The first time I ever had true Belgian waffles was in old Quebec City at this little storefront waffle place. That’s the only way I can describe it. All that was inside was a counter with stools. If we were lucky enough to find a seat, then we’d sit down. Most mornings on our trip there, we’d order them and take them with us. Most Belgian waffles call for a teaspoon of vanilla extract, but I prefer real vanilla bean. The taste is more intense, and I’m big on vanilla flavor. Generally speaking, you need about two inches of vanilla bean to replace a teaspoon of vanilla extract, but I like to use a half of a vanilla bean. I also prefer Demerara sugar to regular white sugar because of its caramel notes.
Vanilla beans are easy to use. Just start at the top and poke a hole, then slice down the middle and scrape the beans out. The beans, which are very small, do not need to be mashed. They will adhere to the knife you are using. That’s all you need to do. It isn’t rocket science. Of course, you can always use 1 tsp of vanilla extract instead. The choice is yours.
2 cups of all-purpose flour
3/4 cup Demerara sugar (white is fine here also)
3-1/2 tsp baking powder
2 large eggs, separated
1-1/2 cups milk
1 cup butter, melted
1/2 vanilla bean, opened and the beans scraped out (do not do this in advance)
Combine flour, sugar and baking powder in a bowl.
In a separate bowl, lightly beat egg yolks, then add milk, butter and the vanilla beans. Mix this concoction well, and do not panic if the butter appears to look lumpy after it is melted and added to the milk. This is not a problem.
Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Do not use an electric mixer. You do not want to over beat the batter.
Use an electric beater to beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Then fold the egg whites into the batter.
Bake waffles in a preheated waffle iron, according to manufacturer’s instructions, until golden brown. I have a non-stick waffle iron, but I generally spray it with Pam anyway to prevent the first batch from sticking. You’ll probably get about 10 waffles from this batter.
There are any number of ways to serve Belgian waffles. Of course, the way my kids like them is with warm maple syrup. However, you can serve them with confectioner’s sugar, or with berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries) and whipped cream. These also make a great ice cream sandwich. Use your imagination, folks!