Vafler - Norwegian heart waffles

April 26, 2011
3 Ratings
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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • gingerroot
  • cookinginvictoria
  • lorigoldsby
  • AntoniaJames
  • hardlikearmour
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.

    47 Reviews

    Erik April 26, 2015
    mstv November 18, 2014
    Really delicious! Made a 1/2 recipe for just the two of us and served with sour cream and homemade cherry plum jam.
    gingerroot June 2, 2011
    This week is flying by...I've been meaning to let you know I made these with my children (with my Mother's Day waffler!) over the weekend and they are wonderful! I really love the warmth and spice the cardamom imparts. I froze the extra waffles and we've been enjoying them for breakfast every day since. We'll be making these for years to come!
    Author Comment
    fiveandspice June 2, 2011
    I agree! This week is going by crazy fast, and I know I for one haven't really had much time for anything but my "real job"! But, I'm so, so happy to hear that you made these and that you've been enjoying them! I love thinking about you and your lovely children eating them together! Thank you for letting me know. :)
    cookinginvictoria May 15, 2011
    Oh, and just wanted to also say, fiveandspice, how much I enjoyed your lovely headnote about the Norwegian dishes that you grew up with that continue to have special meaning for you today. Love especially the sentiment about not just sharing food at our tables but sharing our stories and our lives with those whom we choose to break bread with. You expressed it all so beautifully -- thank you!
    Author Comment
    fiveandspice May 15, 2011
    Oh thank you so much! You're so very kind to say so.
    lorigoldsby May 12, 2011
    love cookinginvictoria's note about using a belgian waffle maker--wanted to try this recipe but missing the necessary equipment. Now I will be able to make this next week when the kid arrives home from college. Thanks fiveandspice for sharing an amazing recipe and story and kudos to c-i-v for her testing notes!
    Author Comment
    fiveandspice May 13, 2011
    Oh, I do hope you give them a try. Let me know what you think if you do! I'm so happy to know that they work in a Belgian waffler as well, and cookingvictoria has my deep thanks. See, I don't own a regular waffle maker (I have all sorts of oddball cooking equipment for Norwegian dishes and am missing some fairly standard ones!), so I had never had the opportunity to try it myself. But, now we know and I'm so excited!!!
    cookinginvictoria May 15, 2011
    Yay-- I am so happy that this was selected as an EP! I was a little nervous about trying them in a Belgian waffle maker, but they did just fine, rising to a nice height with a lovely flavor and texture. My six year old daughter's verdict: "Different, but quite delicious!" :) The only thing I wasn't able to do was serve them as sandwiches. They were too thick, so we just spread the accompaniments on top. I thought that the sour cream and jam combo was heavenly -- much better than the traditional butter and maple syrup. I look forward to making these again!

    AntoniaJames May 11, 2011
    We adore waffles in this family . . . . so I am looking forward to making these (in a standard round waffle iron) this weekend, if not sooner. And did you say "sour cream" AND "buttermilk"? Oh me, oh my. No doubt, I'll customize them, to sub in some barley flour and wheat germ, my favorite two dry ingredients for anything made with a batter or dough. Stay tuned . . . . .;o)
    Author Comment
    fiveandspice May 11, 2011
    Thanks AJ! I hope you give them a try. I bet they'd be delicious with barley flour and wheat germ. I can't eat barley, but I recently bought some sprouted spelt, which I'm thinking about working into the vaffler. I would love to hear how they turn out when you get to them!
    hardlikearmour April 29, 2011
    Love your story and your waffles and your photography is outstanding!
    Author Comment
    fiveandspice April 29, 2011
    Oh, thanks hla! You're so kind to say so!
    lorigoldsby April 28, 2011
    Our daughter wakes up her boyfriend for Sunday breakfast--which he is never crazy about eating the dorm food. I think I'll get her a heart waffler...she'll love the tool and he'll love the results! Beautiful story....and you are right...I struggled with the recipe because it is the act of sharing meals with family and friends that seems to be the heart of meal--although we love talking ABOUT the food! LOL
    Author Comment
    fiveandspice April 29, 2011
    Definitely love talking about the food too, haha! Good luck to your daughter and the Sunday breakfast campaign! Waffles never hurt the getting up experience. :)
    boulangere April 28, 2011
    The story of your waffles, and that of your dishware collection, are so very lovely. You made the right choice of which recipe to share, and thank you for it.
    Author Comment
    fiveandspice April 28, 2011
    Aw, thank you. I'm glad you think so.
    Greenstuff April 28, 2011
    One more little story and an off-the-track, question. (You always seem to get me reminiscing.)

    We also have heart-shaped waffles, but maybe not as often as some of us would like. The cardamom is an especially nice addition. When we were kids, waffles were more often a children's supper than they were a breakfast or brunch. Our generation was American and we ate a lot of maple syrup. We also made a lot of preserves, but we mostly ate our waffles with lingonberries. My brother would methodically place one lingonberry into each depression before he'd start to eat his waffle. He grew up to be an engineer.

    The question is about your cute blue and white dishes--they look like a casual version of Royal Copenhagen. What are they? And how is it that you, a relatively young cook, have such a great variety of dishware for your photographs?
    Author Comment
    fiveandspice April 28, 2011
    What a great memory! Thanks for sharing! We were never lucky enough to get waffles for supper - just snack - but we did have pancakes with lingonberries or blueberries for supper. The dishes in my photo are by a company called "Sinclair" which I think may be Italian. But, I got them in a little shop in Norway because I thought that they did have that look similar to the Royal Copenhagen dishes (which I love!!!) but were much more affordable. And, my abundance of dishes? Well, my grandmothers on both sides, plus my great aunt, had a tendency to accumulate beautiful dishes, so we inherited a lot of beautiful sets and my mother has allowed me to take some of them preemptively. And, then if I see some dishes I love I have a tendency to buy just a couple of plates or cups - it's a compulsion, maybe it's genetic. I do that instead of buying clothes, I guess!!!
    Lizthechef April 27, 2011
    I'm married to a Wisconsin waffle "junkie - can't wait to try your recipe. It looks terrific!
    Author Comment
    fiveandspice April 27, 2011
    Thanks Liz! Waffle junkies of the world, unite! Hehe. (years ago I used to have a vague dream of starting an international waffle house with waffles from around the world. Never got around to it, though...)
    TiggyBee April 27, 2011
    Love the sentiment behind these little beauties, fiveandspice!
    Author Comment
    fiveandspice April 27, 2011
    Thank you so much TiggyBee! :)
    Greenstuff April 27, 2011
    As always, I love your story. My daughter took a Swedish pancake pan to college. Is your waffle iron stove-top or electric, and do you have an opinion about the two? Thanks again, for this peak into your life.
    Author Comment
    fiveandspice April 27, 2011
    Hi Greenstuff, and thanks! Your daughter is so lucky to have a pancake pan! I'm stuck just using a plan frying pan for that one :). My waffle iron is electric, which I have to say I prefer because when I've used the stove top ones I have a tendency to cook the waffles unevenly and start the occasionally fire from dripping batter. (My mom and I had a very exciting incident over Christmas a couple of years ago when we couldn't find her iron and borrowed a neighbor's stovetop one!)
    lapadia April 27, 2011
    I love your heart waffles! Thanks for sharing your story and recipe with us, fiveandspice!
    Author Comment
    fiveandspice April 27, 2011
    Thank you lapadia! All the stories growing out of this contest are just so fun!
    Midge April 27, 2011
    I love your story - that's awesome that you brought your waffler to college. These sound so special and I think they'd be delicious with some kind of rhubarb jam ;)
    Author Comment
    fiveandspice April 27, 2011
    Ooh yes. I think I'll definitely break out the heart waffler for our rhubarb party!
    Midge May 15, 2011
    I'm still thinking about these incredibly tasty treats! Thanks so much for making them yesterday!
    Author Comment
    fiveandspice May 15, 2011
    Aw, thanks! I'm glad you liked them. Your scones were Phe-nomenal! :)
    Bevi April 26, 2011
    What a nice story, and how great to learn about a beloved recipe in Norwegian households.
    Author Comment
    fiveandspice April 26, 2011
    Thank you Bevi! It's fun to share it too! I love learning about traditions and sharing my own with others.
    drbabs April 26, 2011
    What a sweet story!
    Author Comment
    fiveandspice April 26, 2011
    Aw, thanks drbabs!
    student E. April 26, 2011
    love it! i used to eat these when visiting a dear friend in norway during the summer when i was teenager. how wonderful to see a recipe, as i have never seen or eaten them anywhere else!
    Author Comment
    fiveandspice April 26, 2011
    Thank you! All my memories of summers in Norway are totally full of waffles too. Hope you get a chance to try them again!
    mrslarkin April 26, 2011
    I really enjoy reading about everyone's journey to their chosen recipe. And yours is so lovely! Can't wait to make your waffles fiveandspice!
    Author Comment
    fiveandspice April 26, 2011
    Thank you mrslarkin! And I agree, it's absolutely a blast to be reading everyone's stories. I love the way it's helping me get to know everyone better.
    wssmom April 26, 2011
    Just beautiful, both the headnote, the sentiment, and the recipe. Thanks so much for sharing it!
    Author Comment
    fiveandspice April 26, 2011
    Thank you so much wssmom!