Will it waffle?
That was the question Dan Shumski set out to answer when he launched a blog in 2010 called Waffleizer (waffleizer.com).
Over the course of the next eight months, Shumski "waffled" more than 30 unexpected dishes, ranging from macaroni and cheese and pizza to chocolate-chip cookies and cinnamon rolls.
Not all the projects worked as well as others, but Shumski, with the help of above-average cooking and photography skills, had enough success that last year he scored a book deal with Workman Publishing.
Shumski's waffle book isn't set to come out until next year, but there are plenty of recipes to share.
Waffle makers get a bad rap as being one-trick tools in the kitchen, and inspiring cooks to pull their forgotten machines out of the pantry was one of the reasons Shumski started the blog.
Chocolate-chip cookies were one of Shumski's favorite waffle iron creations.
"It's not more difficult (than baking in an oven), but the result is so transformative, plus you can make a few at a time," instead of a whole batch. (And, as a plus for those of us who don't turn on our ovens during the summer months, it's an alternative to baking that won't heat up the house.)
Shumski, who now has five waffle makers in his collection, says the key to cooking in a waffle maker is a willingness to experiment.
Eggs are a pretty easy entry to waffle-maker cooking. Sandwiches, maybe one with ham and Gruyere cheese, or quesadillas are some of the easiest things to press in a waffle maker just as you would in a panini press, but with the added advantage of even more surface area coming in contact with the bread or tortilla, adding to the crunch.
Another easy dish to make is cornbread waffles, which when paired with your favorite bucket of fried chicken and maybe a bottle of something pink and bubbly (see sidebar for suggestions) sounds like a great start to a picnic basket.
For a fun dessert or brunch dish, consider waffle brownie turned into a sundae with a scoop of ice cream on top and hot fudge.
Shumski says that waffled French toast is probably the safest waffle project because most of us already have a version that we make in a pan that is just as easy to press in a hot waffle maker.
He says the key is using slices of bread that are not too thick, otherwise they won't cook all the way through.
"This recipe should make it onto a lot of weekend breakfast tables," he writes. "Assuming you can wait that long."
Note: Addie Broyles of Cox Newspapers provided information and two recipes for this story. Other recipes were gathered and edited by News-Democrat Food Editor Suzanne Boyle.
Waffle Grilled Cheese
2 slices sourdough bread
1-2 tablespoons prepared mustard, mayonnaise or favorite spread
1/4 pound sharp Cheddar cheese, sliced thin
Spray your iron and let it warm. Spread mustard or other spread over both slices of bread. Layer cheese on one slice, place the other slice of bread atop. Press down to seal the fillings in place, then put carefully in the middle of the waffle iron. Close it as far as it will go, and use something heavy and non-flammable to keep the pressure on. Two minutes and it's done.
Waffle Cinnamon Rolls
1. Spray iron with nonstick cooking spray and heat to high.
2. Pop open a can of refrigerated cinnamon rolls and arrange on waffle iron.
3. Cook about 3 1/2 minutes.
4. Drizzle with icing after removing from waffle iron.
5. Be aware that you'll need to clean off your waffle iron well if you do a second batch- the filling in the buns stick to the plates.
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 sticks butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 1/2 tablespoons milk
In a bowl, melt butter and chocolate together in the microwave in 30 second bursts until both are melted. (The butter will melt first.) Stir and check chocolate after each burst.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the melted butter and chocolate with the sugar until well blended. Add the eggs, salt, vanilla, cinnamon and cocoa powder and mix thoroughly. Add the flour and mix well.
Preheat a waffle iron. Lightly spray with cooking spray.
If your waffle iron has a pattern of 4 waffles, place a large tablespoon of batter in the middle of each square. If it has a pattern of 2 waffles, place a tablespoon at the top and bottom of one square and repeated with the other.
Close cover and cook 1 1/2 to 2 minutes until they are done. Remove to wire rack and let cool completely.
When they have cooled, mix together the cocoa powder, confectioner's sugar, butter, and milk in a saucepan and stir and cook over low heat until melted and blended. Pour glaze onto a plate, and dip each of the waffle cookies gently into the glaze, just trying to cover the very tops. Sprinkle with confectioner's sugar, serve and enjoy.
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned or quick rolled oats (not instant)
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup butterscotch chips
Nonstick cooking spray
Start heating the waffle iron. Using a mixer, beat together the butter, sugar and eggs. Stir in the dry ingredients, adding the oats and chocolate chips last, after the flour has been worked in.
Scoop a ball of dough into each quadrant of the waffle iron. Close the waffle iron, and when the "ready" light comes on, they are ready. It takes just a couple of minutes -- very similar to what it takes to make a waffle.
-- Pdxfoodlove.com, from a recipe adapted slightly from Finecooking.com
Cake Mix Waffles
1. Spray and heat up your waffle iron.
2. Choose your favorite flavor of boxed cake mix and mix according to the directions.
3. Pour the batter onto each segment of the waffle iron. Check your manual for amounts and times. Cook about 3 minutes.
4. Put the finished waffles onto a cooling rack to cool, then enjoy.
5. Turn into ice cream sandwiches for a special dessert.
French Toast Waffles
3 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Dash of salt
6 slices bread (sandwich, challah or brioche work well)
Spray and heat waffle iron.
In a shallow container such as a pie plate, whisk together all ingredients except bread. Soak a slice of bread in the mixture, flipping the slice to make sure the bread absorbs the liquid thoroughly. Arrange slices on iron and cook until golden brown, about 15 minutes, though waffling time will vary depending on your waffle iron and heat setting. Serves 3.
-- Dan Shumski, Waffleizer.com blogger
Omelets cook very fast in a waffle maker. You can put anything you'd like in the eggs. Three to four eggs will work for a small waffle maker, and don't be surprised when the lid lifts up a little as the eggs puff up.
1/4 cup sliced green onions
2 tablespoons shredded cheese, such as Cheddar
Pinch salt and freshly ground pepper
Preheat the waffle maker and spray. Whisk together the ingredients in a small bowl and pour onto waffle iron. Close the lid and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Serves 1 to 2.
-- Addie Broyles, Cox Newspapers
Brownie Waffle Sundae
1. Preheat your waffle iron and spray.
2. Follow the mixing directions on any box of brownie mix.
3. Pour the batter into waffle iron and cook just like you would any other waffle.
4. Serve with a big scoop of your favorite ice cream and top with hot fudge, caramel, chocolate or your preferred gooey vice.
1 box of Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
3/4 cup milk
Preheat waffle iron. Spray hot waffle iron with butter flavored cooking spray.
Stir the ingredients together; batter will be a little lumpy. Pour mix into iron and cook until golden brown, or about 2 1/2 minutes.
Top warm waffle with chili and Cheddar cheese, if desired.
Makes 2 large Belgian waffles, or 4 servings.
Cheddar Cornbread Waffles
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
3 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk*
1 cup club soda (beer works, too)
1/3 cup canola oil
Sift together first 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Stir in cheese. Combine eggs and next 3 ingredients; gently stir into dry ingredients just until blended.
Spray waffle iron with cooking spray. Spoon batter onto preheated waffle iron. Cook 3-5 minutes or until crisp and done. Repeat with remaining batter.
Transfer waffles to a baking sheet, and keep warm, uncovered, in the oven at 200 degrees until ready to serve. Waffles can be frozen in zip-top freezer bags and reheated in oven or toaster oven. Makes 16 4-inch waffles.
Editor's note: Make your own buttermilk by measuring out 1 cup milk. Take out 1 tablespoon. Add 1 tablespoon white vinegar or lemon juice. Let stand 5 minutes and you've got buttermilk.
-- Southern Living