Monday, July 22, 2013

Brown Butter Waffles

A lazy morning favorite in my home. It always begins with the Joy of Cooking as a reference (even though I've just about memorized the recipe, it's reassuring to confirm my memory).

When in doubt, use an entire stick of butter. Let it melt slowly on low heat.

Let it cook until it begins to brown - a result of the Maillard Reaction! Once it's starts to brown, the Maillard reaction seems to accelerate as the butter darkens surprisingly quick. I usually turn off the heat as soon as I see it starting to brown, because it will continue to brown even as it cools slightly. Here it started to brown even before all the butter was melted, which turned out to be rather convenient because I could use the unmelted butter to help cool the quickly browning butter even faster than if I had just turned off the heat.

Fully melted brown butter:

A Buttery Digression: When you purchase a stick of butter, it's a smooth emulsion of fat, water, protein, and lactose (roughly 80% fat, 15% water). When you apply heat, it's incredibly easy to break this emulsion - meaning the fat and water separate and the protein and lactose clump together and fall out of solution. Clarified butter (a.k.a. ghee) is just butter that has been lightly heated such that the water evaporates and the proteins and lactose clump together so they can be easily strained out. Clarified butter is pure milk fat. Brown butter cooks a little bit longer than clarified butter until the lactose reacts with the proteins to form delicious little nutty brown flecks.

More on the Maillard Reaction: It's a redox reaction! Lactose is oxidized (gives up a proton) while an amino acid is reduced (accepts the proton) to form any of several aromatic, ring-shaped, compounds (i.e. pyrroles, pyridines, pyrazines, thiophenes, thiazoles, and oxazoles). These aromatic compounds stimulate our taste and smell receptors resulting in a delicious response!

And now, back to the waffles...

Combine the wet things:
1 1/2 cups whole milk
3 eggs
drizzle molasses
browned butter

Combine the dry things:
1 1/2 cups flour
1 Tbsp Sugar
1 Tbsp Baking Powder
pinch salt

I generally use white flour, but you could easily substitute any flour of your wildest dreams! At some point during the preparation of the batter I plug in my trusty vintage 1940's cast iron waffle iron (it takes a while to warm up).

When the iron is hot, I whisk together the wet things and the dry things to make the waffle batter.

Butter the iron and apply the batter!

The set up:

Butter, waffle iron, batter, and of course - a cup of coffee

The perfect waffle.

...I love watching it cook!

Everything stays warm in the oven!

What happens from here is up to you. Waffles make great companions with any of theses toppings:

Maple Syrup
Peanut Butter (or any nut butter)
Fresh Fruit
Fresh fruit cooked with butter and sugar (a la Bananas Foster)
Cinnamon & Sugar

Waffles also make an excellent substitute for bread - they can be toasted, used to make sandwiches (especially breakfast sandwiches!), or my new favorite - battered and pan-fried to make waffle-french-toast!

Waffle with chicken, fried egg, and cole slaw

Making waffle french toast

Waffle french toast mini sandwich with...
Heirloom Tomato
Green Onion

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