Recently, I heard my grandpa praying before a meal. The whole family was together for dinner — my grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, my cousins’ kids. Grandpa always prays to bless our family dinners with phrases that have remained nearly unchanged for decades, and the sound of his voice, the cadence and rhythm of his prayer is something quite familiar. While listening to his “thys” and “thous”, my mind was whisked away to my childhood, when he would pray before dinner in the same manner. I saw through my closed eyelids the lacquered finish of my grandparents’ kitchen table in their farm house, at the end of a long gravel road, set with placemats and their Corningware dishes. His prayer, a sound so commonplace, so habituated in my memory, was like hearing the doorbell and getting up to answer it; my grandpa prays for a meal; then we eat.
And eat well.
And in my memory, we were going to eat chocolate waffles. And I could not wait.
My grandparents would watch us often as kids, while my parents went on a dinner date or maybe a short weekend trip away together. We loved staying with my grandparents because a) soda-ban exemption and b) television-ban exemption. My only childhood experiences with Pepsi, Steve Urkle or Star Trek: Deep Space Nine were thanks to my grandparents’ relaxed rules. We loved it so much that we would all cry “nooohhhh!” when my parents came in the door to pick us up. We wanted to stay forever.
Best of all, we could have dessert for dinner. Dessert as dinner!
We always begged my grandma to make chocolate waffles. But we had to wait til Grandpa was finished praying before we could dig in. I was an impatient child. I don’t really remember what those waffles tasted like, exactly, but Nathan and I just bought our first waffle iron and what do you know, chocolate waffles were the first thing that came out of them.
These waffles are not very sweet, which is why I love them. They sing with a buttermilk batter and flecks of bittersweet chocolate, if you want to add some. I can already affirm that they are delicious fresh off the waffle iron with a dollop of sweetened whipped cream, or with butter and maple syrup, which I’m pretty sure is how Grandma served them. But spreading some vanilla ice cream between these triangles of deeply-cravassed waffle was my best variation yet. The intensely chocolate batter, sprinkled with some smokey Maldon sea salt, is the perfect accoutrement for velvety, rich vanilla ice cream.
These are so good.
It’s still summer, yes it is, despite Halloween’s arrival in stores….. and you might need an ice cream sandwich to get you through the last few warm weeks. Later maybe you can stay up past your bedtime watching Family Matters. Don’t forget to say your prayers.
Salted chocolate waffle ice cream sandwiches
makes 12 seven-inch waffles or 24 ice cream sandwiches
waffle recipe adapted from Alton Brown
7 ounces (1 1/2 cups) flour
1 3/4 ounces (3 tablespoons) sugar
1 1/2 ounces (1/2 cup) cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt (less if using table salt)
4 tablespoons melted butter, or coconut/olive/vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups buttermilk
2 – 4 ounces semisweet baking chocolate squares or chips, shaved or chopped (optional)
- flakey smoked sea salt, such as Maldon, or a finishing salt of your choice
- 1 pint vanilla bean ice cream or frozen yogurt
Begin by preheating your waffle iron according to manufacturer’s directions.
This batter is not very thick so I like to use a ladle to pour onto the hot waffle iron. Sprinkle quickly with a pinch of finishing salt before closing. Cook until just becoming crisp.
Allow waffles to cool completely — if you’ve got the space, use cookie cooling racks, because waffles stacked on each other become soggy. At this point they can be sealed in plastic bag in the fridge until you’re ready to fill with ice cream if you want to cook the waffles ahead.
To assemble sandwiches, let ice cream sit out for 20 – 30 minutes to soften. Separate each waffle into four triangles or squares. Scoop about 1/2 cup onto one section and top with another quarter, pressing gently. Freeze in a single layer until firm, after which they can be stacked in an air-tight container for storage (up to 2 weeks). Enjoy!