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A “hearty” showcase for local syrup

| 25 Feb 2013 | 01:21

Weekend dilemma: Pancakes or waffles? While I spend many Sunday mornings leisurely flipping pancakes to the mellow sounds of Jack Johnson’s “Making Banana Pancakes,” today my vintage Five of Hearts waffle iron (estate sale find) is calling to me. An early spring thaw means the sugar maples are yielding their sap and the best way to celebrate nature’s sweet gift is with homemade waffles.

Maple syrup comes in different grades and varies in flavor. My choice for cooking is an organic, NY State dark amber or extra dark grade B that boasts complex maple flavor. There’s no need for refined sugar in these waffles; the fruit and maple syrup in the batter gives them just the right amount of sweetness.

When I became vegan I assumed the days of enjoying scrumptious breakfast were over. Not true. Inspired by Brooklynite and cookbook author Isa Chandra Moskowitz, weekend brunch returned with a vengeance. I replaced the white flour, eggs and milk in traditional waffles with nutritious whole wheat pastry flour and either soy or almond milk. I’m using bananas in this recipe, but you can flavor yours in myriad ways: chopped tart apples, in-season blueberries, toasted pecans, a dash of nutmeg or a splash of vanilla. Occasionally I’ll toss in a handful of chocolate chips or top the waffle stack with maple coated walnuts. And always serve with a side of warm maple syrup.

Just a few waffle making pointers: Oil the iron each time to avoid sticking. Make sure the batter is thick enough and use the same amount for each waffle. Don’t spread the batter – the waffle iron will take care of that part. Make extra, freeze and then simply toast on busy weekday mornings.

Whole wheat banana waffles with maple glazed walnuts

Makes about 8 large waffles 2 cups soy milk

2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

2 medium bananas 3 tablespoons canola oil

3 tablespoons pure maple syrup 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 ¼ cups whole wheat pastry flour

1 teaspoon baking soda 1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon nutmeg Pour soy milk and vinegar into a measuring cup and set aside to curdle. In a large bowl mash bananas, then add oil, syrup and vanilla. Stir in soy milk mixture. In a smaller bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add dry mix into the liquid and stir with a wooden spoon until no large lumps remain. Don’t overmix. Follow cooking directions for your waffle iron. Top waffles with sliced bananas, maple walnuts and maple syrup.

Maple walnuts 1 cup walnut halves

4 tablespoons pure maple syrup 1 pinch salt

¼ teaspoon cinnamon Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl. Heat a small skillet on medium heat. Add walnut mixture and stir for about four minutes or until walnuts are just toasty and sticky. Allow to cool.