I Tried Making Viking Cruises’ Beloved Mamsen’s Waffles and Now I Understand Why Scandinavian People Are So Happy
Anyone who’s ever taken a Viking Ocean Cruise will probably agree that they have a soft spot in their heart for the waffles served at Mamsen’s, the line’s onboard Norwegian-style deli. The made-to-order heart-shaped waffles are such a treat, many guests wake up early just to ensure that they get one before Mamsen’s closes for breakfast. “Why?” you may be asking. “What’s so special about a waffle?”
Well, these are made from a personal recipe used by Mamsen — the mother of Torstein Hagen, Viking’s founder and chairman — herself. Like all Norwegian waffles, these are traditionally heart-shaped, thinner, and less fluffy than Belgian waffles — an irony not lost on Viking Executive Chef Kurt Timmermans, who is from Belgium.
“When I first started here, the fact that we were serving waffles for breakfast was mind-blowing,” he laughs. “In Belgium, we never eat waffles for breakfast. We have them as an afternoon snack.”
He also had to get used to serving them with brown goat cheese, another Norwegian waffle tradition that grows on you with each bite.
On my most recent cruise to Norway, I asked Chef Kurt if he would show me how to make the waffles at home. He graciously agreed, and now I’m going to show you, too.
How to Make Mamsen’s Waffles
In a bowl, mix the flour, sugar, eggs, and milk until the batter is smooth. Using a small saucepan, melt 3 ounces of butter, then whisk it into the batter along with the pinch of cardamom and half teaspoon of vanilla extract. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place it in the fridge overnight. The next day, plug in your waffle maker, spray both the top and bottom with cooking spray, and pour in the batter. Cook until golden-brown and remove with a non-metal spatula. Top with blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and cone-shaped slices of Norwegian brown goat cheese.
My Honest Review of Mamsen’s Waffles
OMG! These were delicious and, taste-wise, pretty much identical to Mamsen’s. After watching Chef Kurt lovingly make these waffles in person, I was convinced there was no way I was going to be able to make them myself. He used a professional kitchen mixer, waffle maker, and Norwegian brown cheese that I had no idea where to buy. He did some fancy mixing, hand-sifting, and cheese shaping, and — in my head — I was already writing the ending of this piece: “Do yourself a favor and just book a Viking cruise.”
Although I still stand by that advice, I admit I was happily shocked to take a forkful of the waffle, berries, and cheese, and be immediately transported to Mamsen’s. I can’t believe I was actually able to recreate these at home. And, FYI, I mixed the batter by hand, poured in flour right from the bag, used inexpensive waffle makers, and bought the wrong brown cheese. And the waffles came out amazing.
3 Tips for Making Mamsen’s Waffles
- Let the batter set overnight. The recipe doesn’t mention that, but Chef Kurt says it’s an important step. I listened to him this time, but I know the day will come when I’m craving these waffles, won’t have patience, and will probably test the theory of not doing so.
- Don’t stress over the waffle maker. Although Viking uses a big, beautiful, authentic heart-shaped Norwegian waffle maker, the batter will work with whatever you have. Because I do love the heart shape for these, I used both of my Dash heart-shaped waffle makers — the Dash Express and the Dash Mini — to see which one would best capture the essence of Mamsen’s. It takes five minis to recreate the overall look of the Mamsen’s waffle but, because you have to cook each one individually, you might not want to wait to take a bite. The taste of this batter is authentic, though, no matter what shape or size waffle you prefer.
- You can buy the Norwegian brown cheese at Whole Foods. I used Ski Queen Classic Creamy Caramel Cheese, which is the closest I could find. It’s not what Viking uses, but it was perfect with the waffles.