Friday, March 21, 2014

Black Pepper Bacon Waffles

Wait, it's Friday already!?  Normally, that's a really good thing (TGIF!) but today, it also means that it's the last day of Breakfast Week, and is slightly upsetting.  I had so much fun working on these breakfast posts and it's sad that this is the last one.  At least I made sure that my final Breakfast Week post was a good one- Black Pepper Bacon Waffles.  Sounds a little crazy, but trust me, this recipe is really pretty amazing.  

Waffles are the ultimate breakfast food for me, hands down.  I grew up eating frozen waffles for breakfast just about everyday when I was growing up.  My mom would always buy the Eggo brand, and I became a die-hard Eggo fanatic. I would eat the other brands she bought sometimes, but I would never like them as much as I liked the Eggo waffles.  Plain, chocolate chip, and banana were my favorite flavors, and I loved eating them with pancake syrup,  chocolate syrup. or fruit jellies.  The most important part of my waffles-for-breakfast was ensuring that every hole in the waffle had a good amount of whatever was topping my waffle that particular morning.  It must have been part of my OCD self.  Anyway, now that I've gotten older and my taste buds are ever so slightly more refined, I've grown to appreciate waffles that come from beyond the confines of the freezer section of my supermarket.  Yeasted waffles, Belgian waffles, buttermilk waffles, fried chicken topped waffles...I love them all. That's not to say that I won't eat my childhood favorites now, because believe me, I will, but my tastes have matured just a bit.  I think that plain buttermilk waffles topped with fresh fruit and syrup are my favorites, but I'm definitely open to other flavors.  I really want to experiment more with savory waffles, and I think that these Black Pepper Bacon Waffles were a good place to start.  

These waffles have an interesting flavor, and I mean that in a good way, of course.  They have a slightly spiced flavor from the black pepper combined with a salty bite from the chopped bacon, all while still maintaining a perfectly fluffy interior and crisp exterior, just like any good waffle should.  A generous drizzle of syrup provides a really nice sweet contrast to the salty, peppery waffle, and it makes for a really unique flavor experience that's unexpected for breakfast time.

Yesterday's recipe for Apple Walnut Raisin Cinnamon Rolls was kind of a long one that required a bit of planning in advance and offered a delayed feeling of gratification, but this waffle recipe is just the opposite.  It's quick and easy enough that it can be made as part of a spur of the moment decision or waffle craving.  This waffle batter comes together quickly, as any good waffle batter should.  First, strips of bacon are generously sprinkled with freshly cracked black pepper and fried until perfectly crisp (or baked, I just had something in the oven as I was making these waffles so I opted for that option).  As the bacon cools, the rest of the ingredients can be mixed up. The dry ingredients are stirred together in a large bowl, and the eggs, vegetable oil, vanilla extract, and buttermilk all get combined in a large measuring cup.  These two sets of ingredients are quickly mixed together (you don't want to overmix).  Our black pepper bacon is chopped up and folded into the waffle batter, and once that's done, we're ready to make some waffles!

The longest part about making waffles is the fact that you can only make one at a time, meaning that your first waffles will be cool by the time you finish making the last couple of waffles. I have yet to discover a way around this, so the best solution is to simply have your oven preheated to a low 250 degrees F, and then you can just keep them warm in the oven as you prepare the rest of the waffles.  This way, you can serve a whole batch of crisp, warm waffles for everyone all at the same time.  I think these waffles were a perfect way to get started with savory waffles (I'm thinking a ham and cheese waffle would be amazing, and that's next on my list of experiments), and a perfect way to end Breakfast Week.  I had so much fun working on (and trying) all these special weekend breakfast recipes.  If only there were more days in the week so I could have shared more recipes! Then again, that would mean that it would take longer for the weekend to get here, meaning that it would take longer to get to enjoy a special weekend breakfast.  Let's just keep things as they are, because tomorrow is officially the weekend!  Hooray!

Black Pepper Bacon Waffles
recipe from the Joy the Baker Cookbook


For the Bacon

10 slices bacon
2 teaspoons freshly cracked black pepper

For the Waffles

3 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
4 large eggs
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups buttermilk, shaken


Begin by preparing the bacon.  Sprinkle the cracked black pepper all over the strips of bacon.  You can either cook the bacon in a 375 degree oven, by placing them in a single layer on a baking sheet and baking them for about 10-15 minutes until nice and crisp, or, simply pan fry the slices until crisp.  Place the cooked bacon on a plate lined with paper towels to drain and cool.  When cool, chop the bacon into bite size pieces.

In the meantime, preheat your waffle iron and prepare the waffle batter.  In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, pepper, and brown sugar.  In a large class measuring cup, whisk together the eggs, oil, vanilla, and buttermilk. 

Add the buttermilk mixture to the dry ingredients all at once, and stir to combine.  Stir only until just incorporated, you don't need to get every last lump out!  Gently stir in the bacon.  

Add waffle batter to your hot waffle iron and cook according to your iron's instructions.  I found that 2/3 cup made full, evenly-sized waffles in my waffle iron, but this will vary per waffle iron.  Waffles can be kept warm in a 200 degree oven while you use all the batter.  Serve the waffles warm with maple syrup.  Enjoy!

Yield will vary depending on waffle iron; I  got 9 large round waffles.


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