Coming to you live from an expansive Texan kitchen with beguilingly shiny black countertops, it’s me! I have returned! And I’ve got a recipe for you – something I made for lunch today. It come into existence a couple weeks ago, though. One 20-hour road trip with my best friend through the hills of Georgia and the endless swamps of Louisiana and five days of sailing, kayaking, movie-watching, and eating later, there I was, sitting at the kitchen table while a thunderstorm whipped angrily at the forest that is our yard. It was gloomy. So I cooked.
Now I bring good tidings of great waffles that shall be unto all people. For unto us some pears were given, and unto me some cranberries were brought. So what’s a person to do but to shout, “Gloria in excelsis Deo!” and make some waffles as a vehicle for thick, sweet compote? There is no other option, so that’s what I did. Never mind the fact that I’d already planned to can, bake, and otherwise cook my way through the entire day. Ah well, sometimes you just have to follow your heart – er – stomach.
My stomach informs me that cranberries beautiful, flavorful, and excellent all year round. The rulers of the grocery store realm, however, seem to believe that cranberries should only be accessible during the holiday season. As if that’s the only time of the year one would want to eat tart, brilliantly red berries! How absurd. We like to buy up bags of cranberries in December and January and freeze them for use anytime, grocery store or no grocery store. They freeze splendidly, and I highly recommend it.
That way, you can make this cranberry pear compote any time. Because, it’s pretty tasty. The mild sweetness of the pears and a bit of sugar balances the tart bite of the cranberries without masking it entirely. And there’s just a hint of nutmeg and vanilla to warm everything up and bring it all together. And, bonus, it’s pink! While I personally detest wearing the color pink – it is, in my mind, nothing more than a sickly, sad excuse for its pure, vibrant cousin red – I quite enjoy eating it. “Eat the rainbow,” they said. And I took them seriously. Even though pink isn’t in the rainbow colors song.
The waffles would be just your average, hearty whole wheat waffles, except that they’re bursting with cinnamon. This can be achieved two ways: drizzling cinnamon sugar atop the waffle batter in the waffle maker or folding the cinnamon sugar into the batter beforehand*. While the former method is more dramatic, as it produces a swirling trench of crystalized cinnamony goodness in the top of the waffle, it does tend to make the waffle iron messy. However, that is easily remedied by pouring water on the surface of the griddle (with it off, mind you) and letting it soak for a while, before scrubbing the sugar bits off with a vegetable brush. Should you wish to avoid sugar trenches and waffle iron cleaning, you can just fold the cinnamon into the batter, for a more subdued, cinnamon-speckled waffle.
But let’s be clear. The real star of the show here is the cranberry pear compote. Of course, the cinnamon waffles compliment it quite perfectly, I’d say. In fact, I think they taste a bit like that cinnamon toast cereal. But if you make nothing else, make the compote.
Now a word on the photos accompanying this post. Firstly, it should be noted that I clearly have no idea how to take a flattering picture of compote. Secondly, this new kitchen has even worse light than our previous kitchen. Thirdly, despite performing admirably the first time I attempted this recipe, our waffle iron decided to rebel today – the day I took pictures. Hence the pile ‘o waffles. How annoying. It must have just been cantankerous, because the waffles stuck less and less as I doggedly (foolhardily?) continued to make them. I tested out a flour-and-water-only waffle in the iron, and it stuck a bit, too. That and my previous success, assure me that the fault was the waffle iron’s and not the recipe’s – which I shall now present to you.
- 2 cups white whole wheat flour
- 1 + 3/4 cup milk
- 1 + 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons oil (canola or coconut or even melted butter – whatever!)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 egg (optional)
Cinnamon sugar ingredients:
- 2 tablespoons butter (or oil)
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- *2 tablespoons sugar (if folding in) OR 1/4 cup sugar (if drizzling on top)
Combine all the waffle ingredients in a large bowl and mix until just combined. If you chose to use the egg to add some extra fluffiness to the waffle, separate the yolk from the white. Mix the yolk in when you mix everything else together, and whip the white until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the egg white into the batter. Combine the cinnamon sugar ingredients. *If mixing the cinnamon sugar into the batter, use only 2 tablespoons sugar, and fold it in at the same time as the egg whites. Pour about 3/4 cup waffle batter into your hot waffle iron. *Drizzle about a tablespoon of cinnamon sugar mix on top of waffle batter. Cook according to waffle iron’s directions and/or your preference. Enjoy with cranberry pear compote.
Cranberry Pear Compote
- 1 + 1/4 cups cranberries (either fresh or frozen, but most certainly not dried)
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 large, ripe pear, ~2 cups chopped
- 1 pinch nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch + 1 tablespoon water (optional)
Combine cranberries, water, and sugar in a small saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil. Uncover and reduce to a simmer until most of the cranberries’ skins have popped open. In the mean time, cut the pear into 1/2- to 1/4- inch pieces. Mash the cranberries a bit with a potato masher. Add the pear, nutmeg, and vanilla when the cranberries have popped. Continue simmering for 5 to 10 minutes, until pears are soft. Smash with potato masher until desired texture is reached. Remove from heat. If you prefer your compote to be thicker, mix cornstarch and water, and then pour mixture into compote. Stir. Enjoy compote warm with waffles or pancakes or toast or by the spoonful.
And here’s an idea of what may be coming up next: Mocha Meringues or Cranapple Pie with a Ritz Cracker Crust. Or something else entirely. No telling.