Pearl Sugar & the Liege Waffle: A story of sweet obsession

Liege Waffle w. Fresh Berries

Liege Waffle w. Fresh Berries

I have always been a waffle lover. I remember my mom making them for my friends the morning after slumber parties and as an adult, they remain a favorite of mine.

While nothing beats the beautiful simplicity of a buttermilk waffle with melted butter and real maple syrup, I have branched out quite a bit in the waffle department: gingerbread waffles, corn waffles with pork belly, waffles with berries soaked in vanilla rum. Heck, I even threw a Waffle Party once, a slightly crazy soiree filled with fruit curds, compound butters, whipped cream and lots of sparkling wine.

But, sadly, I didn’t discover the reigning ruler of waffles until a few years ago — the liege waffle, made with Belgian pearl sugar. The specialized pearl sugar is added to the unsweetened batter before cooking and melts in the waffle iron, creating crispy crunchy pockets throughout the waffle.

Belgian Pearl Sugar

Belgian Pearl Sugar

The sugar also caramelizes the entire outside of the waffle, making it sweet enough to eat on its own. In fact, these are a popular street food in Belgium where people often buy a waffle to snack on while they walk. The sweetness of the waffle negates the need to dress it up with messy toppings (though that’s part of the fun!) making it a great thing to eat on the go.

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Tales from the Garden: The first berry blush

My friend DB recently gave me some of his amazing strawberry plants since the starters I bought three years ago never produced a single berry. I was hopeful that his would be more successful and they are definitely off to a great start!

Strawberry ripening

One strawberry is already starting to ripen!

First berry blush

I’m so excited!

Brown butter makes everything better…

Brown Butter and Berry Tart

Brown Butter and Berry Tart

The past two weeks were absolutely beautiful here in the Pacific Northwest. While I was on vacation, temperatures soared to 80 degrees and the sun managed to stick around until yesterday. It was a wonderful mini-summer to tide us over until July, when things really heat up in Portland.

Sunshine immediately makes me crave berries which is how this Brown Butter Berry Tart became the finale for my family’s Mother’s Day dinner. The original recipe, courtesy of Bon Appetit, called for raspberries, but when I went shopping there was only one lonely container of fresh blackberries left on the shelf. Clearly everyone else in Tacoma had the same idea! (Happily my combination of blackberries and frozen blueberries worked just fine.)

Since I hadn’t seen my family in a month, I wanted to spend my spare time playing rummy with my mom and grandma, not slaving away in the kitchen. Luckily, besides being tasty, this tart is also amazingly simple to put together — though considering how ruthlessly my grandma beat us, perhaps I should have chosen a high-maintenance dessert instead. Then I could still have my dignity. *sigh*

Anyways, on to the sweet stuff —

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The Berry Best Spoonbread…

Mixed Berry Spoonbread

Mixed Berry Spoonbread Cake

The alternate title to this post was something along the lines of  “the amazingly delicious dessert I could make in my sleep.” It might have been a little wordy (and less punny) but it would’ve been entirely accurate. I have made Food & Wine’s Mixed Berry Spoonbread Cake for family reunions, barbeques, holidays and even (all by myself) for a crowd of 75-plus people at a kind-of-crazy pig roast last summer.

In fact, I had a different dessert all picked out for Easter Sunday (I wanted to try making this Blueberry Slump) but at the last minute, I changed my mind. I didn’t want to take the chance of it being ‘meh.’ Given the rather stressful week, I wanted to make something that I knew everyone would love — and so I turned to my old standby.

There are several reasons why this is my go -to dessert recipe:

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Very Berry Birthday Bliss

Made with love in Mormor’s Kitchen!

There are a few things that I can tell I directly inherited from my mother’s father. My grandfather, who instilled in me a lifelong love for cribbage and a tendency to whistle Red River Valley, also gave me his serious sweet tooth. While I tend to swing more in the tart sour candy territory, I will never turn down a cookie…or cupcake, milkshake or well, anything else. And neither will he. In fact, my stepdad often jokes that if you turn down dessert after dinner saying “I’ll have some later,” there is no guarantee that there will be any left by the time Papa is done.

He even keeps a stash of candy in his dresser drawer so that if the cookie jar in the kitchen ever runs low, he knows the next sugar fix is secure. And even though he hasn’t been able to see for years, he can identify numerous packages of sweets from the shape of the box alone. It’s uncanny — he is practically a chocolate whisperer.

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Let Them Eat Cake …for breakfast

Was It Worth It? Trying out magazine recipes so you don’t have to!

  • The Source: Bon Appetit September 2012
  • The Cook: Just me…with the “help” of one fluffy kitty
  • The Menu:  Old-fashioned blueberry coffee cake 
  • The Background: I’ve been on a bit of a baking kick lately. Since we’d had a break from scorching hot weather, it seemed like a great time to turn on the old oven. High off my success with blueberry baked oatmeal, I decided to try out another blueberry recipe and this one sounded too good to pass up.
  • The Beginning:

This should also be called: where I messed it all up.

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