I have to admit: I’m not always the most imaginative when it comes to buying souvenirs. However, once friends and relatives got bored of the compulsory tulip bulbs, wooden shoe keyring, and Van Gogh ‘memorabilia’ I was bringing back from the Netherlands I decided to switch to a typical Dutch delicacy: the stroopwafel. This syrupy – sticky dessert ended up being a sort of ‘marmite of souvenirs’ – some friends absolutely loved them while others have forbidden me to ever surprise them with a package again.
The stroopwafels, or better known in English as the ‘syrup waffle’ or ‘caramel waffle’ originated in Gouda, modestly referred to as the cheese capital of the Netherlands, back in 1784. According to urban legend a resourceful local baker came up with the idea for the waffle combining leftover breadcrumbs with syrup. It quickly became a popular snack amongst the poorer people initially – at one point it was referred to as ‘the poor man’s cookies’ as it was a cheap snack to produce, however soon it became a favourite across all classes. This also led to the boom in stroopwafels bakeries – by the 19th century Gouda boasted 100 of these bakeries across the city. Later on they started selling stroopwafels at markets and the 20th century saw the mass production of stroopwafels in factories. Until 1870, Gouda was the only city in the Netherlands that had stroopwafel bakeries, nowadays only four of those bakeries have survived.
Stroopwafels are made in a special waffle iron by baking a medium sized ball of the batter, which is a mixture of flour, butter, brown sugar, yeast, milk, and eggs, until brown. Once the waffle is baked but still warm it is cut into two halves and filled with a warm syrup of brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon. The two halves with the syrup in the middle are pressed together again in the iron and…voila!!!
- The most typical way of devouring a stroopwafel is with a cup of hot coffee or tea. As most of the stroopwafels nowadays are purchased in grocery stores they lack the gooeyness of fresh waffles, so the Dutch tend to place them on top of a cup filled with hot beverage. In a couple of seconds the syrup in the waffle will melt and will give the impression that you just got those stroopwafels at your friendly neighborhood market.
- Another sure way of introducing stroopwafels into your diet is by using it as an ingredient for various sweet goods such as the stroopwafelcake, the stroopwafel cupcakes or the stroopwafel caramel cupcakes.
- If you are lucky enough to live in or around the Netherlands you’ll likely come across the ice-cream brand Hertog which also recently announced a new flavor, you guessed it: stroopwafel. Their website has some great recipes that use this particular ice cream. You’ll need to get those dictionaries out as the site is only available in Dutch.
How to get your greedy hands on this Dutch delight? Well, you can make them on your own; there are plenty of recipes online. And otherwise if you don’t live in the Netherlands there is a plethora of sites selling this Dutch sweetness. Go on… we won’t tell your dentist…