Saturday, 5 July 2014

Gaufres de Bruxelles (Waffles!) with Choc Cherry Beer Ice Cream, WCFC 2014: Belgium

This was the first dish I thought of doing when I realised that I had Belgium as one of my teams for the World Cup Food Challenge (well, apart from the ice cream!).  I have avoided doing them for a couple of reasons:
I don't own a waffle iron and I don't want to get mired in the waffle argument!  Oh well, too late for that now!  I borrowed a waffle iron from a friend (completely the wrong shape for a Brussels waffle) and got stuck into the great waffle debate.

The main problem seems to be the Americans, i'm sure this was one of the reasons Belgium had to make sure they beat the USA in the last round!  The Americans have something called the 'Belgian Waffle' which contains baking powder (call the waffle cops!), traditional waffles contain yeast.  However, before the Belgians get too indignant (scoffing aplenty found in my research!) they should remember that this type of waffle was introduced to America via (wait for it) a Belgian!  Maurice Vermersch of Brussels sold something called a 'Bel-Gem' waffle in the late 1950's-early 1960's in America, most influentially at the World Fair in New York in 1964.  Rumour has it that Vermersch used this name for his adapted Brussels waffle because most Americans couldn't identify Brussels as the capitol of Belgium (no comment!). 

Waffles made with baking powder have found their way back to Belgium and are sold in the various waffle chain restaurants mainly due to the simplified and quicker manufacturing process.  The waffle recipe I have used is a traditional yeast waffle.  Having established that yeast was the authentic route, I then had to decide between a Gaufre de Liege or a Gaufre de Bruxelles!  I loved the look of both of them, however, there was one deciding factor.  For the Liege waffle you need pearl sugar in the batter which caramelises during the cooking process and gives a wonderful dark colour to the waffle.  I went shopping to try and buy some but had no luck so the Brussels version won by default!

I found so many variations for 'authentic' Brussels waffles but in the end decided to go with this recipe from 'The Hungry Belgian' blog.  What clinched it for me?  After the title of the recipe are these magical words 'from grandma's handwritten recipe booklet'!  It doesn't get better than that!  I'm not going to publish the recipe here because I followed it exactly, including the sparkling water to give extra boost to the batter!  However, I've just realised that this recipe includes self-raising flour so may inadvertently contain baking powder!  I told you I didn't want to get embroiled in the great waffle debate!  Oh well, follow the link above for the recipe as they were delicious!  Fingers crossed on the authenticity!

Now, the ice cream!  I had a bottle of cherry beer leftover from the Eggs Gambrinus recipe and thought it would be nice to create an ice cream using it to go with these waffles.  I also wanted an opportunity to use some good quality Belgian chocolate (if they go out tonight and I haven't used Belgian chocolate it just wouldn't be right!).  So here we have my recipe for a belter of an ice cream; chocolate, cherry and beer!  If you can find the part to attach the paddle of your ice cream maker to the maker itself then you'll get an even better texture to your ice cream!

Choc Cherry Beer Ice Cream


375ml bottle of Belgian Cherry Beer (I used Bacchus Kriekenbier)
100g Belgian Chocolate
300ml Double Cream
397g tin of Condensed Milk


1.  Pour beer into a pan and place on a high heat.  Boil until it reduces from 375ml to 150ml.  Set aside to cool.
2.  In a separate pan, place the double cream and chocolate and gently heat until the chocolate melts into the cream.  Remove from heat.
3.  Add the condensed milk and cooled beer to the chocolate cream and stir or whisk together until thoroughly combined.
4.  Pour mixture into ice cream machine or place in freezer, going back to stir occasionally until frozen. 

This ice cream is delicious; the beer lends not just a pleasing cherry hit but also a slight bitter note to contrast with the sweet condensed milk.  The chocolate is rich and decadent making this an ice cream which ticks all the boxes!

The waffles were delicious but not entirely correct due to the waffle machine.  It didn't get as hot as is needed for the perfect waffle so they are not as deep a colour as I wanted. The indentations were also too shallow for the perfect Brussels waffles so they are a bit thinner than is ideal.  Having said that, I'd happily eat them all day!  I think I'll have to invest in a good quality waffle iron as the Silvercrest one my mate bought from Aldi didn't really cut it!

If the Belgians lose to Argentina tonight then this will be my last recipe for the challenge.  I have learned so much from taking part in this and had great fun.  There are still issues I need to clarify (including the authentic Brussels waffle recipe!) but I think it is sometimes too easy to get caught up in the authenticity/food snobbery type debates when all we should really be asking is 'does it taste any good?'!  This tastes bloody delicious so I think i'll leave it at that!  Cheers,


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