The first stroopwafel I ever had was from Trader Joe’s, but what a magical moment it was. I had found my favorite cookie. My teeth hit the edge and crunched through a thin layer of crispy waffle batter, continued on through softer waffle, then hit pay dirt: the caramel syrup. As my teeth came together, the caramel syrup just barely squeezed out onto my tongue. I had a crispy, chewy, gooey amalgamation in my mouth that was sweet but not too sweet, with just a hint of spice to keep it interesting.
I woke up lying on a pile of plastic packages that used to have stroopwafels in them. Oh my god. What happened? I had enough for the party this weekend; there are supposed to be 30 people. Let me check the cabinet. Oh. Oh no…
So what is a stroopwafel exactly? It translates to “syrup waffle,” which couldn’t be a more accurate description. It’s gooey caramel syrup sandwiched between a thin waffle sliced in half. Buttery, crisp, chewy and spiced with a little cinnamon, it’s a masterpiece of flavor and texture. I really wanted to do a stroopwafel recipe for you guys, but it would basically start out like this: “Step 1: Buy a very specific type of waffle iron.” That would include me also buying a new waffle iron, so today we’re going skip it. But don’t worry, the ones you can buy are fantastic.
Stroopwafels were born in the city of Gouda in South Holland, either in the late 18th or early 19th century (there is some dispute as to the exact origin). The original version was little more than leftover breadcrumbs at the end of the day mixed with some syrup. It eventually evolved into a form similar to what we see today, and by the mid-19th century there were roughly 100 stroopwafel makers in Gouda. Later, in the 19th century, people started making them at home with special irons made specially for extra-thin waffles. By the 1960s, there were 17 factories in Gouda alone.
When you buy premade stroopwafels, you’ll get something that’s slightly crispy and slightly chewy. But if you’re having them fresh off the press in the Netherlands, you’ll see some variation in both level of crispness in the waffle and level of gooeyness in the syrup in the middle. For example, longtime Amsterdam confectioner Lanskroon makes large stroopwafels that are a bit more crisp and flat on the outside and extra-gooey on the inside. They’re a phenomenal treat, but I prefer the standard ones that are a bit more chewy, and just a little less gooey.
So should you buy a stroopwafel iron and make some? I want to say yes, but only you know if you have space for another appliance. I don’t at the moment, but you better believe I’m gonna try it out with my Belgian waffle maker just to see what happens.