If boring waffles aren’t your thing, then this may be just the added excitement your breakfast needs. We think a breakfast with these Mickey Waffles would also be a great way to surprise your children to announce a planned trip to Disney World! And even if that’s not in the plan, these waffles will still bring a smile to the face of all Mickey lovers.
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What we liked: This compact and lightweight model from Black+Decker is a great multitasker for any small kitchen. It makes thin waffles with shallow wells, crispy on the outside and slightly chewy on the inside. On average, it makes waffles in about eight minutes—longer than ideal, but still respectable compared with other affordable options. The large surface makes four square four-inch waffles at a time, but it still has a low profile, making it a good fit in tight spaces. The plates on this unit are reversible, revealing a flat griddle, which opens up into a large cooking surface for eggs and pancakes and can accommodate large sandwiches with its adjustable hinge. The plates are removable and dishwasher-safe.
This did the job, but it sure wasn't streamlined. Here is a photo from a World War II era training pamphlet. The subject was "How to use electrical appliances." Many rural households were just getting electricity due to the Rural Electrification Administration (REA) and the pamphlet was intended to get folks up to speed with the rest of the country. This photo shows the Government-approved method of "seasoning" a waffle iron (you put oil on it and let is burn in, creating the organic equivalent of Teflon). Any vegetable oil will do.
When I was a kid, I was obsessed with Eggo waffles. I vaguely remember that when I was very young, my mother used to purchase square frozen waffles. But once our family was turned on to the round Eggo waffles, we never looked back. As soon as one popped out of the toaster, I would slather it in butter and maple syrup and then cut off the rounded edges and gobble it up.
With that in mind, if you intend to serve Brussels waffles, then you should pick a unit with a rectangular shape. However, if you’re planning on making Liege waffles, then a unit with an irregular shape will be better suited. As for Belgian waffles, they are usually round, requiring a round-shaped waffle maker. American waffles can be either round or square, allowing you to choose one of the two.
In the pantheon of waffle irons, the All-Clad Belgian Waffle Maker is the undisputed queen, but she comes with a price tag to match—so if you're watching your wallet, it's worth considering the Krups as a good alternative. Still, if you can save up some dough to take the plunge, you'll be rewarded with the best waffles of your life. And the build of the machine is so solid, you can think of it as you would a Le Creuset Dutch oven or a vintage Griswold cast-iron skillet—an heirloom to pass on to future generations for hundreds of more happy Sunday mornings.
Dear reader, when you mix all of the ingredients together for waffles, you’ll realize that things aren’t as smooth as silk. We’re not going for a cake batter here. The moment there’s no visible flour, you’re ready to go. Easy peasy! Mixing everything within an inch of its life to ensure a lump-free batter means you’ll likely end up with tough waffles.
Electric waffle irons are available in flip and stationary models. Proponents of flip waffle makers suggest that they heat more evenly by better distributing the batter throughout the plates. After testing both styles with different batters to see if this was truly a useful feature, we found that our three high-end picks cooked all the batters on the top and the bottom evenly. There was no difference between our flip model and a high-end stationary model. We did, however, find the flip a useful function when comparing lower-end models cooking the thinner buttermilk batter. Ultimately, we didn't pick any low-end flip models because, although they may have heated more evenly than our budget picks, they cooked the batter so slowly that the waffles ended up too dense and heavy.
Unlike the Krups GQ502D, the Chef’sChoice 840B does not handle thin batter well—in fact, the manual explicitly states, “A thicker batter that pours slowly works best.” This model did a great job with Bisquick batter, turning out perfectly cooked waffles every time, but with our favorite yeasted batter it produced blotchy, limp, flat, and soggy waffles. So the Krups model is the winner in terms of versatility.
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By the early 20th century, waffle recipes became rare in recipe books, and only 29 professional waffle craftsmen, the oublieurs, remained in Paris. Waffles were shifting from a predominately street-vendor-based product to an increasingly homemade product, aided by the 1918 introduction of GE's first electric commercial waffle maker. By the mid-1930s, dry pancake/waffle mix had been marketed by a number of companies, including Aunt Jemima, Bisquick, and a team of three brothers from San Jose, Calif. – the Dorsas. It is the Dorsas who would go on to innovate commercial production of frozen waffles, which they began selling under the name "Eggo" in 1953. Manufacturers are now testing the production of waffles with potato starch, which increase the stability of the waffle and protect them from sticking to the iron.
The four-waffle Chef’sChoice Classic WafflePro 854 made waffles that were evenly browned and attractive-looking. And in addition to browning controls, this model has a switch for fast baking (crisp exterior, moist interior) or slow baking (crunchy, uniform texture). However, the waffles it made did not distinguish themselves enough to warrant this machine’s much higher price tag—for about half the price, our pick can produce just as many excellent waffles.
Since a waffle maker is a single-purpose kitchen item (though Will It Waffle? author Daniel Shumski and others are doing their best to change that), it should be small enough to store easily. That means no flip waffle makers, which easily take up twice the space. Don’t worry, though—you aren’t missing much. We did test a few flip models, and we found them to be no easier to use (and with worse results) than standard countertop models. “The reason flip models are designed that way,” Matt Maichel said, “is because gravity causes the batter to fall on the bottom plate, and you flip to mitigate temperature loss by putting some of the uncooked material on what was initially the top plate.” Maichel doesn’t use any flip models, because he doesn’t find that the feature actually improves cooking. Interestingly, we discovered that other pros prefer flip models. J. Kenji López-Alt expressed a strong preference for flippers, though his favorite is the stovetop variety that you manually flip. He said, “It makes getting the waffle out easier, especially if you’re doing sticky things. I rely on gravity.” We believe it takes practice and experience to get a good feel for obtaining the best results from flip models, so for most people, we don’t think they’re worth all the extra space they take up.
The Chef’sChoice Classic WafflePro 852 was our former runner-up when the Chef’sChoice 840B was unavailable. Although this model was an initial favorite in our testing, with tasters praising its waffles’ consistency and crunch, it makes only two thin, American-style waffles at a time, whereas our pick makes four. We also found that this model had a tendency to burn waffles when the dial was on the highest setting.