Third Time’s the Bubble Waffle Charm

The first time I saw a bubble waffle was in a Hong Kong-style café. My brother and I were eating together, gorging on delicious Chinese food and sipping addictive iced lemon tea. I noticed other patrons ordering a special dessert which looked kinda like a breakfast item. They were getting odd puffy-shaped waffles. Could those really be that different than the regular ol’ type?

The second time around, I ate a bubble waffle. I think it was at a night market in Taiwan. When the delicious pastry smell wafted in the air, I had to give it a try.

I encountered the bubble waffle a third time at a local cultural festival, and I was hooked. The only constraint on DIYing it? You needed a special mold to make the waffles at home.

What’s so Great About Bubble Waffles?

They’re like a regular waffle, right? Wrong. They’re puffier, hence the bubbles. And I experience a certain child-like wonder every time I pinch off a bubble and plop it into my mouth. The other interesting thing about bubble waffles is its texture. There’s a slight chewiness and spring to each interconnected dough sphere.

Pandan bubble waffle on plate with sliced bananas
Pandan bubble waffle

Making Waffles at Home

Recently, I splurged and bought myself a bubble waffle maker. It took two tries to actually get the item. I thought I had found it one day at a local Asian grocery store, only to realize it was a takoyaki (or octopus balls) maker—a very different sort of snack.

To get the right mold, I decided to order one online. I’ve had waffle makers in the past, and to be honest, I hate cleaning the devices. The batter always gets stuck in the crevices, and the cord gets in the way when trying to wash the unit. I also have this strange fear of sticking (even unplugged) cords in water. This new bubble waffle maker was cordless; really, it’s more of a griddle with bubble shapes that you can place on top of a gas range.  

I used the recipe pamphlet that came with the maker. The classic bubble waffle required the following ingredients: eggs, milk, vanilla extract, butter, sugar, flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and oil.

The batter was easy and quick to make. Timing the cooking took some effort, though. Instead of the usual light indicator to tell me when it was done, I had to watch the clock. It took about two to three minutes on each side to get a golden brown result.  

Although bubble waffles look like they’d stick together really well, it takes skill to make that happen. Getting the waffle off the griddle requires finesse. For some reason, at that high temperature, the bubbles easily break apart. The best way I figured out how to get the waffle off without damage is to rely on gravity. While holding the device above a plate, I can use chopsticks (or tongs) to peel the top corner of the waffle and let the rest flop down.

Bubble waffle maker with cooked waffle on top of gas stove

Other Tips

  • Waffles need time to cool. Either use a fan to blow on it, or have patience and let it sit.
  • Some recipes call for custard powder, which is a special ingredient. Instant vanilla pudding can be substituted if you can’t find any at the store.
  • A fun tip: Bubble waffles can be used as cones for ice cream!

SoCal Eateries to Find Bubble Waffles

  • Bubble Puff & Tea (Pasadena, CA)
  • Happy Lemon (Gardena, CA)
  • French Touch (Galleria Mall; Redondo Beach, CA)

Boba places may offer bubble waffles. Find their website online to check if that’s the case!

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