Unforgettable Belgian Waffles: History and Recipe

The first time I ever met a “Belgian Waffle” was at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York, which opened almost 55 years ago, on April 22, 1964.  What I didn’t realize then was that this Belgian dish, developed by Maurice and Rose Vermersch for the fair—sizzled at 500°F. in cast-iron waffle makers and selling up to 2,500 per day for $0.99—would sweep America as a nationwide sensation!  For those of you born after 1970, I’ll bet you thought Belgian waffles always existed, right? As I recall, they were served at the World’s Fair with powered sugar, fresh, sliced strawberries, and whipped cream, but no maple syrup. I usually serve them with syrup and bacon or sausage on the side, but suit yourself! Alan and I enjoyed similar waffles last summer at the Vatnahalsen Hotell in Norway after a ride through the mountains along the fjords on the Flam Railroad. (I doubt they call them “Belgian” waffles there! Maybe “Norwegian?”)At any rate, in Norway, we were given waffles and allowed to serve ourselves from two mammoth bowls: one with fresh, whipped cream and the other filled with a fantastic raspberry puree. Unforgettably, mouth-wateringly delicious!On cruise ships, waffles are often a staple, and you can crown them with various toppings, such as bananas foster, strawberry compote, fresh berries, etc!A breakfast of Belgian waffles is a great favorite at our house, and I try to serve them at least once any time our kids and grand kids visit (which happened last week when some of our kids were home for spring break). Despite the fact that I make them very often, they go so fast, and are in such high demand, that it’s almost impossible to get any good photos before they’re being devoured! If you haven’t made them yet, here’s one excellent recipe:

Belgian Waffles
(Makes about 8  five-inch waffles)

1. In mixing bowl, add:
2 cups sifted flour
3/4 cup white, granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda

2. Mix together slowly, then add:
1.5 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs (you’re supposed to separate them and whip the whites separately, adding at the end; this makes the waffles fluffier, but if you’re in a hurry and don’t mind the loss of light texture, you can just add the yolks and whites together here)
1 cup melted butter (I actually only use a half a cup, because I think it’s too rich and fattening, but suit yourself! If you use a half a cup, then add another 1/2 cup milk above, making it 2 cups of milk.) Whip until completely uniform.

If I’m really in a hurry, I use:
2 cups Aunt Jemima Buttermilk pancake mix
1.5 cups milk
2 eggs
1/2 cup melted butter

This second recipe doesn’t melt in your mouth the way the other one does, but I don’t think our kids take time to let them melt anyway!  🙂

3. Regardless of how you make the batter, crisp the waffles in a preheated waffle maker until golden brown, then serve with generous supplies of:

*Fresh, sliced strawberries (or whatever else you have; in the winter we’ve even used cherry or blueberry pie filling)
*Syrup (or powdered sugar; our kids prefer syrup)
*Whipped cream

*And, of course, serve with lots of coffee, tea, and/or milk

O Lord my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever” (Psalm 30:12).

P.S.—Alan and I now have a son living in Belgium. I’ll have to ask him if Belgian waffles taste even better there  . . .