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Crispy Cornmeal Waffles

Crispy Cornmeal Waffles
Cornmeal works magic in waffles: It sweetens and lends whatever it's blended with a warm, golden glow. It also delivers the kind of crisp and crunch that won't wilt under fire. This batter, sweetened with maple syrup and tenderized with buttermilk, is wonderful made with coarse-grained, stone-ground cornmeal. Serious lovers of crisp should try making these in a waffle iron with shallow grids. Top the waffles with fresh orange segments, a simple mixture of sweetened oranges moistened with their own juice. Prepare them before you start the waffles and set aside or refrigerate until ready to serve.

Ingredients:

For the fresh orange segments:

  • 3 large, juicy oranges
  • 1 to 2 tsp. sugar, plus more as needed
  • 2 tsp. Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur
      (optional)

For the waffles:

  • 4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal, preferably stone ground
  • 2 tsp. double-acting baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 eggs

  • Maple syrup for serving

Directions:

To prepare the fresh orange segments, using a small sharp knife, peel the oranges so that you remove the white pith and expose the fruit's juicy pulp as you remove the rind. Working over a nonreactive bowl, cut between each orange segment so that the segment—minus the connecting membrane—drops into the bowl.

When you've cut all the segments, squeeze the juice from the remaining membranes into the bowl; discard the membranes. Using a spoon, pick out and discard any seeds that may have fallen into the bowl. Stir in the sugar, adjusting to taste, and the Grand Marnier. Cover and set aside.

To make the waffles, preheat a waffle iron. If you want to hold the finished waffles until serving time, preheat an oven to 200°F.

Melt the butter; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, thoroughly combine the buttermilk, maple syrup and eggs. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and whisk until the ingredients are just combined. Stir in the melted butter.

Lightly butter or spray the grids of the waffle iron, if needed. Brush or spray the grids again only if subsequent waffles stick.

Spoon out 1/2 cup of batter (or the amount recommended by the manufacturer's instructions) onto the hot iron. Use a metal spatula or wooden spoon to smooth the batter almost to the edge of the grids. Close the lid and bake until browned and crisp. Serve the waffles immediately or keep them, in a single layer, on a rack in the preheated oven while you make the rest.

Serving: Serve the waffles on warm plates with ample maple syrup. Using a slotted spoon, ladle out the orange segments and top each serving with some. If you have any waffles left over, consider serving them, reheated, alongside soup and salad at lunchtime.
Makes about six 6 1/2-inch round waffles.
Adapted from Waffles from Morning to Midnight, by Dorie Greenspan (Weldon Owen, 2001).