What are they?
Crisp, golden, deeply gridded batter cakes baked in a waffle iron or electric waffle-maker. Descendants of the 12th-century French walfre and Dutch wafel, they're gaining ground on local menus as all-day breakfasts, desserts, and increasingly, as savoury snacks.
Where is it?
Respect, please, for the duck waffles at Melbourne's Cumulus Up wine bar, stuffed with shredded duck confit and topped with foie gras parfait and sticky prunes.
At the light, bright, new Touchwood Cafe, chef Tristan White's heart-shaped wholemeal waffles come with peanut butter and jelly (reduced raspberry compote) and whipped peanut butter ricotta and peanut brittle. ''It's awesome,'' says owner Jamie McBride. ''A lot of people order it after their bacon and eggs, and share it as a breakfast dessert.''
In Sydney, it's the waffles at Surry Hill's Paramount Coffee Project that take the cake. Head chef Brett Barbuto not only cooks sweet waffles with peanut butter ice-cream, dulce de leche and hazelnuts on the Roller Grill waffle iron, but also savoury waffles topped with guacamole, sour cream, grilled peppers, fried eggs, and bloody mary salsa. ''People were a little unsure how to approach eating them at first,'' says Barbuto.
''Now we're selling almost as many as the crab po' boy.''
Why do I care?
Because that deep gridwork of dimples traps all the butter, maple syrup, honey, cream or ice-cream your heart can cope with.
Can I do them at home?
Yes, as long as you have an old-school waffle iron or a flash new Breville waffle-maker (from $59.95).
Cumulus Up, 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne, 03 9650 1445
Touchwood, 480 Bridge Road, Richmond, 03 9429 9347
Paramount Coffee Project, 80 Commonwealth Street, Surry Hills, 02 9211 1122.
Buttermilk waffles with maple bacon butter
For super-crisp bacon, lay the rashers flat on an oven tray and bake at 190 degrees for 10 minutes.
2 large eggs, separated
2 tbsp melted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
225g self-raising flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch of sea salt
1 tbsp caster sugar
Maple syrup for serving
For the maple bacon butter:
100g softened butter
1 tbsp maple syrup
4 rashers crisp bacon
1. To make the maple bacon butter, crush the crisp bacon into bits and beat into the butter with the maple syrup. Chill until required.
2. Whisk the egg yolks lightly then whisk in the buttermilk, melted butter and vanilla. Sift the flour, cinnamon and salt into a second bowl and stir in the sugar. Make a well in the centre and add the egg mixture, mixing lightly until smooth.
3. Beat the egg whites until stiff and fold into the batter.
4. Heat the waffle-iron or waffle-maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.
5. To cook the waffles, ladle the batter into each mould and cook for 5 minutes or until golden. Serve with maple bacon butter and extra maple syrup.