesota called Vikre Distillery (www.vikredistillery.com), where I claimed the title, "arbiter of taste." I also have a doctorate in food policy, for which I studied the changes in diet and health of new immigrants after they come to the United States. I myself am a Norwegian-American dual citizen. So I have a lot of Scandinavian pride, which especially shines through in my cooking on special holidays. Beyond loving all facets of food, I'm a Renaissance woman (translation: bad at focusing), dabbling in a variety of artistic and scientific endeavors.