For our original testing, we assembled a panel of seven tasters. We made at least two rounds of Bisquick waffles and one round of yeast-raised waffles in each model. Rather than judge the time it took for the machines to heat up and cook, we focused on how good a waffle each maker produced. At first we followed the indicators to determine when the waffles were done, and if a machine had no indicator, we waited for it to stop steaming, as Matt Maichel suggested. We allowed for flexibility in cooking time, so if one needed more time, we would shut the lid and let it cook a little longer.
The food is actually quite good, offers vegan and vegetarian options, the double mimosa is LEGIT, and they not only allow pets on the patio, they sell special "woofles" for dogs. (My dog loved them!) My husband had a veganized "cowboy" chili-jalapeño hash brown dish, and it was amazing. I was surprised it didn't come with toast, but even still it was less than my bare bones vegan waffle. (Delicious but not worth the price.)
There are a zillion waffle irons. I own a bunch of them, but my favorite is the Manning-Bowman "Twin-O-Matic" both because of its unusual design and the way that it implicitly fosters "togetherness." The "twin" was designed by Karl Ratliff explicitly for the 1939 NEW YORK WORLDS FAIR. The Twin is a direct descendant of Mr. Cole's design but with an added Art Deco zest. This unique design won world awards and is the ONLY waffle iron shown in Tony Fusco's noted "ART DECO" BOOK, Volumes 1 and 2. It consists of 2 pieces: a double TOP/BOTTOM Waffle Iron derived from the Coles patent (above) and a circular chrome plated "trunion mount" that has 2 heavy Bakelite Cradles to support the irons. It is somewhat unique because it has both a Thermometer and a Thermostat.
Toppings are fabulous, but the perfectly crisp, tender, and golden brown square waffles from All-Clad's Belgian waffle maker will leave you wondering, who needs butter and syrup anyway? It was one of the top scorers in all our performance evaluations and tied for easiest to use overall. Turn the dial to your preferred doneness setting, pour in batter (it's okay if you use too much — the removable moat tray will catch any excess), and go about your business until it chimes.
Flemish waffles, or Gaufres à la Flamande, are a specialty of northern France and portions of western Belgium. The original recipe, published in 1740 by Louis-Auguste de Bourbon in Le Cuisinier Gascon, is as follows: Take "deux litrons" (1.7 liters or 7 cups) of flour and mix it in a bowl with salt and one ounce of brewer's yeast barm. Moisten it completely with warm milk. Then whisk fifteen egg whites and add that to the mixture, stirring continuously. Incorporate "un livre" (490 grams or 1.1 pounds) of fresh butter, and let the batter rise. Once the batter has risen, take your heated iron, made expressly for these waffles, and wrap some butter in a cloth and rub both sides of the iron with it. When the iron is completely heated, make your waffles, but do so gently for fear of burning them. Cooked, take them out, put them on a platter, and serve them with both sugar and orange blossom water on top.
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.
There are countless styles of waffles, including the light and crisp Italian gofri, the sugar-speckled Belgian liège, and the charming, heart-shaped Scandinavian vafler. For our testing we decided to limit ourselves to the two most common waffle styles in the United States, broadly divided into the "American" and "Belgian" categories. Although there are dozens of varieties of "Belgian" waffles alone, for marketing purposes, thicker waffles with deeper wells are considered Belgian, while shallow, thinner ones are categorized as American or "regular." Both American and Belgian waffles can be made in either a circle or a square shape, so it’s up to you to decide which form is more waffle-y to you.
“This sweet little baby waffle-maker is a dream. I swear, I squeal every time I pull out a perfectly made baby waffle because they are just so darn cute! Uncomplicated, easy to use and clean. Not a lot of bells and whistles here, but it does the job just right. They’re the perfect Eggo size, not huge like some waffle-makers, and get perfectly crisp. Sometimes, when I’m feeling crazy, I add in some blueberries or chocolate chips. If you’re making a lot, or want to do them quickly, I do suggest getting two, as you can only make one small(ish) waffle at a time with this.”