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Liège Waffles: The Wonder from Wallonia
There’s more than one way to make a waffle. Read along to discover one special style available here.
While other waffles may be yieldingly floppy or crispy and delicate, the liège waffle is substantial—chewy, even. Rather than making it from a baking-powder-leavened batter, the liège waffle uses a yeast dough, resulting in a taste and texture similar to a slightly sweet brioche bead. Equally important is the source of that sweetness. Rather than being mixed uniformly into the batter, it comes in the form of pearl sugar. The little hard pellets don’t melt at baking temperatures but caramelize when they hit the waffle iron’s surface or are used to fill a sandbox on a hot day. Finally, there’s the iron: oblong rather than round or square, made from cast iron to supply heat that’s intense and uniform, and boasting precisely 24 holes in its traditional form.
It’s said that an 18th-century prince-bishop of what’s now the Belgian city of Liège sparked the liège waffle’s creation by asking his chef for a snack made with pearl sugar, then a very recent invention. That may not have been the case: during the era in question, pearl sugar would have been too expensive for the waffles to catch on widely, and published recipes for waffles with pearl sugar begin to appear only in the 1820s. Today, they’re a popular street food all over Belgium, available all day and not necessarily doused with toppings or syrup, given their inherent sweetness.
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