Crispy, fluffy buttermilk Belgian waffles with a hint of Meyer lemon and vanilla bean and topped with threads of candied citrus peel for a delightful crunch and an extra pop of citrus flavor.
TL;DR—these waffles are a mouthful of sweet, waffled sunshine. They are perfectly golden brown and crispy on the outside, tender and custardy in the middle, lemon-scented and topped with a pile of delicate candied citrus peel that is honestly what takes these waffles from ordinary to extraordinary.
I’ll admit, the waffles themselves are pretty standard as far as buttermilk waffles go, ever so subtly scented with lemon. When I first tasted them I definitely thought they needed more lemon flavor, but, once I added on the candied citrus, it turns out that the lightly lemony waffle was absolutely perfect to begin with, no further testing necessary.
Seriously though. The candied citrus is everything. Without it, these waffles are nothing out of the ordinary. But with the candied citrus piled on top… well, now they’re something to write home about. Hell, you should probably call home and tell mom to make these waffles immediately because a letter would take too gosh darn long (and god forbid your mom misses Meyer lemon season! The horror!)
Meyer lemon season won’t last forever, so might I suggest making these waffles ASAP? Or at the very least, candy some peel and freeze some juice and zest so you can make these waffles all spring and summer long.
(Also, speaking of Meyer lemons, I recently read this intriguing article about their namesake, Frank Meyer, and the other contributions he made to our food culture as we know it today. Fascinating stuff!)
To make candied citrus peel, most recipes will tell you to take off swaths of peel using a vegetable peeler, then tediously scrape off any residual pith and then slice into thin ribbons. Basically the same process for preparing citrus for marmalade.
With that in mind, I figured my ribbon marmalade method would work just as well for candied citrus. I find this method to be far easier to prep, and the final consistency is finer and more delicate. Not to mention the super thin ribbons of peel will cook more quickly than thicker strips too, so you’ve just saved yourself a good hour of time (score!)
For this method, you’ll need what I call a ribbon zester, which produces spaghetti-like ribbons of citrus peel with little to no pith. I’ll do two passes over each section of the fruit, the second time zesting the strips of peel left after the first pass. The firmer your citrus is the easier this will be (chilling the fruit first also helps).
You can easily whip up a big batch of candied citrus; feel free to double or even triple the recipe below. Once thoroughly cooled and coated in sugar (I like to leave the citrus out in the open overnight, it helps it get even crunchier), the candied peel will keep in an airtight container for up to 2 months.
I used a mix of 2 Meyer lemons, 1 regular lemon, and 1 blood orange (although I will note, the pretty red color of the blood orange peel completely cooked out – you can’t differentiate the blood orange from the Meyer lemon in the final product.) The combination of flavors is quite nice though, and for that reason I’d still recommend using a mix of citrus here instead of just all one kind.
Also, the leftover citrus syrup is basically liquid gold, so definitely don’t throw it away! Strain it off and store it in a jar in the fridge, add it to cocktails (like this Sicilian Gin Spritz which conveniently calls for a Meyer Lemon Vanilla Syrup which is essentially what you have) or stir some into your morning yogurt. Trust me on this one.
Because when life gives you lemons… make waffles. Obviously.
What’d you think I was going to say? Lemonade? Psssh.
For Candied Citrus:
- 1/2 cup ribboned citrus peel (from about 4 mixed citrus fruits, preferably organic)
- 1 cup granulated sugar, plus more for coating
- 1/4 cup corn syrup
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
For Meyer Lemon Waffles:
- 2 large eggs
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 1/2 cups (10 3/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon Meyer lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon Meyer lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or paste
- For candied citrus, zest citrus using a ribbon zester to peel of long thin ribbons of peel without the pith. Alternatively, use a vegetable peeler to peel thin strips of citrus skin, getting as little of the white pith as possible, then thinly slice into very thin strips.
- Place citrus peel in a small saucepan and cover with filtered water. Bring to a simmer. Strain off water, then return blanched peel to saucepan and cover with fresh water. Bring to a simmer again, then strain and repeat one more time. This blanching process will help remove any bitterness from the peel.
- Return saucepan to medium heat. Add 1 cup filtered water and sugar and stir to hydrate. Add corn syrup and warm, stirring gently until sugar is dissolved. Add drained citrus peel and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat and let simmer for about 1 hour (if your peel is more thickly sliced, this could take up to 2 hours) until peel is tender and translucent but still retains its color. Strain, reserving syrup for another use.
- Spread candied peel in a single layer on a sheet of parchment paper until cool to the touch and tacky. Sprinkle with about 1/4 cup of sugar and toss to fully coat candied peel with granulated sugar, breaking up any clumps as you go (the sugar will keep the pieces from sticking together). Spread out again and let dry for a few hours, or overnight if possible. Transfer to a jar or other airtight container, and store in a cool, dry place for up to 2 months.
- For waffles, combine eggs and sugar in a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Beat on medium high speed for 2 to 4 minutes or until it is pale yellow in color and falls in thick ribbons off of the beater.
- In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add buttermilk, vegetable oil, lemon juice, zest and vanilla and stir until combined and no dry ingredients remain. Add egg mixture and fold until incorporated, being sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl to fully incorporate the eggs into the batter.
- Preheat waffle maker and spray lightly with cooking spray. Fill with batter (amount will vary depending on the specific waffle maker you are using) and cook according to manufacturer’s instructions until waffles are golden brown and crispy on the outside. For our waffle maker (the KitchenAid Waffle Baker), we used 1 cup of batter and cooked them for approximately 4 minutes each. Gently remove from waffle iron and place on a wire rack; repeat with remaining waffle batter. You can also put the cooked waffles on a baking sheet in a warm oven so that they stay warm while you cook the rest of the batter. These waffles also freeze beautifully; reheat in a 350 degree oven until crispy and warmed through.
- To serve, top warm waffles with a pat of butter, a drizzle of maple syrup, and a generous sprinkling of candied citrus peel.