Sweet Belgium: A Waffle Experience
WAFFLES!!!!! I love waffles. It is a guilty pleasure. So, as I drive down Folly Road I would see a small sandwich board sign: Belgian Waffles and Coffee – Turn now. But I would always be driving too fast and the idea of turning around seemed silly. But seeing this sign every time I drove by (which is all the time), I would crave these delectable treats that I had many years ago while in Brussels. I craved them so badly that when I saw an imported package of 12 for sale at Costco I bought them. They were ok but certainly not fresh and I can only imagine the chemical stabilizers to keep them fresh in transit and while on the shelf. I guess if it were my only option I would be happy. Since Sweet Belgium arrived on James Island… I don’t have to settle.
So the next time as I exited Maybank Highway onto Folly Road (heading toward Folly Beach) just after the closed Nason Medical Center and then the red brick office building I caught a glimpse of that sign again – Sweet Belgium, a Belgian Waffle shop. Fortunately the traffic light just after the sign was red and I could wriggle around the backway to get to the shop. Coffee and Waffles. That is all they make. Super delish. This is going to be a test of my will power as I have to drive by this shop all the time.
The Liège Waffle
While there are several varieties of waffles, this shop makes the Belgian Liège waffle, the most common type of waffle available in Belgium today. It is is a richer, denser, sweeter, and chewier waffle. It was actually created a couple hundred years ago and made from an adapted brioche bread dough featuring chunks of pearl sugar which caramelize on the outside of the waffle when baked. Do not be fooled by the dark caramelized sugar on the outside… its delish!
For those who have never been to Belgium, the Belgian waffle is street food. It is served warm or room temp. When you get it freshly made and warm off the waffle griddle, it is best served plain or with a touch of cinnamon. You can add fruit, chocolate, whipped cream or many other toppings but that screams tourist, so when warm just stick with plain and simple. You will not be disappointed. When in Belgium you will rarely see a local eat a warm waffle with anything more than cinnamon on a Liège waffle or powdered sugar on a Brussels waffle. However, when the Liège waffle is served at room temperature that is where the Belgians get creative and eat it flavored and topped with a glaze, chocolate, almonds, lemon/lime zest, coconut and candy sprinkles, etc. Think donut.
Now I know what you are thinking….whaaattt? Liège waffle…. Brussels Waffle, American breakfast waffle? Well, there is a big difference between the Belgian Liège waffle (yeasted dough) and Brussels Waffle (yeasted batter) in taste, texture, size, depth, crispness and how it is eaten. And you are probably still thinking aren’t waffles served for breakfast with maple syrup? Well yes, there is also the American waffle. It is actually a variation of the Brussels waffle made with a batter but uses baking soda/baking powder for leavening instead of yeast. Some recipes call for the egg whites to be whipped for an even lighter waffle..
In the end the American waffle is breakfast and both Belgian style waffles is a pastry.
Bottom line, go get this pastry. It is amazing and delicious. Heck , try it as a unique dessert for a wedding or large event instead of donuts, brownies or cookies. It is a treat you will soon not forget.
Sweet Belgium 327 Folly Rd Charleston, SC 29412 843-642-6669 www.sweet-belgium.com
Stopped again on Friday!
I couldn’t help myself on Friday as I passed the shop again. Gary was home from work with an allergy flare up so, I thought I’f treat him to a warm waffle treat. I only got two 5 inch waffles so we would not be tempted further with all that sweet goodness. Mine is the plain one and Gary gets the one with powdered sugar. Oh, how I love the black caramelized sugar.