With certain odds surmounted, it was time to enter the gauntlet. Google searches for “authentic Belgian waffle recipe” (liege waffles) returned a bevy of options. Wise with world travel, I was able to quickly omit any recipe that had no mention of Belgian pearl sugar. This secret ingredient, which caramelizes when cooked, is what separates the real waffles from mere dented pastry.
I opted to first follow the recipe on the back of the Lars’ Own Belgian Pearl Sugar box. The dough was dense and my waffle-maker had trouble shutting. The resulting waffles were both crunchy like a cookie and hard like stale French bread.
Next I doubled the yeast used in the Lars’ Own recipe, which resulted in a delicious waffle by American standards. Fluffy, but neither sticky nor chewy. But I knew I was on the right track. See that small, dark area on the waffle below? That amount was sticky/chewy perfection.
Then I tried this recipe, but I did a somewhat hasty preparation. “Softened butter,” my mom explained, “is used instead of melted butter for a reason.” The final of the three waffles was the closest I’ve gotten.
The lesson, for anyone else attempting to bring the flavors of Belgium into their kitchen, is to add patience to the ingredient list. Given the amount of time needed, one must either (a) sacrifice the self-righteous idea that waffles are exclusively a breakfast commodity or (b) wake up super-early and accept stabbing hunger for several hours. I’ve made my decision and now the test kitchen is operating into the night hours.