One feature of the Classic Round Waffle Maker which we loved was the browning dial with seven settings, allowing you to choose the exact crispness you prefer. Another was a “ready-to-eat” alert – when waffles are ready, the machine beeps to let you know. That’s a lot better than interfering with the cooking process by continually opening the lid to check on progress.
I’m an impatient cook, I can’t be bothered to transform egg whites into shaving cream foam at 9am on a Sunday. Caffeine and a quick meditation sesh must be had before the cacophonous sounds of roaring kitchen engines. It’s just how I am. Now, please don’t get me wrong, I love mornings— just ones with minimal amounts of noise. The point is… If you’re anything like me and want quick, silent, effortless satisfaction, these are for you.
“My husband and I love Belgian waffles. Over the past 20 years, you would not believe how many waffle-makers I have purchased. Some were good, and others were just terrible. My new All-Clad Belgian Waffle Maker makes perfect Belgian waffles. It is on the pricey side, but obviously worth every penny. I wish I had found it years earlier. The waffles that are perfect for us are crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, and the color is a golden brown. I was able to achieve this on setting No. 5. I like to use King Arthur Flour Belgian Waffle Mix. The resulting waffles are outstanding.”
There are millions of recipes for waffles, but most batters fall into two distinct categories: yeast-raised (more commonly used for thicker Belgian-style waffles) and baking powder-leavened (also called "American"; think Bisquick and the like). That said, you can use yeast-raised batter in American-style waffle makers and American-style batter in Belgian-style waffle makers—the results will just be a little different than usual due to the differing shapes and sizes. Our lineup of contenders included both Belgian- and American-style machines, though for the sake of simplicity we eliminated "flip-style" models. (They tend to take up more space than other waffle irons and a perusal of anecdotal reviews indicated that they didn't perform any better.) We tested all of the machines using this crispy waffle recipe, minus the caramel coulis.
Our favorite waffle maker for regular waffles, the Breville the No Mess Waffle(available at Amazon for $103.96), doesn’t come cheap, but it makes the crispiest waffles and lives up to its name, making it a pleasure to use. For thick fluffy Belgian waffles, we recommend the Cuisinart Double Belgian Waffle Maker (available at Amazon) which bakes up two at a time. For great waffles at a more reasonable price, we like the Cuisinart Round Classic Waffle Maker and the Presto Flipside Belgian Waffle Maker.
The Black and Decker G48TD earns a nod from the lifestyle website Groom and Style, and many positive reviews from users who like that it can make four waffles at a time -- a plus for larger families, although you'll get more even browning if you let the heating plates warm back up for a minute or two between uses. Of course, that four-waffle capacity means this waffle iron has a larger footprint that single-waffle irons, and you can't stand it on end to save storage space. But most say they're more than willing to give up some counter space to this appliance and a little bit of control over the final waffle color in exchange for its versatility and the ability to give it a thorough cleaning.
Once the waffle iron has preheated, using a pastry brush, coat the inside (top and bottom) of the iron with oil. Pour enough batter into the waffle iron to just cover the waffle grid. Close the iron and cook the waffle as per the manufacturer’s instructions, about 3-5 minutes, until golden brown. To prevent the waffles from getting soggy, toss them— one at a time— back and forth between your hands a few times to help release any steam. Continue on with the rest of the batter until done.
Pandan waffles originate from Vietnam and are characterized by the use of pandan flavoring and coconut milk in the batter. The pandan flavoring results in the batter's distinctive spring green color. When cooked, the waffle browns and crisps on the outside and stays green and chewy on the inside. Unlike most waffles, pandan waffles are typically eaten plain. In Vietnam they are relatively cheap and so are popular among children. They are a popular street food made in either cast iron molds heated with charcoal or in electric waffle irons.
That non-stick coating and oil combo not only results in pretty waffles on your plate, it also means cleanup is a snap because you won't have to scrub bits of stuck waffle out of the grids. Some electric waffle makers have removable plates that can be tossed in the sink or dishwasher. If you're dealing with an electric waffle maker that doesn't have removable grids, you can't dunk the whole thing for a good cleaning -- so a soft-bristle toothbrush or damp rag are your best cleaning options.
Flip or stationary? Once you’ve chosen between Belgian or American-style waffles, the next step is to determine if you want the assistance of a flip mechanism. Without flipping over the irons, you’re relying on the rising agent in your batter (or just over-filling your waffle maker) to quickly and evenly fill the top plate. The flip mechanism ensures even distribution for more consistent waffles. They take up more space vertically, but in the storage position they’re actually pretty manageable.
The long handles are used to open the mold and then hold it over a fire. Considerable skill is required to know when to put the dough into the mold and when to take it off the fire. After years of practice, I now only burn about 10% of the pizzelle that I attempt. In the case of waffles, electric technology is much better, and we shall move to that forthwith.
This illustration anthropomorphizes the Twin-O-Matic and notes that post-war demand for small appliances will be a "half billion dollars" (about $100 billion in 2005 dollars), and encourages dealers to sign up to sell Manning-Bowman appliances. This is actually a very sad artifact, because the Manning-Bowman company was in deep financial distress because they could not get materials -- particularly chrome -- during World War II. This was an attempt to sign up dealers so that credit and financing could be obtained to last out the materiel shortages imposed by the War. It did not work, and soon thereafter, Manning-Bowman sank into a sea of red ink. The company's assets, including its spectacular Art Deco designs, were sold to the Bersted Corporation of Fostoria, Ohio. Berstead watered down the designs and made low-priced "drug store" versions of many Manning-Bowman appliances. (The Sandwich Grill on our Kitchen Aplliances page is a good example of this "cheapening" process.) Alas, Manning-Bowman met an inglorious end, but it was merely a foretaste of the vast wave of shoddy appliances made in faraway dictatorships that suffocate the American marketplace today.