For those of us that love breakfast at any time of day and happen to also have a sweet tooth, a revolution is coming, and that revolution’s name is waffles.
Individually wrapped, grab-and-go Belgian waffles aren’t yet widely available in the US market, but are poised to break into it over the next year after multiple companies came to show off their wares throughout this summer’s industry conventions.
One of those — B Waffle — is manufactured in Spain by Punto Gaufre and will soon be available in club, retail, dollar and convenience stores thanks to Newberry Specialty Bakers, says spokesman Antonio Rodriguez. Rodriguez represented B Waffle at the IDDBA convention in June and works closely with all of the businesses pulling together to bring B Waffle to the US, and is particularly adamant about the authenticity of his product’s flavor and texture.
“Here I see that the real Belgian-type waffles have only been recently introduced into the retail market in the US,” he says, “and it’s having a good acceptance. And at this point, we think it’s important to share and show the American consumers how the classic and genuine Belgian waffle really is.”
While now in Spain, the owners of Punto Gaufre started making their waffles after emigrating from Belgium, and while their technique has evolved with kitchen technology, their long-held family recipe remains the same.
“The company started production of this waffle almost 30 years ago,” Rodriguez says. “What made us succeed in the market was its high quality and amazing taste — it started as a handmade and artisanal process. Now that time has passed, we use a modern and advanced system for production, but what never changes is the secret recipe.”
Also founded over 30 years ago by a Belgian couple, Bel Gaufre Belgian Waffles is a company based in Quebec that is also breaking into the US. Bel Gaufre’s waffles come in different sizes and are already sold in most of the large chain retailers in Canada, says Audrey Lépine, one of the three owners of the company. After buying the company four years ago from the original owners, the Bel Gaufre team has already doubled their sales.
“Our new factory allows us to produce a lot of waffles per day,” Lépine says. “In 2010, among the various waffles on the market, ours was declared the best by Montreal’s renowned chefs. We did only two industry shows this year and we already have US customers. We are really impressed with the reception we received from US clients; they love our product.”
While not exactly hot off the press, both of the companies’ waffles are ready to eat out of the package at room temperature or after heating in a microwave for 10-15 seconds. They differ in two ways, however. First, B Waffles come either plain (with hints of butter and vanilla flavoring baked in) or with a small sauce packet — and yes, you read that right: it comes with a sauce, not syrup.
“It’s a chocolate-hazelnut flavored sachet,” Rodriguez says, “which is the most popular topping people eat it with in Europe.”
The sauce isn’t the draw to the product, however — it’s the waffle itself that has most of the flavor. “We prefer to focus on high-quality Belgian waffle dough, with first-quality ingredients, including Belgian sugar pearls. That’s why flavored waffles (like chocolate or strawberry) aren’t included in our range of products yet. The chocolate sauce is just poured over the waffle; you don’t warm it up.”
Unlike B Waffle, Bel Gaufre doesn’t include any sauce, but does have different baked-in flavors, among them the original vanilla, chocolate, maple, and a savory waffle. But what really sets them apart, Lépine says, is the imported sugar they use in the baking process, which yields more moisture when baked and a caramelization that’s not too sweet. They’re also produced without any preservatives, so the flavor is more homemade and less processed, she says.
No matter how you prefer your waffles, the Belgians, above all, are expert when it comes to making them — on that point, everyone seems to agree.
“Everybody should have the chance to taste and discover what the original Belgian waffle tastes like,” Rodriguez says. “And being able to do it in a modern, clean and practical way — anywhere you want, as a ready-to-eat, individually wrapped product — that’s a very positive and delicious reason to try them.”