I first heard of a stroopwafel in my early twenties when a colleague of mine went to The Netherlands for a work trip, and as a treat to bring back for the office, she presented us with bags and bags of these little flat waffle-like sandwich cookies with caramel filling. “Stroopwafels are the best!” she said. “You haven’t lived until you have eaten one of these!” I had one of them, and while I enjoyed it and how soft it was, I wasn’t particularly impressed. They were tasty, yes, caramelly, a bit gooey, soft and with a hint of crunch. But I didn’t find this life changing at all, nor did I think it was anything I would want to haul back to the U.S. with me after visiting Europe.
That was about 9-10 years ago. Now that the world is becoming more cosmopolitan and well, worldly, stroopwafels have already landed right here stateside. Gourmet and on-trend food vendors sourcing stroopwafel-like cookies are eagerly distributing to many American stores, so now, we can easily find these same stroopwafels in our local Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods Markets — heck, some airport stand are even selling these individually packaged.
Fast forward to today, when I finally got to have a freshly made stroopwafel, and yes, this time, my life kind of was changed. Let’s just say right now that a freshly made stroopwafel CANNOT be compared to any old packaged stroopwafel We were at the Albert Cuyp Market in Amsterdam during our last morning before taking a train to Brussels, and we went to the cart that was marked as the original stroopwafel – Rudi’s Original Stroopwafels.
Stroopwafels (this literally means “syrup waffle” in Dutch) originated in Gouda (“HOW-da” the town, yes, of the same name as the famous and delectable cheese) around the late 18th century. They are made with a thick dough flatted in a waffle-like iron, cooked until crispy, then deftly sliced in half. A half is spread with a warm caramel-like filling made from syrup, brown sugar, butter, and a mixture of spices. Then, the caramel begins to cool and set, ultimately binding these two delicious halves together again. According to legend, bakers in Gouda didn’t know what to do with leftover cookie crumbs from their baking, so they would mix together leftover cookie crumbs to form a dough and then shape this mixture into waffles. To sweeten these treats, bakers glued the waffles together with sugar syrup, forming a sweet snack out of ingredients that would have otherwise been thrown away. Eventually, other bakers in the Netherlands jumped on the bandwagon, turning stroopwafels into a national staple.
This freshly made stroopwafel, literally right in front of my eyes, was amazing. Our vendor nearly burned his fingers slicing the thin waffle in half, and in goes the oozing gooey deliciousness that is the golden caramel filling. Served piping hot, the edges are slightly crisp and the wafers are super chewy. And the caramel filling is a true delight: it oozes and sticks and stretches like crazy. It was so much fun to eat and film. And to add to the overall experience, our vendor who sold it to us was so friendly and even agreed to be filmed for our vlog. He discussed his family recipe and business, which his dad started, and he talked about how he continues the family tradition. Others try to copy, but theirs is the original and the best. We were lucky to come during the current month when it’s not as busy because during the summer months, which of course, is high season in Amsterdam, the queues can become quite long.
I don’t have any other fresh stroopwafels to compare this one to, but this was certainly the best stroopwafel I’ve ever had. I’m ruined for the packaged ones forever… not that I ever really cared for them to begin with, especially back home.