WAFFLES, ANYONE??

Black & Decker Belgian Waffle Maker Model #WMB500 & WMB505

Model #WMB 500

Waffle Maker

Model #WMB 505

Pros: Inexpensive beginner’s model; makes tasty, moist waffles

Cons: It doesn’t beep when the waffle is done; others have had trouble with the hinge-pin breaking

Once again, Rachael Ray beckoned to me. I used to think that waffle-making was the realm of professional cooks. Rachael Ray taught me that anyone who can mix batter can make a waffle – and waffles are just the beginning. I watched her make hash browns, churros, and even waffled sandwiches in her army of waffle makers. That’s why I bought a Black & Decker Belgian Waffle Maker with the gift card my daughter gave me for my birthday. My personal experience with waffle makers is limited to a heavy duty, self-serve model at a hotel’s continental breakfast. I managed to make edible waffles under the most ridiculous conditions, including following someone who thought waffles need a charcoal crust.

The Black & Decker Belgian Waffle Maker is easy to carry – especially important to me because I have to get it from the pantry and lift it to the counter. It makes a circular deep-pocketed waffle. The handles stay cool to the touch while it’s baking. There is a light that goes on when the waffle maker is ready for batter, and it goes out when the waffle is done. Its lines divide the waffle into four small wedges.

My first batch was for a potluck brunch. Most people would get some experience with a new kitchen tool before using it in the real world. Not me! I’m like a kid with a new toy. I have to show it off to everybody! On that day, everybody was my Yiddish Club. We meet once a month to keep the language alive through reading, watching videos, and whatever else I can think of on the fly. I thought it would be fun to serve Belgian waffles covered with scoops of vanilla ice cream and strawberry topping. There was some leftover ice cream and topping, but the waffles disappeared. I’d call that a success.

The Good:
The first thing I discovered it that the waffle maker is fast. Before making the first batch of waffles, the waffle-maker needs to be conditioned. This sounds like a bigger deal than it is. All I had to do was brush cooking oil over the cooking surfaces and wipe it off with a paper towel. The first waffle absorbs any extra oil and should be tossed. Once I conditioned it and made the toss-out waffle, I was on my way. It only take about four or five minutes to cook each waffle. The batter I made yielded four circular waffles, not counting the one I tossed.

Each waffle takes about 2/3 cup of batter. It’s important to not overfill the waffle maker. I use a 1/3 cup measure to fill it. The manual suggests using a rubber spatula to spread the batter evenly. That was too messy for me. I used the outside of my 1/3 cup measure. Using the same tool twice kept the mess to a minimum – fewer batter-covered utensils make for a cleaner kitchen counter.

The Bad:
As I mentioned earlier, there is a light on top side of the black hinge that goes on and off while the waffle maker is in use. It first lights up after you plug the waffle maker in to let you know that it’s heating. After about five minutes, the light will go out to tell you that the waffle maker is ready to make waffles. Pour the batter in and close the lid, and the light will turn on again until the waffle is cooked.

The problem for me is that there is no beeping noise to go with the lights. This means I have to either time the waffles or sit there staring at the thing while it’s cooking waffles. For my brunch project, this isn’t that much of a problem. However, if you’re making waffles along with a full breakfast, keeping one eye on the waffle maker while cooking other dishes is more multitasking than my brain can handle before noon.

Second Hand Bad:
While searching for the photo and link for the waffle maker, I discovered that several people who bought my model and Model #WMB505 (the difference notes the color) complained about the hinge pin breaking and having difficulty getting a replacement pin. The complaints I saw were all at least a year or two old, so it’s possible that the problem with the hinge-pin was fixed since then. Even though the complaints may be outdated and I haven’t experienced this problem for myself, I would feel guilty if I left out this information. It’s also possible that these complaints came from customers who make large batches or make waffles more often than we do. My waffle maker is still quite new, and I typically make a batch of four to six full circular waffles – enough for four hearty appetites.

My Advice:
If you’re like me, make the waffles ahead of the other dishes, cover, and store them in the microwave as they cook. If you have an eagle-eyed kid, put him to work watching for the light to go out on the waffle maker. If you have someone in the family willing to devote his or her time to making the rest of breakfast while you’re waffling, even better!

The Black & Decker waffle maker is specified for household use only. It doesn’t claim to be a professional model. This is a good starter waffle maker, despite the complaints I read about. It’s easily affordable. I found it on sale for $17.99, and the highest price I saw was about $40. I wouldn’t want to spend more than that on my first waffle maker. If you’re an experienced at making waffles and cook for five or more mouths at a time, get a higher priced model – one that beeps when your waffle is done.

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