If this is your first time hearing about the “Puffle” craze, you are in for a treat! Instagram streams from across the globe recently filled with this eye-catching sweet, and the moment we realized the shop is a short drive from LA, we had to try it out.  Is it as magically delicious as it looks?  See, and hear, for yourself…then hop in your car (or on your broom) and cool down with made to order ice creams and Puffle cones at Santa Ana’s Cauldron Ice Cream.

smorespufflephoto: Erin Harris

The Hype, The Craze, The Close, The Re-Open
With all the enticing pictures popping up just as temps were peaking, we had to try it out ASAP, and were greeted with a waiting crowd of hundreds of people and a nearly two-hour wait for an ice cream cone. Fortunately for everyone else, Cauldron took this pure insanity as a sign that they needed to overhaul their system in order to meet the raging demand and reduce wait times. The ice cream shop was closed to customers for one week and celebrated its grand re-opening on August 31, so now you won’t need to grumble about how long it takes to get your Puffle.  So rejoice and get in a nice short line to enjoy this made-fresh treat.

cauldron_puffle_fbphoto: Cauldron Ice Cream via facebook

Think Of It As Edible Bubble Wrap
“What they heck is a Puffle,” you ask? Based on a popular Hong Kong treat, it is an egg waffle that resembles large format bubble wrap, almost the reverse of a typical waffle. It looks like something out of a children’s storybook, or perhaps Willy Wonka’s factory, and it wraps beautifully around a couple of scoops of ice cream, essentially creating a two-in-one dessert. The cones are made to order and served warm (melting alert!), so be sure to grab plenty of napkins.

The ice cream is also following the latest ice cream trend (see local shops Creamology, Creamistry, Ice Cream Lab, etc.) of making and freezing your order before your eyes, using a creamy base, fresh add-ins and a blast of liquid nitrogen.  Freezer burn, farewell.  Plus, the smoke effect coming off the machines is super cool.

smokeeffectphoto: Erin Harris

To Puffle Or Not To Puffle?
Next question: “Soooo…is it worth the hype?” (And the drive…) The answer on the part of your kids will likely be an unqualified and resounding “YES!” After all, there’s something irresistible about desserts that are nearly as big as your face and look like something you’d only find at a state fair. Grown-ups, on the other hand, may find the combination of a thick Belgian waffle wrapped around a couple of scoops of intensely rich ice cream to be a little, um, much. Unless you are some kind of a waffle fiend, big people are better off ordering the ice cream on its own.

puffle_yelpphoto: Maria Cariza V. via yelp

Don’t Worry: There’s Stuff For Grown-Ups Too
The liquid nitrogen process produces ice cream that is exceptionally dense, smooth and rich in flavor, so it makes for quite the indulgence even without the waffle-cone-on-steroids that is responsible for the shop’s sudden success.

And, in keeping with modern gourmet ice cream trends, some of the flavors (which rotate monthly) have definitely been developed with discerning palates in mind, including Earl Gray Lavender, Sea Salt Caramel (above) and Vietnamese Coffee. At the other end of the spectrum are kid-pleasing options like Rainbow Road (made with Fruity Pebbles) and Cirque de la Crème (made with Circus Animal Cookies, below). Whether you go full Puffle or not, your sweet tooth is sure to be satisfied.

puffle_yelp2photo: Olivia H. via yelp

Harry Potter Fans, Wave Your Wands
FOr young witches and wizards waiting with baited breath for Harry Potter World to open in 2016 at Universal Studios (if only there was a spell to make time fly!), consider passing on the Puffle and getting this magical sipper. The Wizard’s Brew Float is butterscotch soda with fresh vanilla ice cream, and if it puts you in mind of Butterbeer from Hogsmeade, well, we won’t tell the kids this concoction isn’t exactly what Harry and friends drink.

cauldron_brew_fbphoto: Cauldron Ice Cream via facebook

Cauldron Ice Cream
1421 W MacArthur Blvd.
Santa Ana
Online: cauldronicecream.com

Have you puffled?  What’s your verdict: worth the drive or it’s all hype?

—Erin Harris