Stroopwafels might just be the best Dutch market food of all time. It’s a sweet wafer cookie glued together with a layer of hot, sticky caramel, giving it a crispy outer layer and a gooey, chewy centre. If you’re wandering around in a Dutch market, chances are you’ll follow your nose to a stall selling these delicious sweet treats!
The Invention of the Stroopwafel
While the standard waffle is first mentioned in the 14th century French household manuscript Le Ménagier de Paris, the stroopwafel is said to have originated in Gouda in the late 1700s or early 1800s. Bakers would take their leftover cookie crumbs and squash them all together into a dough to be pressed into a makeshift waffle. Sugar syrup was used to help bind the concoction together, creating a delicious snack for the poorer classes. As time went on, the recipe was refined to have its own speciality batter.
The popularity of the stroopwafel kept growing over the 20th century. Now, over 22 million packets of Stroopwafels are sold annually. Stroopwafels have even begun to take hold in overseas markets, with different names for different countries. Americans can expect to find Dutch moon cookies or stroopies, while in Brazil they’re called Happy waffles.
The wafer is somewhere between a waffle and a cookie, made from a batter of flour, milk, butter, eggs, brown sugar, cinnamon, and yeast. It’s then pressed super thin in a waffle iron and cooked until almost crisp. Then, the hot stroop (syrup) is spread between the two waffles, and sandwiched together.
Fresh Stroopwafels vs Packaged Stroopwafels
The market stroopwafel is the best kind of stroopwafel, and can be sold as a pack of small, stacked stroopwafels, or one giant one that bends from the heat of the fresh caramel. It’s best consumed right there on the spot! You can even buy a bag of irregular bite-size offcuts, called snippers.
While not as hot and fresh as their market counterparts, supermarket stroopwafels are also a sweet treat to be reckoned with. But beware – store-bought stroopwafels tend to be much tougher, chewier (and if you’re unlucky, even rock hard), depending on the stroopwafel (and how long they’ve been sitting on the shelf)!
Luckily, there’s a solution. The traditional way to eat stroopwafels is to place it over the top of your cup of coffee or tea, so the steam heats up the waffle and melts the syrup. After a few minutes, your stale old stroopwafel is now a chewy, warm, delicious snack.
Stroopwafels vs Poffertjes
But wait, it’s not that easy to call stroopwafels the ultimate sweet snack, because there’s an equally delicious contender for the title. That’s right, it’s time to meet poffertjes! Poffertjes are sweet, fluffy, bite-sized pancakes. They’re tiny little things cooked in a scalloped pan, and served in batches of a dozen or so. Dusted with icing sugar, and sometimes chocolate syrup or other toppings, poffertjes are a lighter, less sweet, and more delicate snack than stroopwafels.
Next time you’re wandering around a market in The Netherlands, make sure you follow the smell of melted caramel and cooking waffles over to the stroopwafel stand. This sweet treat is the perfect Dutch snack to have in hand whilst exploring the cobblestone streets, or to take home and enjoy with a coffee! Perhaps you’re more of a poffertjes fan? Let me know which is the superior sweet treat in the comments!