Harde vafler, is, as the name suggests, “hard waffles”. Instead of creating a batter, this recipe turns into a dough, which is rolled out, measured and baked in a special heart shaped waffle iron. The harde vafler can last for a week or so when packed in a tin, like regular cookies, and are delicious with butter, strawberry jam and the Norwegian ‘gjetost’ (brown cheese or goat cheese). I haven’t seen these much in other regions other than my own (west coast of Norway), and none of my friends’ parents used to make these when growing up. Thus, I feel they are very special and I feel lucky to be able to continue this tradition in my own family.
Good old Norwegian tradition was to have your cake table be abundant and stacked during holidays and special occasions. The custom of plentiful cake platters has remained until today. What we call the “iron cookies” (meaning cookies you bake in an iron, such as waffles, goro and krumkake) are among the oldest types of cookies. There are irons so old ruin scripts are engraved in them. The reason why the hard waffles were invented, was so that they could last a longer time than the soft, more perishable waffles we know today. Hence, no leavening agent or eggs were to be found in these batters.
I love how these old recipes and methods of baking have survived for so long; the recipes I’ve collected from my own family date back hundreds of years. An important reason these foods have stayed in families is the fact that Norwegians are very fond of tradition and extremely proud of their country. Preserving methods and ways of cooking from the old days is a sign of showing respect for our ancestors while staying close to our beloved relatives who made it possible for us to enjoy the privileged lives we lead today.
Here’s a standard recipe for harde vafler:
2 cups sugar
1 cup potato starch (or use cornstarch)
2 sticks of unsalted butter, melted
2 cups whole milk
2 teaspoons hartshorn (available online through Ingebretsens or King Arthur Flour or you can use regular baking soda)
2 cups all purpose flour or enough to make a sufficiently firm dough plus extra to roll out dough
Whisk together milk and eggs in a bowl. Melt butter in a pot and set aside. In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients, and add into milk mixture. Mix in butter at the end, and add enough AP flour until dough is appropriately firm and smooth to be rolled out. Roll out elements big enough to fit in waffle iron, and bake the regular way. Cool on rack before eating or storing.
Here are some hard waffles with our very special brown cheese, “Gjetost” – sweet and tangy makes the most delicious spread!
Scandinavian food items such as hartshorn used in the above recipe can be purchased online through the following companies:
Willy’s Products (www.willysproducts.com or http://www.scandinavianfoodstore.com)
Scandinavian Specialties (www.scanspecialties.com)