Recipe: Holiday Brunching with Spiced Pearl Sugar Waffles

The Liege waffle is something very unique that I wrote about here in a previous entry. We know waffles as being similar to pancakes - made from a simple batter. In Belgium, the Liege waffle is actually a sweet yeast dough that is mixed with pearl sugar* (literally, little pearls of sugar) and cooked on a piping hot cast iron waffle mold. Since the pearl sugar is distributed through the dough in big chunks (pearls), the sugar caramelizes as it heats up and creates a unique, nutty flavor. It's insanely delicious! 

These waffles don't have the same texture as a Liege waffle since I'm just using a simple batter, but the addition of pearl sugar really adds something special. They pack a spicy holiday punch without being overwhelmingly sweet. 



1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 tbsp. sugar
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tbsp. grape seed oil
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1/2 tsp. freshly-ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
pinch of cayenne pepper
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. aluminum-free baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/3 - 1/2 cup pearl sugar


1. Sift the flour, spices, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a large mixing bowl. 

2. In another bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, 1 tbsp. sugar, and oil until combined.

3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and whisk gently just until combined (some small lumps are fine).

4. Allow the batter to sit at room temperature while your waffle iron warms up, about 10 minutes.

5. Spray the waffle iron and pour an appropriate amount of batter to make one waffle (each machine differs). Before closing the iron, sprinkle 1-2 tbsp. of pearl sugar into the batter. The pearls will melt and caramelize as the waffles cooks, giving it a unique flavor and crunch. 

The secret to great waffles is a screaming hot waffle iron. If it's not hot enough, your waffles will steam and end up soggy. 

Serve with powdered sugar - or enjoy on their own!

*Pearl sugar is gaining popularity and can be purchased at many gourmet food stores (Surfas L.A., Sur La Table, Cost Plus World Market, Whole Foods) as well as online. 

Tip: If you do not want to buy pearl sugar, you can use sugar cubes. Simply place the sugar cubes in a folded kitchen towel and lightly smash them with a pestle, large spoon, or the back of a small skillet. You want the sugar "pearls" to end up being the size of peas.