Learn the science behind:
Stroopwafels – Where Cookie & Candy Science Meet
Stroopwafels are probably one of the most well-known Dutch cookies out there. They are famous for their crunchy waffle cookies on the outside and sweet syrup on the inside. Making stroopwafels is a little bit of a project, but a fun one, that will teach you something new about both cookies and candy!
A stroopwafel is a filled waffle cookie
Despite being Dutch, and having eaten stroopwafels for most of my life, I’ve always thought stroopwafels were made with two thin waffles, in between which you’d spread a syrup. However, that’s not the case. Stroopwafels are actually made from just one waffle that’s cut open in the middle and filled with a syrup. It’s how you ensure the top and bottom fit together smoothly.
How to make stroopwafels
Stroopwafels consist of two main components: the waffles and the syrupy filling. They start out as two separate components, and all the way to the end, you bring the two together. Apart from a little cinnamon, a stroopwafel relies on basic ingredients to create flavor and color.
Waffle starts out as a dough
Unlike many popular breakfast waffle recipes, the waffle doesn’t start out as a batter. Instead, it looks more like a cookie dough, and contains a bit of yeast. It’s why the dough needs to proof, to let the yeast do its thing. The dough doesn’t greatly increase in size during proofing, but, the yeast does produce tiny air bubbles that help ensure it doesn’t turn into a hard waffle during baking.
It’s baked in a waffle iron
Stroopwafels aren’t baked in an oven. Instead, they’re baked in between two hot plates, at home, that would be in a waffle iron. To do so, you need a waffle iron suitable for making thin waffles with a thickness of only a few millimeters.
Since the waffle is so thin, it cooks very quickly. During this time, the dough turns a nice brown color – thanks to the Maillard reaction. Since you’re heating on both sides simultaneously, the whole waffle cooks evenly. Also, the flour and egg (if present) cook, and moisture evaporates. The evaporation of moisture is crucial to getting the final desired texture.
They’re soft when hot, hard when cool
To make stroopwafels you need to work relatively quickly. The waffles are soft when they just come out of the waffle iron. They can be sliced quite easily at this point. Once they’ve cooled down though, they turn hard and it’s almost impossible to still cut them.
The reason for this transition is twofold. Firstly, the waffles contain butter (or margarine). Butter is soft when warm, but sets when cool. It firms up the waffle. The major culprits for this chance are the water and sugar in the waffle though! To explain, we need to have to a look at the concept of glass transitions.
Certain concentrations of sugar syrup form a hard glassy structure when cooled down. It’s how hard candy comes to be. Under the right conditions, this can happen in baked products as well. A baked stroopwafel only contains a few percent of moisture and a good amount of sugar. When this is still warm it’s soft and pliable. However, when it cools down, the sugar and water organize themselves in such a way that they form this hard structure!
Syrup: controlling consistency
A good stroopwafel syrup is firm enough to remain within the waffle, but, liquid enough to be spread out. Making the syrup is all about controlling its consistency. This starts by cooking a sugar syrup, with plenty of butter to a specific temperature. This temperature ensures that you evaporate just the right amount of water (read why here). A hot syrup is still very liquid. It is not yet suitable to put onto the waffles. Iit will run right off! As the syrup cools down it becomes thicker and more viscous.
Generally speaking, the syrup is ready to be put on the waffles while it’s still slightly warm to the touch, but has lost most of its heat. The good thing about these syrups though is that you can easily re-heat them slightly to soften them, making it easier to spread.
How to eat stroopwafels
You can eat stroopwafels, as is. Straight from the packet, into your mouth. But, there’s a not-so-secret way to make them taste even better. It does require you to drink a hot drink with your stroopwafel, such as coffee or tea. Just place your stroopwafel on top of your hot cup of something for a minute or so. The heat will warm up your stroopwafel and cause the syrup inside to become warm and flowy again! Even if your stroopwafels are a little stale, this will ensure they taste great again.