Crisp and caramelised on the outside, soft on the inside, this Belgian Liege waffles recipe is the most superior waffle recipe out. If you love lotus biscoff spread (speculoos), you’re going to love these biscoff waffles!
An Overview of Belgium Cuisine
Welcome to the land of fries, beer, chocolate and most importantly… Waffles! Since undergoing this cooking challenge, I have loved the journey of discovering different cuisines. Whether it is draniki from Belarus or mahjouba from Algeria, I’ve been adding so many new and exciting dishes to my cooking repertoire. However, there is something nice about cooking a dish that holds some familiarity.
Ever since Floss and I began our around-the-world cooking challenge, we were looking forward to Belgium popping up. Basically, we were dying for an excuse to make proper Belgian Liège waffles. They certainly did not disappoint. But more about that later. For now, let’s dive into Belgian cuisine!
History of Belgian Cuisine
Belgian cuisine is said to be served in the quantity of German food with the quality of French food. Quality and quantity? That does not sound like a bad combination to me. Belgian cuisine features many regional variations, meaning you’ll find unique dishes throughout the country. For instance, Wallonian cuisine focuses on fresh ingredients and rich sauces, while Flemish cuisine is a little more simple.
Regional and seasonal ingredients are heavily featured throughout all Belgian cuisine. Typical produce includes potatoes, leek, white asparagus and endives. A lot of seafood is eaten in Belgium, particularly mussels (moules) and grey shrimp (crevette grise). However, just like its European neighbours, meat, cheese and butter form the staples of the Belgium diet. Of course, we can’t forget the key food groups of Belgium; fries, beer, chocolate and waffles.
Popular Belgian Dishes
- Pomme frites (fries)– One of the most popular street snacks of the country, Belgian fries are a cut above the rest. The secret lies in the soft variation of potato used and also the cooking technique of double-frying. Traditionally, they are served in a cone with mayonnaise.
- Stoemp- A very popular side dish in Belgium, stoemp is a creamy dish consisting of mashed potatoes blended with other vegetables such as carrots, leeks or brussel sprouts.
- White asparagus- During asparagus season, Belgium goes crazy for this vegetable. You will find them in all kinds of forms (even in ice cream!), but the most common way is boiled, baked in butter sauce and covered with hard-boiled eggs.
- Speculoos– A delicious spiced biscuit which is typically served around Christmastime in Belgium and surrounding countries. It is now commonly know by the brand name lotus biscoff.
- Waffles– Belgium are famous for two different types of waffles: the Brussels waffle and the Liège waffle. The Brussels waffle is rectangular and flaky, and often comes topped with whipped cream, chocolate or fruit. On the other hand, the Liège waffle is much denser, with rounded edges and crystallised sugar baked into it.
Falling in love with the Belgian Liege Waffle
It was a freezing cold day in New York. We braved the blistering wind for a dozen blocks until we reached Union Square. Our hands may have turned into icicles but our hearts were warm. It was Christmas time, so the park was filled with Michael Bublé music and people happily cradling mugs of mulled wine. A bustling ice skating rink reflected the sparkling lights of the giant Christmas tree that stood behind it. The plan was to go ice skating. After all, that’s what everyone does in the movies when they visit New York at Christmastime.
As we went to join the insanely long cue to get our skates, two things filled the air. The first was the chorus of screaming children who filled the ice rink. The second was the smell of freshly made waffles. We turned to one another, and it dawned on us that the idea of ice skating in New York was probably a lot cuter than the reality. In seconds, we’d ditched the line and were making a beeline for the waffle stand.
A few minutes later, we were sitting on the edge of the ice rink, consuming some of the best waffles of our lives. We knew we had made a great life decision. Crisp and caramelised on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside, they were the perfect waffle texture. Plus, they were topped with the most delicious speculoos sauce that we could have eaten by the jarful (and may have done since). These weren’t just any waffles; they were Belgian Liège waffles, the most superior of the waffle family (we will explain why soon).
PS. For anyone wondering, this is where you can find the best liege waffles in New York.
Making Belgian Liege Waffles at home
Since our New York experience, we’ve been disappointed time and time again by a series of flat, floppy and flavourless waffles. We searched high and low for a place that make Belgian Liege waffles in Auckland, but have been unsuccessful in our pursuit. We knew we had to take things into our own hands.
Earlier this year, we finally bought a waffle maker. Now, there was nothing that stood between us and a plate crisp, golden Liège waffles. Or so we thought. As we began to search the internet for a recipe for the perfect waffle, we encountered a new hurdle. The key ingredient that gives Liège waffles their delicious, sugary crunch is the elusive pearl sugar.
We began trawling supermarket aisles and specialty stores for this sacred ingredient. We soon came to realise why we couldn’t find anywhere that sold Liege waffles in Auckland. Pearl sugar is not an easy ingredient to come by. We had almost lost hope in our Liege waffle dreams, until this challenge came around.
When we saw Belgium was coming up, we knew we had to make these waffles happen. After many a google search (and almost ordering a 5kg bag of pearl sugar from a wholesaler) we finally found a European speciality store that sold what we needed. Now there really was nothing that stood between us and that plate of Liège waffles.
What is the difference between a Liege waffle and a Brussels waffle?
The first thing to know is that not all Belgian waffles are made equal. In Belgium, you’ll find two types of waffles: the Brussels waffle and the Liège waffle. The two waffles are actually very different. Let me explain why.
The Brussels waffle is similar to what you’d find listed as “Belgian waffles” in many places around the world. They are generally soft, pale golden and rectangular in shape. On their own, these waffles don’t tend to have much flavour, and act more as a base to load up with toppings such as cream, fruit, chocolate and icecream. With the right accompaniments, Brussels waffles can be a tasty treat. However, in our humble opinion, they have nothing on the Liège waffle.
A proper Liège waffle is so delicious that is can easily be enjoyed without a single fancy topping. The rich, buttery dough is studded with dense pearl sugar, which half-melts to give a delicious crunch throughout the waffle as well as a caramelised finish to the outside. They are a lot sweeter than the Brussels waffle, but this just means you don’t have to drown them in syrup to make them taste good. Having said this, these waffles can be equally as good when paired with the right toppings, such as the delectable speculoos sauce we made with ours.
Watch the video below where I compare the Liege & the Brussels waffle:
How to make Belgian Liege Waffles with Biscoff
1. Add yeast and sugar to warmed milk in a large bowl. Leave for 5 minutes until yeast starts to foam. Whisk 2 eggs and melted butter into yeast mixture. Add in 3 cups of flour, salt and vanilla essence. If using a stand mixer, transfer and mix with dough hook until mixture is smooth. Otherwise, mix by hand with wooden spoon. Once smooth, add in extra 1/2 cup flour and mix for another 2 minutes.
2. Cover and leave to rise in warm place for 30 minutes. Once risen, fold in pearl sugar to mixture. Break dough into 10 pieces.
3. Preheat waffle iron and grease with cooking spray. Place piece of dough into the middle of the waffle iron and cook one at a time, until the centre is cooked through and the outside is crisp. Place on a wire rack in a warm oven to keep warm while you cook the rest of the waffles.
Ingredient notes for Biscoff Waffles
- Pearl sugar- As mentioned above, pearl sugar really is the key ingredient to making Liege waffles. Therefore, you really can’t substitute this ingredient. If you can’t find it in stores, you can try ordering it online, or making your own at home.
- Speculoos/ lotus biscoff spread– The word speculoos refer to a type of spiced biscuit that are typically Belgian or Dutch. Nowadays, many people know speculoos by the brand name Lotus Biscoff.
Serving suggestions for Liege Waffles
As mentioned above, Liege waffles are so delicious that you can enjoy them on their own. Having said this, we love a good topping, so we couldn’t resist serving our liege waffles up with two of our favourite accompaniments: poached pears and speculoos (biscoff) spread. The poached pears added a really nice fresh element to the waffles, and the speculoos spread just tastes good on anything and everything.
Belgian Liege Waffles:
- 3/4 cup milk (warmed)
- 2 teaspoons instant yeast
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 2 eggs
- 3/4 cup butter (melted)
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp vanilla essence
- 225g Belgian pearl sugar
- Lotus Biscoff Spread (Speculoos)
- Add yeast and sugar to warmed milk in a large bowl. Leave for 5 minutes until yeast starts to foam.
- Whisk 2 eggs and melted butter into yeast mixture. Add in 3 cups of flour, salt and vanilla essence. If using a stand mixer, transfer and mix with dough hook until mixture is smooth. Otherwise, mix by hand with wooden spoon. Once smooth, add in extra 1/2 cup flour and mix for another 2 minutes.
- Cover and leave to rise in warm place for 30 minutes. Once risen, fold in pearl sugar to mixture. Break dough into 10 pieces.
- Preheat waffle iron and grease with cooking spray. Place piece of dough into the middle of the waffle iron and cook one at a time, until the centre is cooked through and the outside is crisp.
- Place on a wire rack in a warm oven to keep warm while you cook the rest of the waffles. Serve waffles warm with lotus biscoff spread (speculoos)!
Recipe inspired by A Bountiful Kitchen