Gadget Lust: Pressed Into Service

Waffle maker Marissa Rothkopf Bates

This may have been the best week in my kids' lives. I made waffles every single day, sometimes twice. They got waffles for breakfast and waffles for dinner. My children like waffles so much they will eat frozen waffles directly from the freezer, and they were ecstatic to find waffles of differing tastes and hues on their dinner plate each night.

The-all-waffles-all-the-time diet was made possible by the arrival of the grande dame of all home wafflemakers, the Breville Waffle Pro. I was initially saddened by its large footprint (16.5 inches by 12 inches by 6 inches), which makes it look like an alien spaceship. Sure, it makes four waffles at once, but a machine that large would have to be pretty special to earn a place in my cupboard-challenged kitchen. Unless, of course, we eat nothing but waffles from here to eternity.... which doesn't sound like a bad option, now that I've put the Breville Waffle Pro through its paces.

The Breville boasts of its nonstick surface, large moat to catch overflow batter, and customizability. One knob let me choose my waffle type (Belgian, classic, chocolate, buttermilk, or custom) and another offered 12 different shades of waffle. With all that, I could make a waffle even Goldilocks would think was just right.

The Breville aims to eliminate the uncertainty in cooking waffles. Choose what type of waffle you're cooking, and the timer adjusts to the type of batter (e.g., a sweeter batter requires less cooking time). It gives two little beeps when your waffle is done, with gentle beeping reminders every 30 seconds after that. The A Bit More button, lets you tack on cooking time in 30-second intervals.

My first batch of Belgian waffles came out crisp and brown on the outside and fluffy on the inside. They were perfect. For every batter I tried, there was no first batch offered as a sacrifice to the garbage gods. No weird, sticky patches of batter. No runty half-cooked waffles. And truthfully, the effortlessness of it all made me go a little nuts. I made chocolate waffles. Gingerbread waffles. Whole wheat waffles with chocolate chips.

I went on to conquer the Custom feature, which allows me to adjust cooking time to suit whatever I put between the irons. I whipped up a batter rich with Gruyere cheese and pieces of bacon. And I made garlicky mashed potato waffles with flecks of kale. Giddy with excess, I took one of the great American meals, chicken and waffles, and I made it better - yes I did. I chopped up pieces of breaded chicken tenders and blended them into a cheddar and Parmesan cheese batter. These were little marvels: crunchy and golden on the outside, and delicate and cheesy in the inside, with the occasional burst of fried chicken. And yes, we did have them with warm syrup, thanks for asking.

Being able to adjust their lightness made a big difference with the crazier concoctions I tossed into the waffle iron. Cinnamon roll waffles and chocolate chip cookie waffles came out sublime. I had tried both on my previous waffle iron, and got something that was charred on the outside but undercooked on the inside. The Breville versions were golden and crisp. Just right.

The biggest downside for this machine is the same for all waffle irons: cleanup. The nonstick surface works as promised, but no matter how careful you are, cleaning the little pools of cheese grease or crusty remnants of chocolate chips takes a little time. I use a wooden chopstick and a wedge of paper towel rather like you might a giant Q-tip to soak up oil and flick away crumbs.

It's also expensive. Do you need a $249.95 wafflemaker when a $39.99 number does a similar job? That's like asking if you need a Mercedes when a Kia will get you to work. With the Breville, you're getting a fine-tuned, well-engineered, high-performance machine that will make the journey to Waffletown much more enjoyable.

My love affair with this wafflemaker is just beginning. As long as there are things to waffleize (Pizza? Sausage? S'mores?), it will have a home in my kitchen. As far as storage goes, once it cools down, it makes a fine booster seat for the kids.