Experimenting not just with toppings, but with purees and mix-ins to the batter, Kelly Allen, line chef, has built an entire repertoire of specialty waffles for Fletcher-Allen Health Care’s breakfast time lineup.
When the café was renovated a few years ago, good-quality “flip style” waffle irons were part of the plan. From there, Allen saw possibilities for some truly unique offerings. He starts with plain, premade waffle batter and is always “looking for ways to jazz things up with something different,” he says.
The seasonal transitions of Burlington, VT, provide inspiration in terms of ingredients and flavor profiles. The waffles in the fall and winter include pumpkin (with pumpkin puree, cinnamon and nutmeg mixed into the batter, plus a splash of vanilla extract to round out the flavors) or gingerbread, “a great waffle with all those warming spices.”
The pumpkin waffle was developed with help from a staff dietition, and uses wheat flour. Other waffles are a little more indulgent.
“A lot of people love a little chocolate in the morning, and with Executive Chef Richard Jarmusz’s help, I developed a great chocolate pancake recipe that does not include chocolate chips,” Allen says.
Chocolate chips proved to be a little too molten for the café’s purposes, so cocoa powder mixed with a touch of butter and then stirred into the batter does the trick. The chocolate waffles can then be topped with strawberries or wild berries in the summer, for example. Whipped cream from a local dairy tops things off nicely.
Around Thanksgiving, Allen created waffles with dried cranberries, nutmeg, brown sugar and vanilla mixed into the batter, and those were a big hit. Allen notes that it’s important to swirl the batter periodically during the “make to order” time, or else “all the cranberries will end up in the last waffle.”
One waffle creation turned out to be “a huge fail,” however, Allen says.
“A lot of people around here drink either coffee or Mountain Dew in the morning,” he says. “So I thought about the flavors in Mountain Dew: Could that work in a waffle?”
He combined lemon and lime zest for a lemon-lime waffle that customers just did not go for, he says. That’s the thing about experimenting though, sometimes you have some flops on the way to even more winning waffles.