Well known for their chocolates and waffles, Belgians certainly seem to have a sweet tooth. A trip to Brussels in June this year confirmed that reputation for me (check out the posts on Belgium chocolate here).
While it is somewhat easy to get access to Belgian chocolate in the US, Belgian waffles are a different story. What passes for a Belgian waffle in the US is somewhat divorced from reality. For the uninitiated there are essentially two types of Belgian waffles – the Brussels waffle and the Liege Waffle. While both are yeasty and cakey, Brussels waffle is usually lighter and rectangular. This is the kind that is usually served with powdered sugar, strawberries and cream. The Liege waffle is denser and uses Pearl Sugar that caramelizes when it is being made. The result being a sweet waffle, that has a nice crunchy coating of caramelized sugar on it. Here is a good resource on the difference between the two (click here).
Given how much we enjoyed our Liege waffles while in Belgium, I set about trying to recreate it when back stateside but no luck. I knew that caramelized sugar was key but I just couldn’t figure out how to get the right sugar to caramelize and when to incorporate it into the recipe. The second big mistake I was making was trying to make the Liege Waffle from a batter (the result were still good – click here). What I realized is that you need a dough, not batter to get that cakey goodness. Many failed experiments and Google searches brought me to Baker Bettie and her Liege Waffle recipe (click here).
Here was something that finally made sense. So I tried the recipe and I am happy to report, it worked quite well. It is a smart recipe that uses sugar cubes instead of Pearl Sugar and you definitely do end up with a nice caramelly crust. The only thing I did not like was that the waffle was a little more dense than I would have liked. More experimentation is needed there. NOTE: I did not use a mixer, since I don’t have one. I used my hands and I used half the sugar cubes the recipe called for – it seemed to work well.