We’d already had the idea for a waffle-themed New Year’s Day brunch when we ran across Dorie Greenspan‘s recipe for Bruno’s New Year’s Waffles. You can bet these crispy delights will be on the menu come New Year’s Day.
My friend Bruno comes from the north of France, where the foods of the region often resemble those of its neighbor, Belgium, more than those of the motherland. In the small town that Bruno came from, every family made waffles for the New Year. On the first of January, families would visit one another, bringing with them their good wishes for the year and sharing waffles and a drink. It was like a town-wide open house. The first year that Bruno was in Paris, he made waffles for the New Year, packed them up, and went visiting his new friends, only to find that they were shocked that someone would show up unannounced and wondered why they should be eating waffles. Call it a country mouse-city mouse moment.
But you can’t keep a good man and his waffles down. Now that Bruno’s been a Parisian for many years, he makes hundreds of waffles and takes them to his colleagues at the office, all of whom love them and love him for starting this delicious tradition.
These are made without a leavener but with lots of brown sugar and cinnamon (hallmarks of the north) and rum, too. In France, they’re baked in a special iron that turns out the thinnest-possible waffles. Not having that tool, I decided to use a pizzelle iron. The cookies might not be authentic, but they are beautiful. I use just a tiny bit of dough (these waffles are made with a firm dough, not a batter), place the ball of dough in the middle of the pattern and rejoice when it spreads in odd and off-center ways.
The waffles, which are especially crisp, are snackable as soon as they cool and even more tempting sandwiched with a simple buttercream. I make a filling with cinnamon and espresso. — Dorie Greenspan
Bruno’s New Year’s Waffles
Makes about 120 cookies
For the waffles
1¾ c (238 g) all-purpose flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp fine sea salt
1¼ c (250 g) packed light brown sugar
1 stick plus 1 Tbsp (9 Tbsp; 4½ oz; 125 g) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 large egg, lightly beaten, at room temperature
1 Tbsp dark rum or 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1. Whisk the flour, cinnamon, and salt together in a large bowl.
2. Put the brown sugar and butter in a small saucepan and warm over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves. Pour the hot mixture over the flour and mix with a sturdy flexible spatula. Blend in the egg, followed by the rum. You’ll have a smooth dough. Wrap the dough and refrigerate it overnight.
3. Heat a pizzelle maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. If you have to butter or spray it, do so for the first batch and then see if the butter in the waffles isn’t sufficient to make the iron nonstick. Have a long (and broad, if possible) icing spatula and a cooling rack at hand.
4. I use a level ½ tsp of dough for each waffle, but you might want more; make a couple and see what you like. Spoon off pieces of dough and roll them into balls between your palms. Place a ball in the center of the pizzelle iron (if your iron makes 2 pizzelles at a time, use 2 pieces of dough), close the iron, and bake for 20 to 40 seconds (pizzelle irons can vary enormously — check at 20 seconds and then continue baking until you’ve got the color you want). The waffle(s) should be golden but not set. Use the spatula to get under the waffles and transfer as gently and as quickly as you can to the rack. The waffles will crisp in a matter of seconds. Repeat until you’ve used up the dough (or you’ve got as many as you’d like).
For the filling
1 stick (8 Tbsp; 4 oz; 113 g) unsalted butter, cut into chunks, at room temperature
1½ cups (180 g) confectioners’ sugar
1½ tsp instant espresso or instant coffee
½ tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch of fine sea salt
1. Working with a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or in a large bowl with a hand mixer (or a flexible spatula), beat all the ingredients together until very smooth.
Tip: Before filling the waffles, let cool completely. The cookies are very delicate, so the best way to fill them is to put one on a flat surface, cover most of it with filling and then top with another, pressing down only just enough for it to stick to the filling.
The dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days, as can the filling; let the filling so en to a spreadable consistency at room temperature. The dough can also be wrapped airtight and frozen for up to 2 months. The plain cookies will keep for at least a week as long as they’re safe from humidity. Filled, you can keep them at room temperature for 2 days or so.