Testing… one, two, three…

One of the things I love about what I do is playing the part of the mad scientist/researcher/chef. Experimenting in the kitchen is a creative process of combining flavors, smelling and tasting, fishing around on the Internet and of course, documenting, documenting…. Over the last few weeks I have been asked by the friendly folks at Nordic Ware® to develop recipes for their Waffle Dipper™ pan.

What is a Waffle Dipper™, you may ask? Think of a stovetop waffle maker, with wells in the shape of wide sticks meant for dipping.

The obvious recipe of choice is, well, waffles, right? But that’s a little boring, isn’t it?

So, out came the cookbooks, the laptop and my camera. (Documenting – remember?)

First, since I am a sucker for bold flavors, I thought: how about a spicy waffle? Combine a little golden corn, some crunchy-spicy jalapeno and can’t forget some melting cheese! Plenty of recipes online to experiment with and the one I settled on was a variation on 3 recipes that I liked the best. This version brings out the sweetness and crunch of corn, with some pleasant heat and a sunny yellow color. Try it with black bean or tortilla soups, chili, or breakfast with maple syrup and eggs. (See recipe below)

Next came a sweet version: since I love pumpkin, I figured why not take my pumpkin muffin recipe and see how it fares in the Waffle Dipper™? Not one of my great ideas… The batter was way too soggy: by the time the inside cooked the outside was a messy burnt crust. So, back to the drawing board I went. After some more experimentation, I finally settled on Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Chip Waffles. Delish! A little spice, a little sweetness and mini chocolate chips – great flavors together! Serve with whipped cream, maple syrup, chocolate syrup, or berries. If you are in a decadent mood – you can opt for all the above… perhaps a birthday treat? (See recipe below)

Finally, a note about the pan itself (back to documentation): The Waffle Dipper™ is really well made – right here in Minneapolis! It heats up quickly, requires minimum greasing, is light and easy to handle and cleans up beautifully with just warm water and soap (dishwasher not recommended). A recipe for sweet waffles is provided on the sleeve, which worked really well too. Since I can’t help myself, I also tried alternating that recipe (I know, what can I say? I just can’t help it…) I omitted the sugar, added minced smoked salmon, minced chives and dill, and Voila! I had a Northwestern waffle. (Homage to my daughter who lives in Seattle…) Add a dip of Greek yogurt and sour cream with the same herbs and you’ve got a playful and tasty appetizer!

Try these yourself and let me know how you did, or better yet EXPERIMENT and share those results with me!

Jalapeno Corn Waffle Dippers:

 Makes 12-14

1-cup fine yellow/or blue corn meal 1/2-cup flour 1 tsp. baking powder 1/2-cup corn kernels (fresh, frozen or canned-drained) 1 large jalapeno, minced fine, stem and seeds removed 1/2 tsp. salt 1/4-cup cheddar cheese 1 Tbs. brown sugar 1/2 cup melted butter 1-cup whole milk 1 tbsp. canola oil 1 egg

Preheat your waffle dipper according to directions.

Combine the corn meal, flour, baking powder, corn, jalapeno, salt, cheese, and brown sugar in a medium bowl and stir to mix. Whisk together the melted butter, milk, oil and the egg in a separate bowl until well combined. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and stir gently until just barely combined. Spray waffle dipper with cooking spray and then cook in waffle iron according to Nordic Ware’s specifications.

Serve with chili, black beans, Tortilla soup or even as an appetizer with guacamole.

Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Chip Waffle Dippers

Makes 20-22 dippers

2 large eggs 1-1/2 cups buttermilk 1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled 1 tsp. vanilla extract 1/2 cup pumpkin puree 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour 1 ½-tsp. ground cinnamon ½ tsp. ground ginger ½ tsp. ground allspice ¼ tsp. nutmeg 3 tbsp. sugar 2 tsp. baking powder 1 tsp. baking soda ½ tsp. salt ½ cup mini chocolate chips

Optional Toppings: whipped cream, powdered sugar, choice of nuts, berries, Chocolate and/or maple syrup.

Combine the eggs, buttermilk, unsalted butter, vanilla extract, and pumpkin puree in a large bowl and whisk until well combined. In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients: flour, spices, sugar, baking powder and soda, and salt.

Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, folding gently. Add chocolate chips and mix them in.

Preheat Waffle Dipper according to directions. Spray the Waffle Dipper with cooking spray, place 3 tbsp. batter into the wells, close with top and flip pan over.  Cook for 2 minutes on first side, flip over and cook for 1 ½ more minutes.

Serve with your choice of optional toppings suggested above.