Waffle sticks

Up until a few weeks ago, I could count on one hand — specifically one finger — the number of times I’d tried a homemade waffle. (Sad, right? And it was years ago too.) The hubs and I were at a beautiful little B&B in Kingston just after Valentine’s Day (because we were too cheap to pay the premium to go on the actual holiday) and the couple who owned it served my hubby fluffy waffles dusted with icing sugar in the charming breakfast room. I had poached eggs or something, as I’d never order something that decadent myself, but I do remember trying some, and of course it was frickin’ delicious. And the years (and years!) after that? Waffles just weren’t a part of our lives. (Nor were B&Bs.) Oh Eggo’s from time to time for the kids, but those really aren’t the same, are they? Then a few weeks ago I bought this babycakes mini’s waffle maker (Target! $20!). Changed. Our. Lives.

babycakes-mini-waffle-maker

Alright, so maybe I’m exaggerating just a bit, but it does do a damn good job. It heats up and cooks and minutes, it’s easy to use and it’s easy to clean. (The cleaning bit is key. You know if something’s a pain in the hoop to clean it’s just going to sit in the cupboard.) And it makes the cutest individual waffle sticks, which are ideal for little fingers.

waffle-batter

I’ve tried the basic waffle recipe that came with it, but I found the waffles a little tough and prefer my trusty one for pancakes, which I’ve included at the end of this post. If you like a lighter waffle, you might like it too.

waffles-cooking

Careful not to overdo it with the batter. I’ve overfilled my waffle maker a few times and it makes a damn mess. Blueberry waffles were a mistake (the blueberries were too big so the lid didn’t close properly and the batter oozed out all over the place) but I’ve had lots of success with plain and chocolate. (For chocolate, just stir a couple of tablespoons of cocoa into the batter and thin with a little milk.)

regular-and-chocolate-waffles-2

You’ll want to cool them on a wire rack straight away so they stay all nice and crispy. You can also freeze them and reheat them in your toaster, stacking two in each slot.

chocolate-dipped-chocolate-waffle-2

I went a little cray-cray and dipped them in chocolate and sprinkles, but they’d be just as tasty (okay, almost as tasty) with syrup. And you could easily skip the sugar and make your own savoury creations — say, herb, garlic and cheese — and serve them with a creamy dip. Wouldn’t those be great for a party? Zillions of possibilities!

One thing’s for sure: they’ll be gone in seconds!

Try ’em and let me know what you think! Are you team waffle or team pancake? Or team neither? (Boo.)

On with the recipe!

Trusty pancake/waffle batter

Makes 28 waffle sticks (I’m guessing 7 waffles in a regular-sized wafflemaker)

Ingredients

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking power

2 tablespoons sugar

Sprinkle of salt

1 cup milk

1 egg, beaten

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Directions

Whisk dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients to dry and whisk again until combined. Careful not to overmix; batter should still be a little lumpy.

Cook per your waffle maker’s instructions.

Flourless chocolate cookies

If it’s hot where you are, baking might be the last thing on your mind. You want to be out in the sunshine, walking, lounging or gardening or maybe running around with your kids. But trust me, these cookies are well worth the time in the kitchen. They’re the perfect combination of crispy/chewy goodness, with a welcome crunch from the nuts and plenty of chocolate chunks to sink your teeth into. And while I haven’t tried it myself, I bet they’d be delicious in an ice cream sandwich. Will you try them and let me know?

flourless choco cookies six

C’mon. You know you want one!

cookie close up

They’re large enough to share, but of course you don’t have to.

cookies in pkgs

And if you do, they make a pretty little gift. Just don’t be surprised if people ask you to make more.

Flourless chocolate cookies
Adapted from this recipe

Makes 10 jumbo cookies (about 3 inches in diameter)

Ingredients

1.5 cups confectioners’ sugar

1/4 cup plus 1 heaping tablespoon Dutch-process cocoa

2 pinches salt

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

4 egg whites

1 and 1/4 cup walnuts, slivered almonds or pistachios (or a combination of your favs)

2 generous handfuls dried cherries or dried cranberries

1 3 oz/100 gram 70% cocoa dark chocolate bar, broken into chunks (or a couple of generous handfuls of jumbo semi-sweet chocolate chips)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place one rack in the middle of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.

Whisk the sugar, cocoa and salt until blended.

Add the egg whites and vanilla extract and beat on low speed for approximately one minute. Mixture will be runny.

Throw in the nuts, dried fruit and chocolate chunks/chips and stir ’til combined.

Using a 1-ounce cookie scoop, scoop out mixture and drop onto the baking sheet in six generously spaced piles. (If you don’t have a cookie scoop, measure out two tablespoons per cookie.)

Bake for approximately 15 – 17 minutes, rotating cookie sheet halfway through.

Let cool 10 to 15 minutes before carefully peeling from the parchment paper or baking mat.

Bake remaining four cookies.

Finished cookies will have glossy tops, crackly outsides and a chewy, brownie-like centre.

Chocolate avocado fudge

This week I’m all about satisfying cravings in a healthy way. And ‘tho we know a little dark chocolate can be good for you, sometimes it just doesn’t satisfy. Sometimes you want something rich and chewy and decadent and bad. This chocolate avocado fudge satisfies that deep dark chocolate craving and (bonus!) it’s good for you too.

fudge ingredients

I adapted a couple of recipes from the Interwebs to come up with this one, replacing Stevia with a little brown sugar, doubling up on the vanilla extract and simplifying the cooking method so you can make it all in one pot. I used pistachios but any other nuts would probably be just as good.

fudge

Fudge isn’t the most photogenic, but that didn’t stop my five-year-old from asking for seconds. Which totally blew me away. Avocado and coconut milk and nuts and he actually liked it?

We have a winner here, people. Try it and see.

Chocolate avocado fudge

Makes 12 satisfying pieces

Ingredients

1 large avocado

1/3 cup coconut milk

3 oz/100 grams 70% dark chocolate

1/3 cup brown sugar (next time I’ll try 1/4; the fudge is quite sweet)

1/3 cup pistachios

12 walnut halves

2 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp salt

Directions

Line a loaf pan with parchment paper.

Peel, pit and puree avocado until smooth.

Simmer coconut milk until warm; break chocolate into chunks and stir into coconut milk until melted.

Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Continue to stir on low heat for 2 to 3 minutes.

Pour into loaf pan and chill in the fridge overnight. (The fudge will be fairly soft; freeze overnight if you like it more firm.)

Remove fudge from pan (keep it on the parchment paper to slice) and cut into 12 portions. Garnish each with a walnut half.