When Chantal’s new book came out recently, we decided to start selling some of the harder-to-obtain ingredients we use for chocolates as well as large Valrhona buttons in small quantities. You can find them in our Kitchen department online.
One of these ingredients is popping candy, and we often get asked about what it really is and how you can use it.
Popping candy (also called space dust or pop rocks) was popular in the early 1980s until rumours spread around the world that eating space dust and drinking cola was causing kids to explode (not true by the way, we’ve tried).
The small pieces of hard candy are made primarily of boiled sugar syrup that contains tiny bubbles of pressurised carbon dioxide. When you eat them the saliva in your mouth melts the sweets and releases the carbon dioxide, creating a fizzing sensation and that crackling sound.
Because the sweets are very small they melt very quickly in contact with liquid and lose their fizz, which is why we suggest using them for decoration (as we do on our popping champagne truffles) or encased in chocolate. If you tried mixing them into, say, custard, the pop would be all gone before you ate them.
Popping candy makes a great decoration to sprinkle on top of cakes or desserts, but remember that it’s best to sprinkle just before serving.
We’ve suggested a recipe before for milk chocolate slabs with passion fruit and popping candy, and they’d make great chocolate lollipops (just mix them into tempered chocolate then spoon rounds onto cellophane and press in a stick). You could also try Heston Blumenthal’s cake, which has the space dust protected by chocolate inside the crunchy base of a mousse cake (actually a chocolate ganache lightened by whipping most of the cream).
Experiment and have fun, and if you know of any other good recipes for popping candy let us know below!