Gift chocolates

From Mara Chibnik in e-mail writes with an account of chocolates she’s been given for the holidays, including one chocolate bar that puzzled her:

Firecracker (chipotle, salt and popping candy)

What’s popping candy, she wondered.

The chocolate bar:

Popping candy is a compound noun, with primary accent on its first element. But it’s not candy for popping (like roasting chicken); instead, it’s candy that pops (in your mouth). One consumer’s account of the Chuao Firecracker experience:

Last year, I sung the praises of a small chocolatier, Chuao, for its unique and delicious flavor combinations, like strawberry balsamic and spicy Cabernet caramel. I had a chance to try their newest bar, the Firecracker, and it was no exception.The chocolate smelled typical enough — bittersweet and slightly smoky. But once I took a bite, my experience took a turn for the bizarre. First, I tasted creamy dark chocolate then gradually intensifying heat and a tingly, burning sensation in the back of my throat. And all of a sudden, out of nowhere, loud crackling and popping, at which point I realized there was not only an explosion of flavor, but also a physical explosion of some kind. To find out what the cracker of the Firecracker was, read more.

Turns out the appropriately-named chocolate bar is made of dark chocolate, enrobed in chipotle chiles [chipotles are smoke-dried jalapeños], salt, and popping candy — the kind I loved in the third grade. I can only liken the bizarre, oddly addictive experience to going on a roller coaster for the first time and wanting to go again. For those of you who are game (it is not for the unadventurous eater or faint of heart), I encourage you to go for a ride. Does spicy chocolate with popping candy sound like something you’d want to try?

The candy that so attracted the writer in third grade was probably Pop Rocks:

Pop Rocks is a carbonated candy with ingredients including sugar, lactose (milk sugar), corn syrup, and flavoring. It differs from typical hard candy in that it creates a fizzy reaction when it dissolves in one’s mouth. (link)

[That’s carbon dioxide — carbonation built into the candy.]

Or possibly it was World Confections’ Crack-Ups:

If you are so minded, you can even make popping-candy chocolates at home — like Exploding Truffles:

Exploding Truffles literally pop in your mouth! Pop Rocks candy is combined with chocolate ganache to produce unique truffles that are a real blast to eat. The combination of chocolate with popping candy is unusual, but it adds a fun, playful element to the truffles that I really enjoy. This recipe yields about 2 dozen small truffles. (link)

The ingredients are simple enough — 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate (about 1 cup chopped), 4 ounces heavy cream, 5 .33-oz envelopes popping candy, like Pop Rocks, and 12 ounces chocolate candy coating — but the preparation is complex; see the recipe.

Back to Mara Chibnik and her gift chocolates: from one source, cherry rooibos and black salt caramel chocolates, both by Vosges, and then nine chocolate bars from another:

Chinita nibs (caramelized cacao nibs and nutmeg)
Panko (toasted panko and sea salt)
Earl Grey (as in the tea: bergamot flavoring)
Honeycomb (caramelized honey)
Caracas (almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios)
Coco (coconut, almond, cinnamon, coriander)
Firecracker (chipotle, salt, popping candy)
Spicy May (pasilla chile, cayenne pepper, cinnamon)
Coffee & Anise (finely ground espresso and star anise)

[Panko is Japanese bread crumbs — coarsely ground, light and crispy.]

Experimental yums.

One Response to “Gift chocolates”

  1. Lynne Murphy (@lynneguist) Says:

    We bought some dark chocolate ‘lollipops’ that were encrusted with popping candy. Very pretty, and fun to eat.

    it’s been my impression that the generic ‘popping candy’ is more common in BrE, where AmE speakers (of my age, at least) tend to use the brand name. But maybe that’s just because I’ve lived here since people have started to cook with them–e.g. Heston Blumental’s 2003 birthday cake recipe: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2003/may/24/foodanddrink.shopping The popular BrE brand name was Space Dust.

    None of these terms come up in the BNC (but it’s too old for the current trend) and only ‘Pop Rocks’ in COCA, for what it’s worth…

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