For the twelfth edition of the European Artisanal Gelato Day, the spotlight will be on Belgium.
Each year, a different European country is chosen to select the Flavor of the Year, drawing inspiration from its traditional desserts and the most typical and representative ingredients of its land.
After the "Apfelstrudel" chosen by Austria in 2023, it's Belgium's turn in 2024 with a Flavor of the Year that pays homage to one of the country's most typical and beloved treats: the " Gaufre de Liège ," the beloved sweet waffle, crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, from Liege. The official recipe, which all gelato makers are invited to follow and customize with creativity and skill on March 24, draws inspiration from traditions and flavors of the local territory. It involves a neutral-based gelato flavored with vanilla and cinnamon, variegated with salted butter, all accompanied by a Liege waffle.
Gaufres are a type of waffle, a popular sweet worldwide with very ancient origins. The very first waffles in history originated in Greece, known as obelías, and were cooked between two hot irons over a fire. Later adopted by the Roman legions, they spread throughout Europe. However, it was in the Middle Ages that the recipe was perfected in Belgium: a Cistercian abbot created a dough with honey, cooking it on the plates used for making hosts. In medieval French, the words "wafla" and "gaufra" meant sweet, honey, beehive: a "sweet made with honey in the shape of a beehive."
The history of the waffle in Belgium is long and fascinating. Waffle makers often produced them with the city's coat of arms. When sugar was introduced to Europe, the prince of the city of Liege asked his pastry chef to create a sweet that would be the emblem of the city and include the novelty of the moment: sugar. The pastry chef made a waffle, replacing the traditional honey with pearl sugar. That sweet was such a success that, even today, the "Gaufre de Liège" is among the most appreciated in Belgium.