Brown Sugar Bacon Waffles.
Do I have your attention yet? Yes, that’s right, I said waffles, and bacon, and brown sugar, and ohmygod! So back when I lived in North Carolina, there was a popular breakfast joint in my town named Elmo’s Diner. On their large menu of breakfasty-goodness there was one item that never failed to take my breath away – the bacon-waffle. Just finishing one of these monstrosities of deliciousness was a difficult task, once properly slathered with butter and real maple syrup. Yes, my friends, it is a heart attack on a platter, an untimely (but scrumptious!) early death just waiting to happen… and I loved him. It was a love that dare not speak its name – the kind of guilty pleasure indulgence food straight from the fatty-food-lovin’-Paula-Deen-butter-guzzlin’-southern-nation. You try and hate on it, but in the end you just can’t… because you’re too full.
Since moving away, there have been many things I’ve missed, and that bacon waffle is one of them. Since recently purchasing a Belgian-waffle iron, I’ve been obsessed with the idea of recreating this masterpiece. My first attempt was okay – decent tasting waffle (if a bit heavy), and delicious bacon crumbles. It definitely satisfied, but it wasn’t the kind of gluttonous, beautiful meal I remembered. So what do I usually do in the face of such a challenge? Go to the interwebz, of course! A bunch of googling later, I had some contender recipes, but none that really called to me with the promise of that long lost waffle of love. Until I found this one. The title, the pictures… I was sold. “I must make these,” I said, “and they will be awesome.”
Next step? Tracking down the best possible bacon available for this noble enterprise. I recently discovered a little butcher shop down the street from my work that puts out some of the best meat products I’ve seen in years. On splurge-nights, the boy toy and I get ourselves a big honkin’ rib eye (I’m talkin’ the couple-inches-thick kind) and proceed to have a steak better than a lot of restaurants I’ve been to recently. Their smoked products are out of this freakin’ world, and I was overwhelmed with joy upon finding they offered bacon in both hickory and apple wood smoked varieties. I scurried home with a pound of some of the most beautiful, thick-cut bacon I’ve ever had the pleasure to own or eat (hickory, in this instance).
What intrigued/thrilled me the most about this particular bacon-waffle recipe was the semi-candying of the bacon itself under a veil of brown sugar. It seemed, to the imaginary taste buds in my head, to be a great way to incorporate that sweet-salty-meaty-hot combo I love so dearly. So, like any recipe I stumble across, I made a few adjustments and plunged right in:
Brown Sugar Bacon Waffles
(adapted from Joy the Baker)
Step One: cut a hole in the box… um, er, I mean prepare the candied bacon!
The original recipe says to use 10 slices of bacon – which I did – but mine were so thick and luscious, I had to make a few adjustments in the baking time. My 10 slices were just shy of a whole pound, but ymmv depending on the brand and thickness of your bacon.
Lay your bacon out in a baking pan of some sort, with a tall enough edge to contain all the fat that will render off without splashing when moved. In order to fit in my pan I had to overlap the pieces a bit – this is okay. Sprinkle the top of your bacon layer generously with the following mixture:
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/8 tsp. onion powder
- 1/8 tsp. garlic powder
- 1/8 tsp. smoked paprika
- fresh ground pepper (to taste)
Bake this lovely concoction in a preheated 375-degree oven for 20-30 minutes, again based on the thickness of your bacon. Mine took 30 minutes, while the original recipe called for only 20. I suggest checking it at 20 minutes and adding more time as necessary. You want the bacon to look crisp but not burned. Immediately transfer out of the greasy sugar sludge with tongs to a cutting board to cool (don’t use paper towels for draining – the bacon will stick!). Once cool, chop it into happy bits of a size amenable to the chef (too big and they will make your waffle iron difficult to close, so be wary). Make sure to eat a few to make sure that they are okay… then a few more… oh crap, remember to save some for the waffles!
Now the waffle batter!
- 2 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
- 1/4 c. cornstarch
- 1 tbsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- 4 large eggs
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 1/2 cups buttermilk (I use 6 tbsp. buttermilk powder + water)
In a large bowl combine flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, salt and brown sugar (if using powdered buttermilk substitute, add it here to the dry ingredients). Whisk to blend. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, oil, buttermilk (or water, if using powdered buttermilk) and vanilla extract. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and fold. Once almost fully incorporated, add the bacon bites. Stir. Try not to over mix the batter or the waffles will become tough. It’s ok if a few lumps remain in the batter.
Cook according to your waffle machine instructions. Generally, you should watch the steam coming off of your iron – when it starts to slow down or stop, your waffle is probably ready. It can take a while to get through all the batter – I made at least 8 Belgian-waffle sized lovelies from my batch (hard to count when they keep getting eaten). What should you do to pass the time while your waffles are cooking? Well, if you’re me, you start eating waffles! And drink beer, that’s always a good choice (it pairs very nicely with both waffles and pancakes, I’ve found). In desperate times, get out a laser-pointer and make your cat run in circles around the kitchen floor. That’s always good for a laugh! Next thing you know, your waffle will be done!
Serve immediately (can keep warm in a low oven while batches finish), topped with real maple syrup (none of that fake stuff, you pansies!) and butter if you dare. Be prepared for moans of ecstasy to escape the mouths of you and your loved ones. Make this for your date and he/she will imminently propose marriage, simply to have these waffles of love be a regular part of his or her meal schedule. Warning : Waffles-of-Love have been known to cause pregnancy in certain circumstances. Please practice safe syrup.