A surplus of milk—we don’t drink the stuff so our supply catches up with us sometimes—wound up as a large bowl of crème pâtissière. Naturally I wanted to bake a batch of éclairs (anyone familiar with San Francisco’s Tartine bakery? Legendary éclairs there. They warrant a Muni detour—yes, every day!— and are definitely worth waiting in the line that wraps around the corner. Try the frangipane croissant, too. I might whoop up a pan of those when I retire.)
Life, that is, children, kept me from pâte à choux-ing (gesundheit!) this week. But waffle cone iron cookies baked up crisp and quick, the simple batter requiring no leavener, no resting, and no precooking. Spread your wafers with pastry cream, stacking them if you wish to construct a Napoleonic dessert. If you don’t have a waffle cone iron (I bought mine at the thrift store, of course, but I think it’s the only one I’ve come across in resale shops), pizzelle irons (I do see these occasionally) and krumkake irons (haven’t found a used one yet) will produce perfectly acceptable wafers just as handily.
All this talk of waffle cones and irons reminds me of my friends at Traveling Bistro right here in Austin, Texas. These folks crisp up imaginatively flavored hot waffles every Sunday for their weekly brunches. Check ’em out!
WAFFLE CONES makes about 8 large wafers
- 1 local egg
- 1 local egg white
- ¼ teaspoon salt. I use Real Salt.
- 100 grams (½ cup) organic sugar. Central Market sells their own brand for $2.99 for a 2-pound bag.
- flavoring: ½ teaspoon vanilla extract and/or 1 teaspoon citrus zest
- 40 grams organic white whole wheat flour. Whole Foods offers King Arthur brand in the 5-pound bag for the best deal.
- 40 grams (1/3 cup) organic all-purpose flour. WF 365 brand is usually the least expensive.
- 2 Tablespoons organic butter, melted and cooled. I love Organic Valley. Click for a coupon.
Whisk together the eggs and salt. Whisk in the sugar and flavoring until the eggs lighten in color and consistency. An old-fashioned eggbeater shines here. Whisk in the flours then stir in the butter.
Heat up your iron hot. For adjustable irons, try the medium setting first. You’ll have to play around (or read your instruction manual!) to determine the amount of batter required and best cooking time. For my old Toastmaster model, a generous 2 Tablespoon scoop (a spring-loaded scooper helps) and a generous minute of baking produced wafers about 6½” across.
Let your cookies cool and crisp on a rack before spreading them with pastry cream (or preserves or creme de marrons or whatever you like).
A few words on crème pâtissière. Here’s a basic formula: 1 cup milk, heated to hot, whisked into (combined) ½ cup sugar, 1/8 teaspoon salt and 3 Tablespoons flour. Cook, whisking constantly, over medium-low heat until thickened and smooth, then temper in 2 egg yolks and continue to cook and whisk until the mixture boils. Be sure to boil the pastry cream, as the yolks contain an enzyme that must be deactivated lest your eggs, defiantly deliquescent, reliquefy the cream later. Pour the hot pudding (that’s what we have here!) into a wide bowl and stir in 2 Tablespoons butter and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract. Taste for sweetness and add more sugar if your tooth requires it. Place a sheet of waxed paper directly onto the surface of the crème and cut a few small slits in the paper with a sharp knife. Let cool and refrigerate right away.