Given a choice, a Belgian waffle is my preferred weekend breakfast every time. I've never been one for those decadent Sunday brunch buffets because I'm happiest with a thick crispy waffle, a little butter and some genuine maple syrup. A little side note - have you noticed the price of real maple syrup these days? Its cost per fluid ounce is comparable to certain prescription cough medicines that have a street value! Not that I'd know or anything.
A few years ago, I discovered Belgian waffle Fridays at the staff cafeteria. If you went over for breakfast before 9 am, you would find a little station set up with a flip waffle maker, and paper cups full of pre-measured waffle batter lined up like little soldiers. Just rock up, pour your batter onto the waffle iron, flip it over, wait for the beep and viola - a piping hot belgian waffle for about $2.50 or so. This made me inordinately happy, but unfortunately I do not work there anymore.
Wanting to replicate the experience at home, I asked Santa for a flip waffle iron that first year. But D (Santa's not-so-little helper) was slightly bitter about the waffle iron we already owned that had been used exactly three times. I think he told Santa that it was patently ridiculous for me to have TWO waffle makers I didn't use, so sadly, no flip waffle iron for me that year. What Santa and D failed to realize is that the existing waffle maker produced only anemic, soggy little waffles that were nothing like the deep, crispy Belgian numbers that I craved. The effort of stirring up the batter and then slaving over that waffle iron 1/4 cup of batter at a time to produce these shadows of what a waffle ought to be was just too much to bear.
Each Christmas, I persisted with a request for a flip waffle maker, only to be disappointed again. So this year, I scoped out a black Friday deal that provided a 75% discount, which when combined with a tax deduction for a barely used waffle iron donated to Goodwill, made me the proud owner of a flip waffle maker for less than the cost of a fast food breakfast for two.
And, interweb, that was the best $7 I've ever spent on a kitchen gadget. I have enjoyed a thick, crispy, maple syrup soaked Belgian waffle every weekend and holiday morning this month. It is such a cinch that I intend indulging this habit unchecked for quite some time (and maybe for a few week-night dinners here and there). The secret is using a pre-made pancake mix labeled 'complete' meaning you add nothing but water (no eggs). This allows one to whip up only enough batter for a single waffle. It is brilliant - in the time it takes to preheat the waffle maker, I stir up the batter, and in the three minutes it takes to cook the waffle, I clean up the bowl and tidy everything away. Then I dig into a luscious maple delight for which I would have happily paid IHOP the cost of the actual waffle iron to enjoy just once.
I think this might be the best Christmas gift that wasn't ever given to me. Santa and D - eat your heart out... or maybe just have one of my delicious crispy waffles and admit the error of your ways.