Why It Works
- Egg whites are a common leftover from ice cream making, and help keep the waffles crisp and light.
- A blend of three different sugars (brown, white, and honey) keeps the waffles pliable while warm, but wonderfully crisp once cool, with a nuanced flavor.
- Bread flour encourages gluten development, for strong and sturdy ice cream cones.
- A brief rest after mixing helps the batter thicken.
- The heavy plates of a waffle cone maker spread the batter our wafer thin, while driving out moisture and browning the batter on both sides, creating a unique color and texture.
For the ice cream obsessed, an electric waffle cone maker is an essential piece of gear for making genuine waffle cones, rather than tuille-like cookies shaped into a cone. The temperature of its plates can be precisely controlled, and are heavy enough to press the batter into a delicately thin wafer. This drives off moisture, resulting in a warm and pliable wafer that's well caramelized but easy to shape, and able to fully crisp once cool.
These cones have a flavor profile like that of a high-end sugar cone, deeply caramelized and rich, with added complexity from a blend of honey and brown sugar, along with a splash of roasted hazelnut oil. These cones are nutty, sweet, and nuanced—but classic enough for children and adults to enjoy alike.
Please note that this recipe is not designed to work with other cooking methods (such as baking or griddling).
- 3 ounces egg whites (about 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon; 85g)
- 1 3/4 ounces white sugar (about 1/4 cup; 50g)
- 1 1/4 ounces brown sugar (about 3 tablespoons; 35g)
- 1 ounce honey (2 shy tablespoons; 28g)
- 1 ounce roasted hazelnut oil, see note (about 2 heaping tablespoons; 28g)
- 1/4 ounce water (about 1 1/2 teaspoons; 7g)
- 1/4 ounce rum, vanilla, or additional water (about 1 1/2 teaspoons; 7g)
- 1/4 teaspoon (1g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt; for table salt, use about half as much by volume or the same weight
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 3 ounces bread flour, sifted (about 2/3 cup, spooned; 85g)
- Neutral cooking spray, such as Pam Original, for greasing the iron
At least 30 minutes in advance, plug in the waffle maker and preheat to 300°F (150°C); on machines that lack specific settings, start with the "medium" setting and adjust as needed along the way. If a machine does not allow for temperature control, the ideal time for a given amount of batter will need to be determined individually.
In a medium bowl, combine the egg whites, sugar, brown sugar, honey, hazelnut oil, water, rum or vanilla, salt, and baking soda. With a balloon whisk, mix vigorously for a full minute to ensure the baking soda is perfectly homogenized into the batter. Undermixing at this stage can produce waffle cones with a very uneven color and texture.
Sift in the bread flour, and whisk until very well combined. With a flexible spatula, scrape and fold the batter several times to ensure perfect uniformity, paying particular care to the batter splashed up the sides. Rushing this step can produce waffle cones with an uneven texture. Let the batter stand 10 minutes before proceeding to the next step; if not briefly rested, the dough may be too thin, lacy, and brittle.
Spritz the plates of the waffle iron with a neutral pan spray, then add approximately 1 1/4 ounces (2 tablespoons) batter onto the center. Close the iron firmly and cook until the wafer is uniformly golden brown, about 85 seconds. The exact cooking time and temperature will vary drastically from machine to machine; the idea is to find a setting and time that will cook the wafer at a gentle pace, helping drive out moisture without browning too fast. When cooked too fast, the wafer will be brittle and difficult to shape. When cooked too slow, the wafer will be pale, and may not crisp fully once cool.
Troubleshooting: If the wafer seems splotchy or pale, the most common cause in an undermixed batter. Following that, uneven color can be caused by uneven heating in a poor quality machine, or by insufficient preheating. Stir the batter thoroughly, and give the machine additional time to heat. If the following wafer remains pale, increase the heat setting on the machine. Conversely, if the wafer seems burned or excessively dark, reduce the heat before making the next waffle (or else briefly unplug a machine with no dial), or try cooking the next wafer for less time.
To Shape a Waffle Cone: Place a hot wafer on a relatively non-conductive work surface, such as a clean kitchen towel or a cutting board. Set the waffle cone form on top, so that its tip is about 1/4 inch from the edge of the wafer, around the 10 o'clock mark. Fold the upper portion of the wafer over the form, and press firmly at the tip to create a seal. Roll the form over, working bit by bit to keep the wafer tight against the form, until you reach the outer edge. Hold the waffle cone firmly in place, seam side down, until cool enough to maintain its own shape, 30 to 45 seconds. Shaping the waffle cone is a skill, and will require a certain degree of practice to master.
To Shape a Waffle Bowl: Place a small bowl or ramekin, preferably one with smooth, rounded edges, upside down on a work surface, and have a second, identical bowl or ramekin at the ready. Immediately after griddling, place a hot wafer over the inverted ramekin, then place the second ramekin on top and gently press to nestle the two together. If desired, the excess wafer can be shaped by hand, to create a "frill" around the edges. When the wafer is cool enough to hold its own shape, remove from the ramekins (if left too long, it may stick to either ramekin).
As soon as the waffle cones or bowls have cooled to room temperature, immediately transfer to an airtight container. The waffle cones and bowls are extremely susceptible to the effects of humidity, and can begin softening in as little as 15 minutes if left in the open. Likewise, if stored in a container while warm, the waffle cones and bowls may steam themselves and soften. But if properly cooked and well protected from air, the cones and bowls will keep for a week or more at cool room temperature. Small sandwich-sized zip-top bags are ideal for protecting and storing the individual cones or bowls.
Electric waffle cone maker and form, 2-tablespoon cookie scoop (optional), 2 small ramekins (optional)
- Roasted hazelnut oil can be substituted with roasted walnut, pecan, pistachio, or sesame oils. You can also use a neutral cooking oil without impacting the integrity of the batter, but the cone's flavor will be less nutty and complex.
- As with any new piece of gear, waffle cone makers can require some practice to find the perfect heat settings and time, so give yourself room to learn and make a test round or two before any special occasions. A neutral inexpensive cooking oil can be used in place of hazelnut oil for test rounds. Scrap pieces and rejects will still be tasty; try grinding them up into crumbs to use like graham crackers in your favorite cookie crumb crusts. Or, dip the broken wafers in the chocolate coating of a homemade Klondike bar, then freeze until the coating sets and stir the chocolate coated waffle pieces into your next batch of ice cream.
Make-Ahead and Storage
Properly cooled and stored in a truly airtight container, the waffle cones or bowls will keep for about a week at cool room temperature.