Saturday, May 10, 2008

Waffles for dinner

No, you aren't experiencing deja vu, we've done waffles before, but these are a tiny bit different.

We've tried a few Alton Brown recipes in the past, and although he's quite entertaining, in practice some of his recipes lack a little pizzaz. Not this one though.

The sweet potato waffles from the Potato, My Sweet episode are just killer.

Just one problem.

The recipe calls for SIX egg whites, (to add levity to the seriousness of the sweet potato puree. They get folded in with a spatula, like a souflee batter!) But Alton offers no plan for the leftover yolks. (Quite unlike him, I know!) So we needed an egg-yolk rich solution that goes good with waffles. Our answer: Zabaione.

Zabaione is a simple Italian custard. The recipe is simplicity itself, 1 part egg yolk to 1 part sugar to 1 part sweet dessert wine, usually Marsala. (Although we used grappa. An Italian journal friend of mine would now tell me that I've not made zabaione, because I've broken with tradition. (Brutta Figura!) But Gina DePalma's book Dolce Italiano scoffs at this, and says that different regions in Italy do indeed use different sweet wines in their zabaione.)

But I digress. So how the heck do you measure 1 part egg yolk? The Italians use half the eggshell after the egg is cracked. So for one egg, you'd use a shell full of sugar and a shell full of wine. This way the size of the egg determines the amount of sugar and wine! (Those clever culinary geniuses.) But if you live in fear of eggshells, an egg yolk is about 1 Tablespoon. So a tablespoon of sugar and a tablespoon of wine for each yolk will work out fine. So the ratio is simple, the measurement is simple, this stuff is simple, right? Not quite. The trick is in the technique.

Fill a saucepan with enough water so that the water doesn't touch the bottom of the bowl when a large bowl is placed over the saucepan to make a double boiler. Take the bowl off the boiler. Start the water and when it hits a simmer, mix the yolks in the bowl with the sugar until well combined, then slowly add the wine. Once this is all incorporated, put over the simmering water and wisk, wisk, wisk. Put it on the water and wisk for a minute, then take it off for a minute and wisk. Do this until the mixture becomes pale yellow and begins to thicken. Eventually, when you take the wisk out, the pudding falling off the wisk will begin to stand on the surface of the pudding in the bowl. At that point, it is done. Take it off the heat, and serve, or store for up to a day in the fridge, tightly covered.

These waffles, this custard, and some pure maple syrup, were just about heaven. WARNING! The grappa is strong stuff, and the zabaione comes together in about five minutes, not nearly long enough to burn off all the alcohol, so you end up with some very "mature" waffles.

We had quite a bit of zabaione left, but it lived a short and charmed life, meeting its untimely end as a guilty topping for low fat vegan chocolate brownies, which is a recipe for another day, I think.

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