My friend, Libby, and I first saw stroopwafel cookies at an outdoor market in the center of Haarlem, Holland. We were having an “off” day from our Let’s Start Talking mission trip and decided to explore the town’s morning market. I think it must have been the very first time in my life that I explored and ventured off so far away from home and with zero adult supervision. We were technically adults as sophomores in college (are you done laughing, yet?) – I say “technically” because someone trusted us to go across the globe to teach English to non-native speakers, but in all other manners of speaking, we were babies.
While walking the streets of Haarlem (or trying our best to ride our bikes without getting killed after not being on a bike since the 90s) we discovered so many things we didn’t know existed. Crazy street performers that came alive at the sound of a coin dropping into their hats, a sweet, old lady flipping tiny pancakes over with a spear in her honeycomb-style pan (ebilskivers), and probably the best of all – the Stroopwafel (pronounced “strope”) – two waffle cookies sandwiched together with soft caramel. We smelled them from down the street – the air was cloaked in butterscotch. We followed our noses to a little stand in the center of the street where a man was making salad-plate-sized waffles, pressing them with a hand-held grid patterned iron, and spreading each waffle with a thick caramel sauce before sandwiching them together and handing them to us, gooey and oozing out the sides. They were warm, soft and crispy around the edges and we took one bite and with wide eyes, didn’t say another word until we were done eating. It was one of those magical food memories that has cemented that time and space in my brain, forever. A part of my heart will always be with my friend, Libby, on the streets of Haarlem, eating stroopwafels and wondering how we got so lucky. Eleven years later in our toddler-run worlds of rushing around and enjoying quick cups of coffee in the wee hours of the morning, I like to go back to that place where nothing else in the world existed except our adventure.
When we got back from Holland, we started to see reproductions of these cookies in grocery stores. A poor man’s stroopwafel, but better than nothing. I don’t think most people know that you’re supposed to place the cookie on top of your coffee after you pour it, so that the room temp caramel softens with the heat and when bitten into, oozes out just a bit. The ones we got in the market were obviously over-sized to sell to American tourists, but the true size is a perfect fit for the top of a coffee mug.
I wanted to make my own for years, but had never attempted it till last weekend. I found a basic stroopwafel recipe online and had some leftover butterscotch sauce in the fridge and it worked perfectly. I recommend making the butterscotch because I think that salty note is just amazing with the sweetness of the cookie. I also doubled the cinnamon the original recipe called for and was quite happy with the results. If you’re not in the mood to make your own caramel or butterscotch, I thought the other night, while I was supposed to be sleeping, that those sheets of caramel sold in grocery stores for caramel apples would work perfectly because they’re already flattened out! You really need a pizzelle iron to make these and if you don’t have one, I would suspect that you could be pretty successful if you have a handheld bacon press and just pressed them out on a griddle. They don’t take long to cook at high heat (about one minute) and you have to split them in half before they cool down, so get ready to suck it up and act like a woman (I didn’t miss-type). As I will say over and over again on this blog: nothing in this life worth having comes easy.
And homemade stroopwafels are definitely worth having. Libby, my dear – can’t wait to have coffee with you, again in a couple weeks. Of course, you’re always there, in my head, during my morning cup. Always.
makes about 15-20
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 cup white sugar
1 cup unsalted butter
2 large eggs
1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
For the filling:
Confession: I honestly don’t remember how I made the caramel/butterscotch in my fridge. It was a few weeks old and I’d gone on vacation since then, so I honestly don’t remember. It was mighty fine, though. I will share this link with you, though, because I’ve made this exact recipe many times and it’s pretty fail-proof. You don’t be disappointed and it only takes about 15 minutes. Or buy caramel apple sheets from the store. But this will taste better.
Preheat pizzelle iron, or griddle, if you don’t have a pizzelle, and heat up the bacon press if you’re using that.
Dissolve the yeast in the warm water.
Cut the butter into the flour either by hand (I did this whole recipe by hand and got a bit of muscle build from doing what Kitchen-Aid does 10x better but hey, I’m stubborn.) Mix in the sugar, cinnamon, eggs and yeast mixture. Mix well (use your mixer with a paddle attachment unless you, too, want to build your muscles) and set aside to rise for 30 to 60 minutes. It might not double or even rise very much, but as long as you had it in a semi-warm place for that hour, it’ll be fine. Mine didn’t rise much. Roll dough into 15ish small balls (about a ping pong ball size), squeeze each ball into the preheated pizzelle iron and bake for about 30 seconds to a minute. Cut the wafels in two and spread with the filling. Eat immediately or let it it come to room temp and enjoy them as lids to hot coffee.
And please, whatever you do, don’t eat these alone. I think I shared these with about 5 different people. That’s the key to happiness, I’ve found :)
*adapted from Diana’s Desserts