Sunday, November 30, 2008

Pumpkin Pie Waffles

Williams Sonoma is one of my “happy places”. I have several…New York, Barnes and Noble, Target…any place where I can spend literally hours in peaceful contentment (or in this case, until the salespeople politely tell me they are closing and my husband has to drag me away from the Breville Panini Press I’ve been coveting).

One of my favorite things about Williams Sonoma is their handy-dandy recipe cards. I usually spend about the first 10 minutes of my trip picking up every recipe in sight, while the salespeople wonder "who is this strange girl and is she ever going to actually buy anything". I would gladly spend my whole paycheck in their store. Unfortunately, my husband and I have differing opinions on this subject--I believe that fancy cheese graters, vegetable choppers and espresso machines are necessities. Husband does not. But I digress...

Throughout my window-shopping I’ve collected numerous recipes that I am dying to try—everything from Grilled Ham and Cheese Biscuits to Shepherd’s Pie with a Stilton Cheese Crust. YUM. Though undoubtedly delicious, they are also slightly intimidating--lots of fancy-schmancy ingredients and whatnot (I'm still a beginner, here). So in an effort to avoid complete disaster, I chose my first attempt carefully.

The occasion: Thanksgiving morning.
The guinea pigs: My family, always willing test subjects.
The recipe: Pumpkin Pie Waffles (this is starting to sound like a game of Clue--it was Courtney in the kitchen with the waffle iron!).

The verdict: They were a little more time consuming than I anticipated but WELL worth the effort. The texture was almost like a warm custard--gooey and delicious. I was actually expecting a light and crisp waffle, but the pumpkin gives the batter more density. They are definitely smooth and filling.

A few things to keep in mind: 1. Measure all of the dry ingredients the night before and save some prep time (it took me a long time to make the batter--lots of sugars, spices, etc.). 2. With most waffle irons, you can only make one at a time. This is great if you're doing what I like to call a progressive breakfast--everyone can come in and eat at their leisure. If your goal is to have everyone sit down to eat at the same time, you'll want to keep the first few warm in the oven while you cook the rest.

Luckily, my family was patient with me. I served up waffles one at a time while they oohed and ahhed with the appropriate enthusiasm. Even Husband offered his compliments, and he refuses to eat anything pumpkin. After everyone tried at least one, we got a little impatient and decided to use the rest of the batter to make pancakes on the griddle. I think most of us actually liked the pancakes better-because of the difference in texture, the pumpkin flavor was more pronounced. Either way, they were a welcome twist to my favorite Thanksgiving dessert. Pumkpin Pie for breakfast? I'm in!

5 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 cup pumpkin puree (you can use canned puree)
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 1/4 tsp. grated peeled fresh ginger
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1/8 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of salt
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbs. double-acting baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 cup milk

1/2 cup sour cream
2 eggs
2 Tbs. dark rum
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Vanilla ice cream and/or maple syrup for serving

Preheat a waffle iron. If you want to hold the finished waffles until serving time, preheat an oven to 200°F. Melt the butter; set aside. In a large bowl, combine the pumpkin, brown and granulated sugars, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg and salt. Using a rubber spatula or handheld electric mixer, mix together well. Stir in the flour, baking powder and baking soda. The mixture will be thick and a little lumpy. Dont try to smooth it out; just mix until the ingredients are incorporated. In another bowl, beat together the milk, sour cream, eggs, rum and vanilla. Add the liquid ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and stir until combined. Fold in the melted butter. Whether or not your irons grids are well seasoned or made of a nonstick material, it is best to lightly butter or spray the grids for these waffles because the batter is quite sticky. Brush or spray the grids again only if subsequent waffles stick. For a Belgian waffle iron, spoon out 2/3 to 3/4 cup of batter (or the amount recommended by the manufacturers instructions) onto the hot iron. Use a metal spatula or wooden spoon to spread the batter evenly over the grids. Close the lid and bake until golden. If the waffle is hard to remove from the iron, peel it off gently and carefully. Serve immediately or keep the waffles, in a single layer, on a rack in the preheated oven while making the rest.

Adapted from Waffles from Morning to Midnight, by Dorie Greenspan (Weldon Owen, 2001).