I spent a month eating at an inn that had a restaurant style belgian waffle maker. Those waffles were crisp, hot, and delicious every morning. After we left, the memory of those waffles visited my table every morning. When I saw the price tag on Hobart and other restaurant quality irons (more than $700), I decided that I could go back to the inn for less money than the purchase and not have to store the monster to boot. In the meantime, I started reading about restaurant style waffle makers and their home kitchen counter parts. The biggest different beyond style was the wattage. To answer my question: "does higher wattage make a crisper waffle?" we purchased a Chef's Choice Chrome Waffle Pro Waffle Iron 830B to replace our Salton belgian waffle iron.
Recommend this product?
The Hobarts and other restaurant irons run at around 1300 to 1500 watts. Chef's Choice Chrome Waffle Pro Waffle Iron 830B operates at 1100 Watts. There are a limited number of brands that operate above 1000 Watts (Krups, VillaWare, Cuisinart (one Hamilton Beach model is right at 1000))and those models do command a higher price than models in the 650 Watts range (Proctor Silex, Krups, Toastmaster), but the waffle quality is apparent. The latter models are available at most discount stores for under $50, while the former retail at higher end department stores for anywhere from $70 to $150. A low wattage iron (I used to have a Salton that operated at 700 Watts) does cook the waffle in the correct shape, but fails to seal in the moisture and crisp the exterior. A higher wattage iron sears the exterior of the batter as it expands into the shape, sealing in the moisture that makes a good waffle. My honest plan was to try out the Chef's Choice and exchange it for Cuisinart (1400 Watts) if I was less than satisfied.
The Chef's Choice Chrome WafflePro Waffle Iron 830B has a several nice features.
Two texture choices: Crisp exterior/moist interior or uniform texture. The former is a fast bake cycle at the highest wattage. Chef's Choices uses a quad-baking system that spreads the heat out very evenly to accomplish this. The uniform texture is a deep bake cycle to create an even texture throughout the waffle.
Color dial: A numeric dial sets color choice, otherwise known as cooking time. For a darker waffle choose a higher number. A dark waffle does not make a crisp waffle, so cooking a waffle longer in a lower wattage iron will not produce a restaurant crisp waffle. The ability to set a consistent cooking time is an advantage in that every waffle looks and tastes the same whether it is the first of the batch or the last with no guessing. The minimum cycle is 90 seconds using the crisp exterior cycle(compare that to other waffle irons and you can really see why the wattage helps).
Tone signal when ready: The "waffle ready beep" is really and extension of why the color dial is a nice advantage. All of the waffles come out the same when you use the color dial and tone signal. The signal is loud on this model, so don't start this up when people are trying to sleep. That means no midnight waffle parties when the kids are in bed.
Design: The Chef's Choice iron is chrome on top with a plastic base that wraps up around the back. The chrome does get very hot, so this appliance should be used within reach of small children. The plastic provides an area to wrap the cord and allows the iron to be stored upright in the cabinet. The interior includes a reasonably deep well to hold the waffle with a groove around the outer edge to catch overflow.
I would say that 1100 Watts is the bare minimum to produce a near-restaurant quality waffle. The Chef's Choice Waffle Pro offers the minimum wattage with features that make the preparation of a batch of waffles for a family of four simple a snap.
My husband uses Krusteaz Complete to make a eggy waffle
1 cup Krusteaz Complete Buttermilk Pancake Mix
1 tablespoon oil
3/4 cup milk (enough to make a smooth batter the consistency of thick buttermilk)
Whisk together until smooth. Use 1/2 cup batter for each waffle. When waffle is finished cooking (we like it set on 3.5 and "crisp exterior"), set the finished waffle on a wire cooling rack if it will not be eaten immediately.
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Amount Paid (US$): 70