Sometimes a food phenomenon comes ripping across the world, unbidden and unexpected, burning across social media like a wildfire, sweeping up innocents like a tidal wave. What is this force of nature?
I speak, of course, of the chaffle. It is a waffle made entirely of cheese and eggs. You sprinkle shredded cheese directly on a hot waffle iron, add some beaten egg, top with cheese, and let the waffle maker do its thing.
Virtually unknown a mere week ago, the chaffle has set Youtube, Facebook, Reddit, Instagram and Pinterest ablaze. Every significant Google result for the term has been posted in the first two weeks of August. Searches have skyrocketed:
Chaffle mania has blossomed so quickly that it was difficult to track down the originator of the term. But I found her with help from the moderator of the (brilliantly named) Facebook group Keto Chafflehouse (yes, you read that right, chaffles have their own Facebook group). The singular genius of the chaffle appears to be a Youtuber named Cat “Keto” Doss. Behold the original chaffle video in all its glory. Ms. Doss is justifiably exultant about her creation: “Hey ya’ll, I’m about to rock your world.”
To what may we attribute the awesome ascendance of the chaffle? While there were already dozens (or hundreds?) of keto waffle recipes littering the internet, the runaway success of the chaffle seems to hinge on a few important factors.
First is its profound simplicity. Just two ingredients! The vast majority of those other low-carb waffles require expensive alternative starches such as almond and coconut flours, and frequently they utilize specialist baking ingredients like xanthan gum and psyllium husk. While one cannot fault these chefs for trying to make the most exquisite low-carb waffles, the complexity of such recipes means that they’re only likely to be used during the occasional special weekend morning. The chaffle, made only with one bowl and with just two pantry staples, is simple enough to crank out in a jiffy and on a whim.
Secondly, the chaffle community is heroically creative in using the chaffle as a bread replacement. A quick search of #chaffle will show that some of the most popular images use the chaffle as a base for mini pizzas, hot dog buns, sandwich bread, and so on. This emphasis has been baked in from the beginning – in the original video, Ms. Doss called it a bread substitute and insisted that “the possibilities are endless.” The first recipe to catch my eye, from the ketorecipes subreddit, was for a chaffled double smash burger, and I’m getting hungry just looking at this beautiful monstrosity:
Finally, one cannot look past the ingenious name, which no doubt has contributed to the giddiness and abandon with which chaffleheads have taken to their new obsession. The chaffle was born meme-ready.
The chaffle is young enough that no definitive recipe has yet emerged. As you read this, debates rage across social media on the niceties of the recipe: Should the cheese be mixed in with the egg? Does cream cheese work better than cheddar? Does a touch of almond flour improve the texture?
Your chaffle mileage may vary, but one point of apparent consensus is on the instrument of choice: the Dash Mini Waffle Maker, only $9.99 at Amazon, which was recommended in Cat Doss’ original video. Chaffle fever is so profound that some have actually uploaded videos of UPS delivering their Dash Mini Waffle Makers.
The low-carb world, of course, is no stranger to such phenomena. Epochal recipes such as the original Fathead Pizza, which exploded in interest in early 2017, have become revered staples in the ketogenic canon. The zoodle has shown an unbroken rise in popularity since 2014, and is now widely available in mainstream grocery stores. Cauliflower rice – which has annual spikes of interest due apparently to New Year’s resolutions – had its first big moment in January 2017.
Are we witnessing the birth of another new legendary recipe? Your correspondent has ordered his own Dash, and intends to find out.