Liege-style caramel apple waffles

Years ago, I saw an episode of Rachael Ray's 30-minute meals where she made "Liége-style" waffles (pronounced lyehzh). Although they're named after the Belgian city and served all over the country, these are not to be confused with Belgian waffles!

Liége waffles have Belgian pearl sugar mixed the yeasted, buttery dough. The chunks of sugar melt and caramelize. Belgian pearl sugar being hard to come by on this side of the Atlantic, Rachael recommended using cube sugar that you've roughly crushed. I made these waffles a couple times, but cleaning up the iron afterwards was a pain!

Fast-forward seven years, and my family found a local food truck, Waffle Love. We finally got to try more authentic Liége waffles. And they were A. MAZE. ING.

So for Christmas, my husband got me a rotating waffle iron and two pounds of imported Belgian pearl sugar. And for his birthday, my son requested those special waffles, so my husband looked up a real recipe of the buttery, yeasted-dough goodness. We picked the Liége "sugar" waffles recipe from The Whipped Blog, which actually comes from this Liége waffle squidoo.

This is not a 30-minute meal.

After an hour, maybe more, the dough was finally ready. And it really is more of a dough than a batter, and like any good homemade waffle, it contains two sticks of melted butter. My dough was a little too wet to make 2" balls, so I scooped just over 1/4 cup into the iron. The new circular iron wasn't exactly a good fit: the quarter-circles weren't really big enough. But I could fit one waffle on each half (as opposed to one 4" waffle prepared on a square iron). But no matter!

Once they were finally cooking, I encountered a new problem: what to put on top. Although the pearl sugar is the only sweetener, Liége waffles are so sweet that you really don't need syrup. At our beloved waffle truck, they offer such amazing toppings as Nutella, fresh strawberries, fresh raspberries, fresh peaches, Biscoff spread, bananas and whipped cream.

We had none of that. This is really something we should've thought about before they came out of the iron. Or went in.

We quickly scanned our day-before-grocery-shopping kitchen and pantry and fridge. Finally, inspiration struck. I diced up an apple and sprinkled it with cinnamon & sugar, dug out some Reddi-Whip and caramel ice cream sauce (not as good as this caramel sauce!), and voila, as they'd say in Liége.

Caramel apple Liége waffles

I'm not sure what kind of waffle maker the testers used, but on mine, they did best for 3:30 at level 4.5 ish. At level 3, the sugar didn't melt enough and the waffle was kinda spongey.

And what's the verdict over the 30-minute version? These are so much better! However, I'm not sure the pearl sugar is worth the expense vs crushing your own sugar cubes.

But cleaning the iron? Still a pain.

Recipe (as I made it)
  • 1 (1/4 ounce) package yeast (2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast)
  • 1/3 cup lukewarm water (about 105 degF - too hot will kill the yeast)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated white sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
  • 1 cup Belgian pearl sugar*
Mix the yeast, water and sugar in a small bowl and let it develop or sit for 15 minutes.

Place the flour in a separate mixing bowl and make a well in the center of the flour (I used the smaller bowl on my stand mixer). Sprinkle with salt.

Pour the yeast mixture into the well and mix until blended on medium speed. It will be VERY dry--in fact, it's like pie crust dough before you add the water.

Add the eggs (one at a time), melted butter a bit at a time, and the vanilla and cinnamon. Be sure to mix well after each addition to the batter. Keep in mind the batter will be thick and VERY sticky.

Remove the bowl from the mixer and let the dough rest until it doubles in volume inside the bowl.

Gently fold in the pearl sugar and let the dough rest for 15 more minutes.

While the dough is resting, heat the waffle iron.

Drop about 1/4 cup of dough into the center of the waffle iron. Waffles will take 3 to 5 minutes to bake. Mine were best for about 3:30 minutes on level 4.5 (out of ten).

Recipe makes 8 - 10 waffles.


Just Jaime said...

YUM! These sound great! And now I have some new knowledge about sugar.

Diana said...

So were they worth it? They look good!

Kim said...

These are super tasty! In when I did my study abroad in London they had shops dedicated to these (like we have here for frozen yogurt or cupcakes).

I usually had them plain (which meant with just a little powdered sugar... as if they needed more.) But they are also fabulous with nutella!

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