9 am Sunday: sugar and shortbread
As I learned in the Dutch babies episode, Jimmy fears no fat. He is a firm believer in butter, cream, and all things buttercreamy, and his waffles are no exception. Not content to settle for a normal version, he makes a shortbread waffle that is, as one might expect, heavy on the butter. In fact, the batter is rich and thick enough to be dolloped onto the waffle iron with an ice cream scoop, awe-inspiring in a way that’s both very beautiful and completely terrifying.
Rebecca’s straight husband—and comic straight man—John nearly hyperventilated at the sight. Jimmy closed the lid of the iron with cool confidence. Rebecca sipped her orange juice nonchalantly and toyed with a plate of bacon. The whole spectacle sent me into a cold sweat, some sort of strange and dreadful anticipation.
“Jimmy, what kind of syrup do you use on your waffles?” I asked by way of distraction.
“Oh, you know—just the regular pancake syrup. That’s what Rebecca likes,” he replied.
“I’m surprised you’re not a 100%-maple guy,” I said.
“That’s not nearly enough sugar, Little Bird!”* Rebecca interjected; “I need more! I’ve got to have my sugar!”
“Rebecca, maple syrup is sugar,” I reminded her, but it was a wasted effort. She's very serious about these things. When Jimmy makes waffles, Rebecca gets an entire pitcher of syrup all to herself. There’s already a cup of sugar in the batter, but that’s far from sufficient. We’re dealing here with a very unconventional woman, and her sugar needs are only appropriate—wildly immoderate, fantastically indecent, and very, very serious.
Behold, as meager illustration, her plate of waffles, and please keep in mind that this was only the first syrup pour. There would be others to follow, as well as another swipe or two of butter. In the background is her (sizable) syrup pitcher, which of course had to be emptied. If you look closely, you’ll note that each well of the waffle—itself a matrix of sugar and sugar—was swollen with syrup, barely able to hold itself together. I believe that what I witnessed was a sort of violence. A very tasty violence.
Meanwhile, over on my plate, there was less syrup—truth be told, I’m a maple snob—but a similar enthusiasm. The waffles were rich and sweet, with the tight, buttery crumb and snap of a shortbread cookie. In fact, though I’m not usually one to delay gratification, I’d be tempted to save them for dessert, with warm maple syrup and a creamy, melting scoop of good vanilla ice cream.
But then again, saving sugar for dessert would be so conventional.
*Rebecca began calling me “Little Bird” at some point during my period of employment as her Queen of Customer Service. Though I first found the nickname a bit odd and irritating, I’ve developed quite a fondness for it. And anyway, if you compare my syrup consumption with Rebecca’s, it starts to sound rather fitting.
Jimmy’s Shortbread Waffles
Adapted from the recipe book that came with his Salton waffle iron
Jimmy tells me that these waffles freeze well and reheat beautifully in the toaster—a sophisticated Eggo, if you will.
1 ¾ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
4 large eggs
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
A good squeeze of fresh lemon juice
Sift the flour and sugar together into a large bowl. In a separate medium bowl, beat the eggs with an electric beater until fluffy. Add the eggs to the flour-sugar mixture, and beat together until just combined. Add the butter and lemon juice, and mix until smooth. Do not overmix. The batter will be very thick. Use an ice cream scoop—or a 1/3 cup measuring scoop—to dollop the batter onto a heated waffle iron. Cook until golden.
Yield: 12 smallish (Eggo-size, say) waffles.