The success of Belgian cuisine in America never fails to surprise me. Don't get me wrong: I lived 12 years in Belgium, and my wife is Belgian, so I KNOW Belgian food is amazing. But the reason why a cuisine which is (wrongfully) ignored in the rest of Europe is so successful in America escapes me.
Now, In every restaurant in the States you will find "Belgian waffles" offered for breakfast. These are good, but they are what in Belgium are known as "Brussels waffles", i.e. the soft kind that you actually DO NOT eat for breakfast, and that you can find aplenty sold at the shops and cafes around the Grand Place in Brussels.
But there is another kind of waffles, which is actually more ubiquitous in Belgium, and yet seems to be unknown here in the US (although in New York there is a food truck selling just that), which is called "Gaufres de Liege", waffles from Liege. These are much thicker in texture, much tastier if you ask me, and have a sublime crunchiness due to the use of pearl sugar. Pearl sugar is actually what makes these little beasts amazing, although there is a trick in case you don't find it. (Read on).
These "waffles from Lieges" are often found at State fair, sold by yellow trucks.
This recipe is a treasure belonging to my wife's family (she is Belgian). You will not find it in books, and it is as authentic as it gets. So mark it down and just make it. You will need to prepare two different batters, which sounds like a lot of work, but it actually goes VERY fast. —tuscanfoodie
packages of active dry yeast
warm water (60ml)
all purpose flour (120g)
large egg beaten
warm milk (not boiling)
unsalted butter (130gr), at room temperature
of all purpose flour
of vanilla sugar (you can make your own by adding vanilla pods to normal sugar...) - optional
a pinch of salt
pearl sugar (100-120gr) (*read the last paragraph of the instructions if you can't find it)
Batter 1: dissolve the yeast in the warm water in a bowl, adding 1 tablespoon of flour and the sugar (NOT the pearl sugar, the regular one). Let it rest for a few minutes, until it foams.
Sift the remaining flour into a large bowl. Make a volcano crater in the center and add the yeast foamy mixture, the eggs and the milk. Mix everything together until you have a smooth batter. Cover it and let it rest until the batter has doubled or tripled in volume. This may take some time, depending on the temperature in your kitchen. Or you can take the shortcut (which is what we do, and the results are amazing): you heat an oven up to 150F -200F (70-100 C), turn it off, and then put the bowl in it, with the door closed. The batter will rise in 15 minutes...
Batter 2: mix the butter, the flour, the salt, the vanilla, the baking powder, the vanilla sugar, the cinnamon, the normal sugar, the pearl sugar until all the elements are well incorporated.
Incorporate Batter 2 into Batter 1 with your hands, until they form a well mixed single batter. Shape the dough into 10 balls and flatten them so that they have the same size of a slider burger. Dust the patties with flour.
Bake the balls in a waffle iron for 3-4 minutes, until they are golden brown (see photos). We have a 11$ waffle iron we bought at Target, and it works perfectly.
Put the waffles to cool on a rack and serve them either lukewarm or at room temperature. They will keep for a few days in a tipper ware, if - for some mysterious reasons - you will not devour them.
(*) Pearl sugar is used in many Belgian pastries. Its main feature is to remain crunchy after baking. You can find it on Amazon. If you don't find it, or want to make this recipe today, you can "make" your own pearl sugar by taking sugar cubes and crashing them in pieces of approximately the size of a pistachio. It won't be the same thing, but it won't be too far off. The important thing is not too crush the pieces too small.