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Recipe: For sweet, comforting crunch, bake some waffles for dinner

  • TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE
                                A drizzle of real maple syrup gives a ham and cheese waffle sandwich a sweet finish.

    TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE

    A drizzle of real maple syrup gives a ham and cheese waffle sandwich a sweet finish.

Maple sugaring season wrapped up in the Northeast a few weeks ago, and by all accounts it’s been a pretty good year for syrup.

All those warm days followed by cool nights in March helped the sap in maple trees to flow — the sugaring process that leads to tapping the trees and kicks off the making of syrup.

Old State Farms in Emlenton, Pa., expects to produce some 1,000 gallons of its maple artisan syrup, says owner Joseph Burkett. It will be bottled throughout the year.

This got me thinking: Maybe it’s time to have waffles for dinner.

Not just ordinary waffles, but tender buttermilk ones that stand in for bread in a ham and cheese sandwich. The waffles get a drizzle of pure maple syrup on top and a slather of maple butter inside.

I used a mini waffle maker for perfect sandwich-sized waffles. The recipe calls for thinly sliced ham and baby Swiss cheese, but Gruyere, Jarlsberg or even cheddar can be used.

Waffles tend to soften if you don’t eat them immediately, so for a crispy sandwich, stick the waffles in the toaster for a minute or so before composing it.

For a more melty sandwich, wrap it in foil and bake in a 350-degree oven until the cheese has melted, around 10 minutes.

HAM AND CHEESE WAFFLE SANDWICHES

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • Generous pinch of salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or melted butter
  • Pure maple syrup, for serving
  • >> Filling
  • 6 ounces thinly sliced ham
  • 4 ounces thinly sliced baby Swiss, Gruyere or Jarlsberg cheese
  • >> Maple butter
  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup

Heat waffle iron.

Make maple butter: Combine butter and syrup in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer or by hand until well blended and fluffy. Set aside.

Make waffle batter: In medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and a large pinch of salt.

Make a well in center and add egg, buttermilk and oil. Use a spatula to mix wet and dry ingredients until just incorporated, smooth but not over mixed.

Spray heated waffle iron with a light coat of cooking spray (before the FIRST batch only).

Pour scant 1/4 cup of batter into waffle iron and cook until golden brown on both sides, 2 to 3 minutes. (When steam stops coming out of iron, waffles should be done.) Repeat to make 8 waffles.

To keep waffles crisp, transfer to a 250-degree oven after you pull them out of the iron. You also can crisp them in a toaster.

Compose sandwiches: Spread maple butter on one side of each of 4 waffles and place them on plates. Divide ham and cheese and place on top of each waffle. Cover with second waffle.

Drizzle maple syrup on top of each sandwich and serve immediately with a knife and fork. Serves 4.

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