Leah and I were first officially introduced to Belgian liège waffles at a restaurant in Boston called Saus, which specializes in Belgian waffles and fries with a variety of sauces and toppings. It’s one of our favorite places to go, but when we aren’t at school there is a serious lack of these caramelized, crunchy, buttery beauties in our lives. We’d been pining after the recipe/homage posted on Smitten Kitchen for most of the summer and finally got around to making them during the last week of summer vacation.
These waffles are nothing like a frozen waffle, a diner-style Belgian waffle, or really any other sort of waffle that you’d normally find on a breakfast menu in the U.S. They’re made out of a rich brioche dough, which contains plenty of butter (!). After an overnight rest in the fridge, you fold in crunchy pearl sugar (we found ours at Whole Foods) and start cooking! We loved these hot off the waffle iron with just a dusting of powdered sugar, but a drizzle of nutella is also a fabulous addition. There’s nothing like these yeasted, decadent waffles…going back to regular waffles is going to be a downgrade! All waffles should have melted, caramelized, crunchy sugar in them.
P.S. Just a warning that caramelized/burnt sugar will inevitably end up stuck to your waffle iron. That’s ok…sugar is dissolved by water, so with enough elbow grease you’ll have a clean waffle iron again 🙂 It’s worth it!
Recipe from Smitten Kitchen
Makes 16 waffles
1/2 cup (120 ml) milk
1/4 cup (60 ml) water
2 tablespoons raw sugar, brown sugar or honey (we used brown sugar)
1 packet (7 grams or 2 1/2 teaspoons) active dry yeast
2 large eggs, at room temperature (running them briefly under warm water does the trick!)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 2/3 cups (460 grams) all-purpose flour, divided
1 teaspoon coarse or kosher salt
14 tablespoons (200 grams or 7 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/3 cups pearl sugar
Warm milk and water together to lukewarm approximately 110-116 degrees F, and place in the bottom of a large mixer bowl. Add sugar and yeast and combine. Set aside for 5 minutes until the yeast starts to foam.
Whisk in eggs and vanilla, then stir in all but 1 cup flour using a spoon or the dough hook of a stand mixer. Add the salt and combine. Using the dough hook of a stand mixer, add the butter, a spoonful at a time, thoroughly mixing in each addition and scraping down the bowl as needed before adding the next until all of the butter has been added. Add remaining flour and knead with dough hook on low speed for 5 minutes, or until glossy.
Now, the dough has to rise! Smitten Kitchen noted 2 ways to do this (we followed the fridge first method):
For room temperature first, cover bowl with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for 2 hours until the dough doubles. Stir with a spoon or spatula to deflate, re-cover with plastic wrap and let chill in the fridge overnight, or up to 24 hours.
For fridge first, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave it in the fridge overnight, or up to 24 hours. The dough will not look fully doubled when you take it out. Then, bring the dough back to room temperature for 1 hour, stir to deflate, and let rise again for another 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Next, knead in the pearl sugar. Divide dough into 16 pieces.
Heat your waffle iron over medium heat. Greasing it shouldn’t be necessary if your waffle iron is nonstick. Place the first ball of waffle dough on grid and cook according to waffle maker’s instructions. Cook until bronzed and caramelized, which will take 3-5 minutes, and then carefully transfer with tongs or a fork to a cooling rack. Repeat with remaining balls of dough, adjusting temperature of waffle iron as needed to get the color you want.
Keep waffles warm in a 200 degree oven if you plan to eat them immediately, while you cook the remaining waffles. The waffles will harden as they cool because of the melted sugar, so these are best served warm! Enjoy!