It's been three years since Sean McConnell's yabby jaffle was named as one of the 17 Australian dishes you must try before you die.
It was on the menu at Monster Kitchen and Bar, a humble toasty, but the mixture of yabbies, horseradish, creme fraiche, chives, lemon juice, gruyere and buttered bread make it a hot, crisp winner.
While the jaffle has found its way onto menus around the country, for most of us the jaffle is flavoured by nostalgia. Memories of burning the roof of our mouths because we didn't have the patience to wait, opening cans of spaghetti or baked beans, Sunday nights where mum would crack an egg in the bread and that was dinner.
According to the website Australian food history timeline, the jaffle iron was invented in 1949 by a Bondi doctor, Dr Earnest Smithers, it was marketed as a pressure toaster and was a popular kitchen appliance.
In 1974 Breville invented the "snack 'n' sandwich maker" and in its first year was snapped up by 10 per cent of Australian households.
More than six million Breville jaffle makers are owned worldwide. (And here's a discussion topic - is it brevilles or jaffles?)
At Intra Cafe in Campbell, Sean Baker admits they tried the Breville in their kitchen but found it was too hard to keep clean. Now they have three $15 Kmart Deep Dish Sandwich Makers on high rotation, the jaffles on their menu are among the most popular items.
"Intra was based on the idea of simple but interesting," says Baker. (They got that right with a minimalist decor and a short but flavourful menu).
"Our jaffles are the product of this concept. Simple pressed toasty with interesting ingredients inside. It brings back a lot of nostalgia from our younger days and the older folks that come through the cafe love them."
There's a kimchi jaffle that was around before Intra opened just more than a year ago, part of their pop-ups during construction.
"There's a spicy Korean cabbage that is oh so good, and it also includes sweet pickled baby cucumber, pickled ginger and Swiss cheese.
"It's four seasons in your mouth and a unique approach to jaffle making."
There's been a pizza jaffle on the menu too, so good you get a little confused that you're not actually eating a piece of pizza, but it's about to be replaced by a pulled pork, braised mushrooms, provolone and Swiss cheese filling.
"That's half the fun of a jaffle, sometimes we look at what we have in the kitchen and wonder how it would work," Baker says.
They use plain old Tip Top toast bread, Wonder White was too soft, sourdough just a little fancy - "It's not about the bread, it's about the filling, the bread is just a container and it shouldn't affect the flavour."
At Temporada there are two jaffles on the menu. Chef Dave Young remembers eating tinned spaghetti jaffles as a kid but has refined the ones on his menu.
"For breakfast we make a bolognese jaffle with fetta and pickled chillies, which is seriously good," he says. "We do lots of takeaway brekky sales and we thought it would be a nice change from a bacon and egg roll."
At dinner, things get a little fancier.
"The four cheese jaffle is a little bit more deluxe, gruyere, taleggio, parmesan and mozzarella make up the cheese mix and then we slice a hefty amount of black truffle from Terra Pretta and give it the jaffle treatment.
"Truffles seem like such a grown-up treat, we thought we would give it a fun childhood twist."
Are there any jaffle rules our chefs follow? Butter the outside of the bread, don't overfill, be patient and wait for the green light to tell you the appliance has warmed up. And cheese.
"The more the better, obviously," says Young "And it doesn't have to be expensive either - sliced cheese is perfect."
Young says they use a milk loaf from Three Mills Bakery in the restaurant, at home he's partial to Wonder White.
One ingredient he'll never use is sliced tomato.
"Might be a controversial take I know, but I know what side of the fence I'm on here! It's great in theory, but it's like somehow you manage to heat the tomato to the temperature of the earth's molten core. How does the tomato get so hot?! Better to leave it out."
At Morning Glory in New Acton the kitchen pays homage to Vegemite on toast with its kaya and cheese jaffle.
"Every hawker stand and household in South East Asia would have kaya and bread on offer or in their pantry," says co-owner Greg Lally.
"The Morning Glory kaya jaffle combines wyngaard cheese, for a salty element, kaya jam, for some sweet, and Tip Top Bakery white bread, by name and by nature," he says.
Morning Glory also offers a bo kho jaffle.
"The idea behind this jaffle was quite simple," Lally says.
"In cold periods, especially those we endure in Canberra, we often prescribe a hearty beef stew to heal any cold weather ailments.
"What MG has concocted is a cheesy bo kho, a Vietnamese beef stew jaffle, made with wagyu beef cheek and combining the flavours of five-spice, lemongrass, garlic and tomato stew."
Lally says his favourite filling as a kid was tuna and cheese.
"But a staple in my household was always baked beans," he says.
"Other popular combinations include spaghetti, cheese and tomato, cheese and Vegemite, ham and cheese.
"While there are no rules on how much filling should be included in a jaffle, we think no more than three to ensure the perfect balance between ingredients."
What other jaffles are on menus around Canberra? Plenty of places are offering toasties but we were after actual jaffles, signed, sealed (that's the important part) and delivered.
We know Eightysix has an oxtail ragu and cheddar jaffle on the breakfast menu that is to die for.
There was a jaffle dégustation on the menu at 54 Benjamin in Belconnen and die-hard fans will be please to know it's on its way back. Manager Thomas Reaby is working with the kitchen to nail down the menu and concepts so we'll keep you informed.
Up on Red Hill we hear Coffee n Beans offers a great range: a brekkie jaffle with bacon, egg, cheese and tomato chutney; a smoked salmon with dill and ricotta; wild mushroom and cheese; and the staple ham, cheese and tomato.
No matter what you're favourite flavour combination is perhaps it's time to revisit the jaffle and think outside the square (thing that cuts it into triangles).
Spicy lamb mince jaffle with soft labne spread
This is easy to make, delicious and the pine nuts are a great addition.
8 slices white sandwich loaf
500g Greek-style yoghurt
1 tsp salt flakes
1 brown onion, finely diced
1 bird's eye chilli, seeded and chopped
2 garlic cloves, grated
50ml light olive oil
500g minced lamb
1 tbsp tomato paste
500ml chicken stock
50g pine nuts, toasted
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp allspice
3 tbsp chopped fresh coriander leaves
1 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
80g unsalted butter, softened
1. Make the labne a day ahead. Mix the yoghurt with the salt and pour it into a sieve lined with muslin set over a plastic container. Leave to hang overnight to extract all of the whey. Transfer the thick labne to a plastic container and store in the refrigerator until needed. Discard the whey.
2. In a large cast-iron or heavy-based saucepan, gently fry the onion, chilli and garlic in the oil for a few minutes over medium heat until translucent. Raise the heat to medium-high and add the lamb. Brown it off and mix with a wooden spoon until all the juices have evaporated. Just as the meat starts to catch on the bottom of the saucepan, add the tomato paste and fry for another minute or so. Add the chicken stock to deglaze the pan and stir. Reduce the heat to low and simmer gently for about 10 minutes or until all the liquid has evaporated. Remove from the heat and leave to cool. Add the pine nuts, spices and herbs and mix well.
3. Preheat a jaffle maker. Butter one side of each of the slices of bread. Assemble your four sandwiches directly in the jaffle maker (two at a time if that is the size of your machine). Place the bread slices, butter side down, in the jaffle maker and add three to four heaped tablespoons of spicy lamb. Spread to just inside the edges of the bread. Top with the remaining slices of bread, buttered side up. Close the jaffle maker and cook until the sandwiches are golden brown and sealed. Serve with the labne as a spread.
Recipe from Chefs Eat Toasties Too, by Darren Purchese, Hardie Grant Books, $29.99.