Kyle’s birthday was this past Monday and because we both had to work that day, I wanted to make him a special birthday breakfast on Sunday instead. Along came these waffles in my brain; an idea I had been dreaming up since at least early August when I started to get that fall-food-itch.
These aren’t just ordinary waffles with some apple-spice topping. I mixed a quick homemade brown butter apple pie filling into my favorite waffle batter so each bite of waffle tasted like pie. And then the waffle iron went and created little toasty almost caramelized apple bits on the edges of the waffles. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend a Sunday morning. Yes, pie for breakfast is the way to go.
Oh wait. How about drizzling some maple bourbon caramel sauce over the top of these waffles? Perfection, some might say. We definitely thought so. This caramel sauce almost killed me last weekend but after two pre-7am attempts, a smoky kitchen, and a near heart attack-inducing blackened [brand new All-Clad] saucepan, I got it exactly right. I saved the pan too. A little pure maple syrup and a wee bit of booze takes caramel sauce to a completely new level. You know how they say that still waters run deep and dirty? (One of my favorite euphemisms, btw.)
This caramel is like that: innocuous at first glance but dark and mysterious at first taste…it’s sososo good. The bourbon adds just enough of a smooth kick behind the sweet maple caramel to remind you that you’re a grown up eating dessert for breakfast. The perfect topping, along with a heaping dollop of freshly whipped cream, on a birthday breakfast for my love. No go make these apple pie waffles for yours.
- Prep Time: 45min
- Cook Time: 15min
- Yield: 5 to 12 waffles, depending on waffle iron type
For the maple bourbon caramel sauce:
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp water
- Pinch of coarse salt
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- 1 tbsp bourbon
- 2 tbsp pure maple syrup
- ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
For the apple pie filling:
- 1 apple, peeled, cored, and diced small
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 3 tbsp granulated sugar
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- Dash of ground nutmeg
- ¼ tsp coarse salt
- 1 tbsp cornstarch + ½ cup water
For the waffles:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tbsp cornmeal
- 1 tsp table salt
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 2 eggs, separated
- 1 ½ cups buttermilk
- ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- Whipped cream, for serving
To make the caramel sauce: Pour the sugar in an even layer over the bottom of a small saucepan and pour the water over the sugar. Heat the pan over medium-low heat. Once the edges of the sugar start to liquify, start stirring the liquid into the sugar until all of the sugar has liquified. When the liquid turns an amber color – this can happen quickly so watch carefully – turn the heat off and slowly pour in the cream, whisking while the mixture bubbles up rapidly.
Whisk in the bourbon, maple syrup, and vanilla extract. Return the pan to medium-low heat for a couple of minutes, stirring to melt down any clumps that may have formed. Take the pan off the heat and allow the caramel to cool. It will thicken as it cools. Once it cools a little, you can either pour it into a reusable container (like a mason jar) or use it right away.
To make the apple pie filling: Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the butter. Swirl the butter around while it foams and then leave it be while it browns. Once you start to see little brown bits in the bottom of the butter, add the apples, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt, tossing to coat. Allow the apples to cook down for 5-8 minutes, until slightly softened while stirring occasionally.
Add the cornstarch to a small bowl, pour the water over it, and stir to dissolve the cornstarch. Turn the heat of the skillet down to low and mix the cornstarch slurry into the apples. Bring the liquid up to a simmer and cook until the liquid thickens into a thick sauce. Turn off the heat and allow the apple pie filling to cool to room temperature.
To make the waffles: Preheat the oven to 250° F. Heat your waffle iron according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
In a large bowl, whisk the dry ingredients together. In a separate medium bowl, warm the buttermilk in the microwave until it is warm but not hot, about 1 ½ minutes. Whisk in the egg yolks, vanilla, and melted butter.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer (or by hand with a wire whisk), beat the egg whites to almost stiff peaks – they should be about 2 inches when you pull the beaten whites up with the whisk.
Pour the wet ingredients (not the egg whites) into the dry ingredients in a thin steady stream, mixing in with a rubber spatula until they are just barely incorporated. Mix in the apple pie filling until well-incorporated but try not to overmix the batter. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter until no streaks of the egg whites remain.
Add as much batter to your waffle iron as the manufacturer’s instructions describe and cook for the appropriate amount of time. Keep the waffles warm in the oven directly on the racks – this will help to crisp them up a little while you cook the remaining waffles.
Before serving, top the waffles with whipped cream and caramel sauce.
Note: These apple pie waffles would also make an excellent dessert. Either serve with whipped cream or swap out the whipped cream for a scoop of ice cream. If you’re into making your own ice cream, this cinnamon vanilla bean version would be amazing on top of these waffles.
The maple bourbon caramel sauce can be made up to a week or two in advance if you’re looking to save some time when you make the waffles. You can also make and refrigerate the apple pie filling the night before and proceed with making the waffles as directed in the morning.
Smells Like Home original | waffle recipe adapted from this recipe