The time has come to talk about Christmas. If any of you were reading this site a year ago (and if you were, I thank you from the bottom of my flour and butter-coated heart), you’ll recall that I tend to get rather excited about the holiday season. Things get sparkly. Kids get wiggly with anticipation. Eating cookies every single day becomes commonplace. My landy, what’s not to love?
Last year’s holiday recipe fest was a huge amount of fun for me to put together (and not just because I got to eat allllllll that stuff I made while testing out recipes), so I have decided that I will continue the tradition this year. This means that, for the entire month of December, I will be sharing recipes and kitchen-y things that are closely tied to the holiday season. There will be recipes for festive meals both morning and evening based, recipes for treats galore, and perhaps a few kitchen-based gift ideas sprinkled about here and there. But it’s happening, my friends. Christmas is about to explode all over this site. I am so excited, I can hardly stand it.
The holiday feasting kicks off with these spectacular waffles I made as an accompaniment for the heavenly apple cider syrup I wrote about for Portland Farmers Market. Looking for a breakfast-y companion to highlight all the best elements of the cider syrup, I turned to a winter and fall-spiced, barely-sweetened waffle with crisp edges, airy pockets, and the gentle flavor of unsweetened applesauce. As a breakfast treat, I don’t know if it gets any cozier than this, with the warm spices of the waffles playing off of the deep apple tones of the syrup. On their own, the syrup and the waffles can each hold their own, but together they form an alliance of superb deliciousness that will make any morning shine just a bit brighter.
Last Year: Roasted Portobello Mushroom Caps with Apple Pecan Stuffing and Caramelized Onion Mushroom Gravy–this dish is vegan, believe it or not, but universally adored by all.
Applesauce Waffles with Apple Cider Syrup
Apple Cider Syrup
The syrup will need to be made ahead of time, so plan accordingly.
1 or 2 quarts of unfiltered apple cider (the good and cloudy stuff that tastes like fresh apples, not the clear golden juice)
1/8 teaspoon to ¼ teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
Heat at least 1 quart, preferably 2 quarts (if you want to end up with more than a scant cup of syrup) of fresh, unfiltered apple cider in a large pot over high heat. When the cider begins to boil, reduce the heat to medium and allow the cider to boil constantly until it reduces by about 80% and becomes a thick, syrupy liquid. This process can take anywhere from 25 to 45 minutes, depending on how much cider you are using and how high the heat under the pot. You’ll know the syrup is ready when a spatula scraped across the floor of the pot leaves a clear trail that remains open for a second or two before the syrup runs together again. At this point, you can whisk in a bit of cinnamon to taste (add as much cinnamon as you want, really), then either use the syrup immediately or pour it into a jar to cool.
When cooled, the syrup will become slightly gelatinous, due to the natural pectin content in the apples. The thicker you boil the syrup, the more firm the finished product will be when cooled. You can simply reheat the syrup in the microwave or on the stove top to return the syrup to its thick and syrupy state. Keep the syrup refrigerated when not in use.
1 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of allspice
2 large eggs, yolks and whites separated
1 cup milk
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled just a bit
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, and spices. In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks, milk, applesauce, and melted butter. In yet another bowl (sorry, but you do really need to use three separate bowls), whip the egg whites until they just form stiff peaks.
Gently stir the milk mixture into the flour mixture, stirring enough to just barely combine everything. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter, being careful not to overmix. There should still be a few streaks of egg white visible, just to make sure you don’t overwork the batter.
Spoon waffle batter onto your preheated waffle iron, and cook according to waffle maker’s directions.
The number of waffles you end up with will depend on the size of your waffle maker. Serve with warm apple sider syrup.