There was a time in the 1980s when the suburbs had just as many acres of strawberry fields as tract homes. I would haul ass on my John Lucero skateboard through the suburbs of Long Beach, down by the sun-soaked strawberry fields to steal a handful and race away before security could shoot salt pellets at me from their shotguns.
I still love strawberries. From January to May, when they are in season, I want them on everything and especially love them on waffles. I crave slightly crunchy waffles loaded with fruit and globs of syrup.
Yet I have had a constant problem since I was young: just like pancakes, I never finish my stack of waffles. I eat every berry and neglect the bed upon which they lie, the half-loved waffle stack.
“You can’t be like pancakes, all exciting at first, but then by the end, you’re fuckin’ sick of ’em.” —Mitch Hedberg
Could the answer to this conundrum lie in... the croffle?
I was pumped when I heard Creamistry ice cream shop had attempted to solve my problem of waffle neglect with its own version of the Irish pastry chef Louise Lennox’s concept, the croffle. It’s a simple mix of the croissant and the waffle, beloved in Korea and Hong Kong and on the east coast of North America. There are places such as Café Auberdale, Croffle Haus, and Croffle House in Flushing, and Coffee Monster in Whitestone, Queens.
Simply put, it’s croissant dough rolled in sugar and cooked on a waffle iron. (The sugar helps elevate the crunchy exterior.) Then you put fun stuff on top like strawberries, syrup, and butter.
Sure, it seemed gimmicky at first. I had tried Dominique Ansel Bakery’s famous Cronut in New York, and it was good, but it’s not what I want from a doughnut. It was different, but not better. I don’t need a bagel to taste like a burrito, and I don’t need a burrito to taste like a donut. Experimentation is fun, but does it improve upon the original? Will I want a croffle more than once?
I am used to the customer service experience of joy and warmth from places like Salt & Straw ice cream shop, where it seems like the whole workforce is proud of the product when you walk in. When I entered my nearest Creamistry, it felt somehow off. If the store had eyes, it felt dead in the eyes.
My mom was with me and felt the same way. Maybe the employees were tired at noon? Perhaps the thrill of serving the croffle was gone? I ordered one with strawberries, cream, and chunks of cheesecake. It sits on a popsicle stick. If you start from the top and take a bite, you will pull the whole thing off the stick. Eat it from the side.
To my surprise, the waffle was insanely chewy. Not a crunch or flake in sight. I wonder if the employees forgot to roll it in sugar? The crème on top was high quality but overwhelming. The strawberries were merely fine. The cheesecake bites were forgettable. Crustless and crunchless, in this economy? The croffle… was awful.
In the store, I asked patron Deanna Van De Brake if this new culinary fad had caught fire for her.
“The textures are multi-dimensional,” said Deanna. “The whipped cream tastes homemade. It tastes like it goes good together at first. I don’t know. It’s a fun and unique experience... You don’t normally eat a sideways cake on a popsicle. I like the fluffiness of the waffle. I don’t think I’d ever order it again, though. It’s pretty rich. It’s actually disappointing because it’s beautiful, but when you bite into it… it doesn’t blow you away.”
Her daughter, Elizabeth Van De Brake, 14, had a different take.
“It’s very fluffy,” she said. “I love the butteriness of the croissant, and the cookie-ness has a nice crunch. I love how delectable it is. It’s so good. I’d definitely order it again. I give it a 9.”
Maybe Creamistry is simply geared toward a kid’s palate. I know there are better croffles awaiting my pie hole. The reviews for the tastiest croffles in LA instruct me to get the goods at Mumu Bakery, Bobarita, and Crofflesaurus.
I haven’t given up on the perfect croffle hunt. Maybe I’ll try to make them at home using Mimi Ju’s simple recipe.
- Dough: Croffles can be made with a tube of store-bought croissant dough like Pillsbury. For a higher quality product, Mimi Ju’s Kitchen recommends that you purchase unbaked croissant dough from a local bakery. Store-bought puff pastry also works, or for a much, much less easy time of it, you can make your own laminated dough from scratch.
- Sugar: Rolling the croissant dough in sugar before cooking in the waffle iron will help achieve a crispy golden exterior on the final product. Either white sugar or brown sugar works well.
- Waffle maker: There’s probably no getting around this one. You’ll need a waffle maker.
Per Mimi Ju, simply take the dough and roll it up into a croissant configuration. Roll the rolled dough in sugar, making sure it’s evenly coated. Preheat the waffle maker and press the croissant into it until it’s golden and cooked through. Proceed with the toppings of your choice.