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Pecan Waffles with Maple-Pear Sauce

Sifting the dry ingredients and beating the egg whites before adding them to the batter are the secrets to crisp, light waffles. If you're a maple syrup lover, try the darker Grade B syrup. It has a stronger maple flavor than the more subtle Fancy Grade.

Ingredients:

For the maple-pear sauce:

  • 4 firm yet ripe Anjou or Bartlett pears, peeled,
     halved, cored and cut into slices 1/4 inch thick
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Grated zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 cup pure maple syrup, preferably Grade B

For the waffles:

  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbs. sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 3/4 cups milk
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 6 Tbs. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
     and cooled
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Pinch of cream of tartar

Directions:

To make the sauce, place the pear slices in a bowl and toss with the lemon juice. In a large, nonaluminum saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the pears and sauté gently just to coat with butter, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the water, lemon zest and maple syrup, reduce the heat to low, and simmer just until the pears are tender but still hold their shape, about 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pears to a bowl. Increase the heat to high and boil until the cooking liquid is reduced to about 1 cup, about 10 minutes. Pour 1/2 cup of the reduced liquid over the pears; reserve the remaining syrup separately. Keep warm or serve at room temperature.

To make the waffles, put the pecans in a small, dry fry pan over medium-low heat and toast, stirring continuously, until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the fry pan and set aside.

Preheat a waffle maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.

In a bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. In a small bowl, whisk together the milk, egg yolks, melted butter and vanilla. In a third bowl, combine the egg whites and cream of tartar and beat with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Stir the milk mixture into the flour mixture, beating until smooth, then stir in the pecans. Finally, gently fold the egg whites into the batter, leaving tiny clouds of whites visible. The batter will look sandy.

Ladle enough batter onto the waffle maker for 1 waffle and immediately close the lid. Cook until all the steaming stops and the waffle maker opens easily, or according to the manufacturer's instructions. Using a fork, carefully loosen the waffle from the waffle maker. Keep warm until all the waffles are cooked or serve immediately. Repeat with the remaining batter.

To serve, top the waffles with the maple-pear sauce. Pass the reserved syrup at the table.
Makes 6 to 8 waffles.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Lifestyles Series, Brunch Entertaining, by Janeen Sarlin (Time-Life Books, 1999).