Monthly Archives: April 2013

Waffles!

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Waffles are a really, really old food.  So old, that there is reference to them in Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales the 14th Century!   Puritans, fleeing English persecution, stayed for a bit in Belgium and brought the waffle to colonies.    Thomas Jefferson, according to legend, brought a waffle maker from France and threw lavish waffle parties.    Who doesn’t love a good waffle?

I really, really love waffles. When I was a kid (and there were only 3 channels on the tv), all we had were pancakes. Waffles were restaurant type food. Fancy stuff, not something mom would just make for breakfast. Even though pancakes are made with essentially the same batter, the batter was transformed into something special on the waffle iron. Crunchy, yet tender. Somehow always sweeter.

In 2009, Kellogg’s put out a press release saying it would have to ration its Eggo Waffles due to a flooded plant in Atlanta and issues with a bakery in Tennessee.  This shortage was a really big deal at the time.   There were panicked consumers stocking up just like when Hostess recently shuttered it factories. I should confess,  I have a hard time understanding why one would pay for a frozen waffle.  They don’t taste particularly good and are insanely expensive, given the ingredients (ingredients listed are for Eggo’s Homestyle Waffles):

Enriched flour (wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, vitamin B1 [thiamin mononitrate], vitamin B2 [riboflavin], folic acid), water, vegetable oil (soybean, palm, and/or canola oil), eggs, leavening (baking soda, sodium aluminum phosphate, monocalcium phosphate), contains 2% or less of sugar, salt, whey, soy lecithin, yellow 5, yellow 6.

Vitamins and Minerals:  Calcium carbonate, vitamin A palmitate, reduced iron, niacinamide, vitamin B12, vitamin B6 (pyridoxine hydrochloride), vitamin B1 (thiamin hydrochloride), vitamin B2 (riboflavin).

I think the normal price is about $2.50 per 10 ounce package.  The organic brand (Van’s) is $3.50 per 8 ounce package.  The ingredients aren’t really much different:

Water, Organic Whole Wheat Flour, Organic Unbleached Wheat Flour, Organic Soybean Oil, Organic Oat Fiber, Organic Cane Sugar, Baking Powder (Baking Soda, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Monocalcium Phosphate), Organic Cornstarch, Organic Malt Extract, Sea Salt, Organic Soy Lecithin, Organic Guar Gum, Organic Caramel Color.

I’m not sure how I acquired my first waffle iron.  I just remember buying a box of frozen waffles and thinking how EXPENSIVE they were.  And I had to buy 2 boxes for just the weekdays.  I decided to buy a waffle iron and try it out.  It was so easy!  My kids pretty much eat waffles every day for breakfast. I make them on the weekend, freeze them, and toast them all week.  It’s really not that hard and makes my mornings SO easy.  I make eggs or reheat sausage made the night before and toast the waffle.  Viola!  Breakfast. Of course, my kids now think pancakes are a special treat!  The ingredients I use are organic or pastured and I don’t need guar gum and colors to make them look good.  And, the fat in the recipe is butter versus soybean/vegetable oil.  Needless to say, they are a lot cheaper!

Waffles require a gentle touch.  The key is bubble maintenance.   A good waffle recipe has two methods to infuse bubbles into the batter.  One is through chemistry.  The combination of an acid and a base (usually baking powder, which is activated by liquid).  The other is through the whipping of the egg whites.  I will confess that I have skipped the egg white whipping portion of the recipe and just tossed the eggs in there and really, saw no appreciable difference.  I’m serving a 7 and a 10 year old.  Not Gordon Ramsey.   So, when you get to that part of the recipe, understand that you can take a short cut.  Also, I have substituted Whole White Wheat flour from King Arthur Flour for the All Purpose Flour and no one seemed to notice.

Chocolate Chip Waffles

1 3/4 cups of all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
3 eggs, separated
1 3/4 cups of milk
6 tablespoons of butter, melted and cooled
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups chocolate chips (I use 60% cacao)

Preheat waffle iron.

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Whisk until aerated and well combined. In a separate bowl, whisk together milk, butter and vanilla. Slowly add the wet mixture to the flour mixture and stir just until the flour mixture is moistened.

In a mixing bowl, beat egg whites until they hold firm peaks.

Fold the egg whites into the now moistened flour mixture until just combined.  Gently fold in the chocolate chips.

Spray the waffle iron with a spray oil (I use coconut) and then follow your waffle iron’s instructions.  I freeze the leftovers in a freezer bag and enjoy the rest of the week.

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Joys

The Peter Paul Company introduced the Mounds bar in 1920, and its “sister” candy Almond Joy in 1946. Mounds is a really old, but beloved, candy bar, a coconut confection enrobed in dark chocolate. The Peter Paul company changed hands a variety of times and is now owned by the Hershey Company. My kids adore these candy bars, although they love the Mounds more. They aren’t wild about the almond.

One day I reviewed the ingredients for the Mounds (source: Hershey’s website: http://www.thehersheycompany.com/brands/mounds-bars/bar.aspx):

CORN SYRUP; SEMI-SWEET CHOCOLATE (CHOCOLATE; SUGAR; COCOA; MILK FAT; COCOA BUTTER; SOY LECITHIN; PGPR, EMULSIFIER) ; COCONUT; SUGAR; SALT; NATURAL & ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR; HYDROLYZED MILK PROTEIN; SODIUM METABISULFITE, TO MAINTAIN FRESHNESS; SULFUR DIOXIDE, TO MAINTAIN FRESHNESS; CARAMEL COLOR; MILK

Um, wow.

So, I looked around the internet to see if there is a more simple recipe.  Joy the Baker had a great one (http://joythebaker.com/2010/10/homemade-almond-joy/) that I was able to adapt.  My kids loved making the Almond Joys, but didn’t want the almonds.  In fact, one burst into tears about the addition of almonds.  She wanted to know if we could just make Joys.  I tried to tell her that the candy without almonds is called “Mounds”, but that “sounded gross”.  So, we call them Joys.  Almond Joys without the Almonds.

Joys
7 ounces sweetened condensed milk
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
pinch of salt
2 1/2 cups unsweetened flaked coconut
about 20 ounces (a bag and a half) of good quality bittersweet (60% Cocoa) chocolate chips

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Combine milk, sugar, vanilla extract and salt in a medium bowl.

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Add the coconut.  At this point, the mixture is the sticky mess you see above.  Cover with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for about 30 minutes.  The freezer firms the mixture up a bit and makes is easier to work with.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Remove the mixture from the freezer and with clean hands, shape coconut mixture into tight logs or “mounds”.   They need to be rather hearty, as we are going to be dipping them in chocolate.  If the mixture becomes too soft during the log making, stick it back in the freezer.  Place the logs onto the lined baking sheet.

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Place the baking sheet in the fridge.

Now, I could tell you to whip out your double boiler and gently stir the chocolate until melted.  I could.  But that’s not how I do it.  I stick the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and over low power, and nuke it until  just melted.  You have to actually stir the chocolate to check the level of melt (this is the best way I know to describe it.  Seriously, you can look at the bowl and all the chips look fine and then stir it and the chips are all melted), because chocolate chips will hold their shape even if completely melted through.  Once your chips are melted, allow the chocolate to cool slightly.  Remove your baking sheet from the fridge.  Place a log on a fork and coat with the chocolate using a spoon and return the covered log to the baking sheet.  Repeat until all logs are covered.

Return baking sheet to the fridge until the “Joys” firmed up and the chocolate is solid.    I store mine in the fridge.  The kids love them, to quote “these are awesome”!

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