Valentine's Day Breakfast

I get a little silly about holidays sometimes. I like my food to fit with the theme. Maybe with Valentine's Day, it's something my mother got me into. She's made us heart-shaped french toast every Valentine's Day morning for as long as I can remember.

Because I have a heart-shaped waffle maker, I thought I would make some waffles instead of french toast, and I finalized my decision after seeing a picture of these waffles in a recent Williams-Sonoma catalog.

Cinnamon Waffles with Caramelized Apples (from the Williams-Sonoma Kitchen)

3 Tbs. unsalted butter, plus 8 Tbs. (1 stick) melted butter
6 Fuji apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/2 cup plus 1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. cornstarch
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
3/4 tsp. salt
2 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 eggs, separated
1 3/4 cups buttermilk
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
Whipped cream for serving

In a fry pan over medium-high heat, melt the 3 Tbs. butter. When the foaming subsides, add the apples, the 1/2 cup sugar, the cornstarch, 1/2 tsp. of the cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. of the nutmeg and 1/4 tsp. of the salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the apples are tender and the sugar mixture becomes syrupy, about 18 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in 2 tsp. of the vanilla. Cover the caramelized apples to keep warm until ready to serve.

Preheat a waffle maker on medium-high heat according to the manufacturer's instructions. Preheat an oven to 200°F.

In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, buttermilk, the 8 Tbs. melted butter and the remaining 1/2 tsp. vanilla. Over a sheet of waxed paper, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, the 1/3 cup sugar, and the remaining 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. nutmeg and 1/2 tsp. salt. Add the flour mixture to the yolk mixture and whisk until smooth.

In another bowl, using an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form, about 1 minute. Using a rubber spatula, fold 1 cup of the whites into the batter, then carefully fold in the remaining whites.

Pour about 1/3 cup batter into each well of the waffle maker and close the lid. Cook until the waffles are golden brown and crisp, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer the waffles to a wire rack set on a baking sheet and keep warm in the oven. Repeat to cook the remaining batter.

Serve the waffles hot with the caramelized apples and whipped cream. Makes twelve 4-inch square waffles.

I decorated with some festive nonpareils and hearts from Crate & Barrel, and I made some chantilly cream to go on the side -- a mixture of heavy cream, vanilla, and confectioner's sugar.

Note: We halved the apple mixture and had enough for the two of us plus leftovers.

To make your own heart-shaped doilies, check out these instructions from Martha Stewart.