Belgium, a nation renowned for its gourmet culture, has tantalized tastebuds globally with its signature gastronomic delight – the waffle. Of the many varieties, the crown jewel is the Brussels waffle, distinct in its taste, texture, and toppings. This article will explore the unique appeal of Brussels waffles and their special place in the food scenes of Belgian cities like Ghent and Bruges.
The Exquisite Brussels Waffles
Brussels waffles are light, crisp, and larger than their counterparts. They are dusted with a light coat of powdered sugar, unlike the heavily-topped versions available elsewhere. The secret lies in the batter, a yeast-leavened mixture that gives these waffles their characteristic airy and fluffy texture.
The artistry of making a Brussels waffle lies in its well-defined square shape and deep pockets. These golden treats are usually adorned with a dusting of icing sugar, though some sweet-toothed foodies may prefer more indulgent toppings, such as strawberries, bananas, and whipped cream. Occasionally, the daring combination of savory ingredients graces the waffle, offering a surprising twist for adventurous eaters.
Waffle Varieties: Brussels Waffles vs. Liège Waffles
Although Belgian waffles is an umbrella term often used in the international scene, within Belgium, the main waffle distinctions are geographically named – Brussels and Liège. Unlike the Brussels waffle, the Liège waffle is smaller, denser, and has an elliptical shape. A distinct characteristic of Liège waffles is the inclusion of sugar pearls that caramelize on the surface during baking, lending a sweet, crispy finish.
Waffle Spots: A Foodie’s Dream
Belgium abounds with food trucks and waffle shops selling these sweet treats, contributing to the cities’ vibrant food culture. From street corners to upscale cafes, you’ll find waffles in all forms, from traditional to creatively topped versions. Food trucks, in particular, have taken the concept of waffles to another level. Parked across cities, they serve these warm delights fresh off the iron to both locals and tourists alike. Whether in Brussels, Ghent, or Bruges, these trucks are an essential part of the culinary landscape.
Belgian Waffles beyond Belgium
The love for Belgian waffles, specifically the Brussels waffle, is not confined to Belgium’s borders. Today, this iconic dish is a global phenomenon, featuring on breakfast menus and dessert stalls worldwide. You can often find them topped with a range of sweet options, including the Belgian classic chocolate spread and the popular Belgian biscuit spread, speculoos.
The Lure of Brussels Waffles
These airy treats, light as a feather yet incredibly crisp, were not always available at breakfast tables, waffle trucks, or even in the myriad waffle shops that now dot the streets of Ghent, Bruges, and other Belgian cities.
Their history dates back to the Middle Ages when waffles were a reserve for the aristocracy. It was only later, around the 18th century, that they found their way into the kitchens and hearts of the common folk. Today, they are a beloved treat not only in Brussels but also in other parts of the world.
Delight in Every Bite
Belgian waffles come in two main varieties: Brussels waffles and the Liege waffle. While the Liege waffle is smaller, denser, and sweeter, with large sugar pearls caramelized on its surface, the Brussels waffle is light, crisp, and usually served with a dusting of confectioner’s sugar.
From classic toppings like strawberries and whipped cream to the indulgent spread of Nutella or Belgian’s own Speculoos, the topping options are endless. One bite, and you’re hooked to its sweet, crispy allure.
Delicious Waffles in Brussels Under $10
Belgium’s capital, Brussels, is teeming with spots where you can enjoy delicious waffles without breaking the bank. For under $10, you can feast on Brussels’ airy, crispy waffles, lightly dusted with confectioners’ sugar, or topped with a variety of sweet additions. Look for waffle trucks or stalls around popular tourist spots, where these affordable delights are served hot off the iron.
Where to Find Vegan Waffles in Brussels
Navigating the waffle scene in Brussels as a vegan can seem daunting, but rest assured, there are plenty of options. Many waffle shops have started offering vegan versions of this classic treat, made without eggs or dairy but with the same lightness and crispiness that you expect from a traditional Brussels waffle.
Best Waffle Shops Near Grand Place, Brussels
The historic Grand Place in Brussels is surrounded by some of the city’s best waffle shops. The charming cobbled streets around the square are a haven for waffle lovers. Whether you prefer a simple waffle dusted with powdered sugar or a heavily-topped creation, you’ll find a waffle shop here that caters to your craving.
Crispy Belgian Waffles with Chocolate Sauce
Belgian waffles are known for their crispy exterior, and what better way to enjoy them than with a generous drizzle of chocolate sauce? The combination of the crisp waffle with the sweet, slightly bitter chocolate is a match made in dessert heaven.
Affordable Waffle Places in Brussels City Center
Brussels city center, known for its vibrant atmosphere, is also home to several affordable waffle places. From cozy cafes to bustling waffle trucks, you’ll find a variety of venues offering this traditional Belgian treat at a budget-friendly price.
Authentic Belgian Waffle Recipes
Want to recreate the magic of Belgian waffles at home? Authentic Belgian waffle recipes call for a few key ingredients like yeast and pearl sugar, and require a specific technique to achieve their characteristic lightness and crispiness. You can find some great recipes here.
Brussels Waffle History and Traditions
Brussels waffles have a rich history dating back to the Middle Ages. Once a luxury reserved for the aristocracy, these waffles became a common treat by the 18th century. Today, they’re a traditional food enjoyed during festivals and special occasions in Belgium.
Best Waffle Shops for Families in Brussels
Brussels is a city that loves its waffles, and there are plenty of family-friendly waffle shops where you and your little ones can enjoy these treats. These shops often have kid-friendly menu options and a comfortable atmosphere, perfect for a family day out.
Waffle Workshops in Brussels for Beginners
Did you know that you can learn how to make your own Brussels waffles? Several cooking schools and culinary centers in Brussels offer waffle-making workshops for beginners. It’s a fun and delicious way to learn more about Belgian culture.
Waffle Toppings: Fruit vs. Whipped Cream
When it comes to waffle toppings, there’s a long-standing debate between fruit lovers and whipped cream aficionados. Some prefer the fresh, slightly tart flavor of fruit to balance the sweetness of the waffle, while others love the rich creaminess of whipped cream. In Brussels, you can have the best of both worlds!
Whether you’re exploring the streets of Belgian cities or experimenting in your kitchen, a taste of the Brussels waffle is a must. The joy of biting into a warm waffle, with its crunchy exterior and soft, light interior, is an experience not to be missed. Enjoy it with a sprinkle of sugar or a heap of your favorite toppings – either way, the Brussels waffle is a culinary delight that captures the essence of Belgian gastronomy.