Mallory Neiss’ first brush with a stroopwafel, the Dutch waffle with a sugary center, was in Amsterdam.
“We were there on vacation and had picked up some packaged ones and we thought they were so good,” Neiss said. “It was such a unique texture and it had this spiced caramel inside. It was just so amazing, I just loved it. I couldn’t stop thinking about it.”
There was one left in the box toward the end of the trip. Neiss couldn’t help but eat it, but that drew the wrath of a traveling partner. Neiss said she felt so guilty, she bought the friend another box before the end of the trip.
Now, though, Neiss said that very same friend is weary of eating yet another stroopwafel. Neiss decided to sell the waffles after searching for, and not finding, a local provider. She cycled through myriad recipes — and foisted them on friends to sample — before settling on the version she’s now selling through her small wholesale bakery, Hopboom Baking Company.
Diners can snap up her Dutch stroopwafels all over town at coffee shops and tea houses, such as Mad Hat Tea and Blue Steele, the Lakewood coffee shop Neiss manages.
Neiss’ background is in baking. She graduated in 2009 from the pastry arts program at Seattle Central Community College.
Her bakery, Hopboom, is intentionally small. She operates out of a commercial kitchen at the Old Post Office building in downtown Tacoma, in the same space where Layla Isaac makes her ice cream for her business, Ice Cream Social. Neiss is producing just the stroopwafels so far, and she said she won’t produce anything else until she’s perfected them.
Neiss has constructed hers to rest on top of a hot beverage so that the steam softens the center of the stroopwafel. That makes them an exceptionally good pairing with coffee houses and tea shops.
“I tried a yeasted stroopwafel, which is probably how they make them in Gouda in Holland (said to be the birthplace of the stroopwafel). It seems when I made it with yeast, it didn’t stay flat. It ended up getting poofy and round and weird. I didn’t like it.”
After research, she settled on a leavening agent that would give just a touch of lift to lighten the texture, but wouldn’t cause the waffle to inflate: Baking soda. “That kept them flat, but still where they need to be delicate.”
She also wanted to skip ingredients used in mass manufacturing, which is why she swapped out the corn syrup used by some of the larger stroopwafel bakeries and substituted glucose syrup. “It keeps the center really caramelly and still stiff,” she said.
Her stroopwafel starts with crunchy edges, but toward the center, the texture shifts to a chewy, sugary center that mimics the filling of a cinnamon roll.
Her future baking projects won’t all be on the sweeter side. She has plans to eventually bake artisanal breads.
The name of her Hopboom bakery is a nod to the Sumner and Puyallup valley, where she grew up, and the area’s rich history in hops. She named the bakery with the intention of making bread using spent grains from the brewing process. Said Neiss, “I’ve had a lot of people asking me for breads. I want to figure out some way to do that for sure, especially the spent grain bread and I also will make a traditional bread. And Bavarian pretzels, that’s probably one of the most popular things that people keep asking me for.”