Pretzel Waffles with Peanut Butter Maple Syrup Sauce (a.k.a. Danger Waffles)
This recipe gets its pretzel-y taste from some nifty kitchen magic. The deep brown color and intense flavor of traditional Bavarian pretzels is achieved by, before baking, dipping the waffles in lye: a highly caustic substance made from firewood ash, useful for such things as making soap or brandishing jars of it at your opponents in your neighborhood Fight Club. The pH scale, which measures a substance's acidity, runs from 0 (hydrochloric acid), past the neutrality of water at 7, down to the pure alkali of 14. Lye hits the charts with a solid level of 13, which makes it no surprise that it can unclog drains, or take the blame for the existence of lutefisk.Danger and lutefisk aside, lye has actually been used culinarily for centuries with many brilliant results. Once diluted and cooked it poses no danger; it merely accelerates the browning by helping break down some of the proteins on the surface, which also created its distinctive taste and texture. Yet even if you muster up the bravery to take a crack at baking like it’s 1699, it will likely be difficult to find the lye in the first place. Many bakers swap it out for a far more common (and safer) alkali: baking soda.Although baking soda is an easy substitution, the pretzels it makes never have the “oomph” that lye pretzels do. It’s far too gentle make a significant dent in flavor and its comparatively mild pH of 9 results in something that tastes more like slightly soapy bread rather than a yeasty German dynamo. To get the intense flavor and dark brown crust we’re looking for, and to achieve it as quickly as possible (this is breakfast, after all), we’ll have to draw even more inspiration from Germany than just pretzels. We must develop superior engineering, coupled with a dash of their world-famous efficiency.By cooking the baking soda dry on the stovetop, the molecules will begin to react and reorganize themselves, creating carbon dioxide and water, which will immediately evaporate as steam. This process is barely perceptible to the eye, but soon you’ll see the baking soda has decreased in volume. It’s transformed from sodium bicarbonate into sodium carbonate, which has a pH of around 11. That’s just alkaline enough to create superior flavor, but not so much so that you will be putting yourself or loved ones in mortal peril. This raises the question: Why bother doing all this work in the first place? How is anyone supposed to be able to function highly enough at 8 a.m. to be dealing with breakfast at all, much less danger breakfast?Now we bring in the efficiency. Instead of a batter, you’ll be using a yeast dough inspired by Belgian Liège waffles. Make it a day ahead—you can even freeze it—and let it rest in the fridge overnight so it’s ready to go in the morning. Same goes for the supersoda, which can be stored sealed in a jar in a cupboard for damn well near forever. Most true lye pretzels are never boiled, so a quick dip in a soda bath is all they need. Truthfully you can find a reason to eat these for any meal, but breakfast is an excuse to slather them with peanut butter syrup and pretend it’s healthy. Note: Allow for one to two hours rising time.Pretzel Waffles with Peanut Butter Maple Syrup SauceIngredientsAllison and Matt Robicelli are the authors of the critically acclaimed cookbook Robicelli's: A Love Story, with Cupcakes and have created multiple internationally viral desserts.