Snap, Crackle, and Chocolate? Popping Candy Chocolatiers
Posted: Nov 03 2012
In Israel, they enjoy a peculiar chocolate. Strauss Elite makes a very popular bar: milk chocolate and popping candy. Friends of mine that have traveled there, have stories of this delicious chocolate and attempt to bring back as much as their bags will hold. It's a chocolate combination that is slowly creeping into the palettes of people all over the world. It must be a delightful treat indeed to resurrect a candy fad from three decades past.
Pop Rocks, for those unfamiliar, is the first and most well known carbonated candy. It hit public shelves in 1975, and is made by exposing a candy syrup to high pressure carbon dioxide. The result is a hard candy laced with tiny bubbles of high pressure gas, which explode when liquid weakens the shell. It is a profoundly unusual experience. The decision to combine pop rocks and chocolate is not new, in fact an Official Pop Rock chocolate bar soon followed the popularity of the chocolate, but fizzled when sales dropped due to production difficulties. Since then, other companies have put carbonated syrup onto the market, and chocolatiers have put it to use in a variety of interesting chocolates.
The most popular popping chocolate we carry, is definitely the Chuao Firecracker. The Firecracker uses a unique blend of sea salt, chipotle and popping candy in the mix. The first thing you'll notice about this bar is the quality of the chocolate, Chuao uses Venezuelan Cacao beans exclusively. The salt and chipotle come next, and though the spice is quite strong the added salt helps merge the flavors and keep them from overpowering each other. It's a taste that actively dances across the entire tongue. The pop rocks don't come in until moments later, with their signature tingle. The miniature explosions ramp up the spice of the bar, waking your taste buds to every nuance of the chili pepper, giving the bar a powerful finish. Interestingly the pop rocks have a way of cleansing the palette, which makes each bite of this bar as flavorful as the first. A representative from Chuao gave a little back story on the flavor, "The Firecracker truffle was a flavor that Chef Michael created exclusively for New Year's Eve. It was a holiday bonbon and as soon as the season was over and we did not have it anymore we started getting lots and lots of customers comments asking to bring back that flavor and we did!" It certainly seems to be the case; a person might show trepidation at first, one they get a taste of this unique combination it becomes an instant favorite.
We also recently received a chocolate from Christopher Elbow, his No. 6 Dark Rocks bar. The No. 6, doesn't have the salt or spice of the Firecracker, instead choosing to emphasize the synergy of the popping candy and chocolate alone. On my first bite, I was instantly reminded of a tasty chocolate ice cream soda. The popping candy is used very differently from the Chuao bar, the No. 6 pops sooner across giving the chocolate a bubbly feel. The chocolate itself has an incredibly rich and smooth texture with a flavor that persists even after the chocolate is swallowed. I had the opportunity to ask Christopher Elbow what he liked about the combination, "It adds a touch of whimsy and is unexpected. It is fun to watch peoples faces when they eat it.". That's certainly been the case in our little store, there's nothing quite like the surprise and excitement on someones face when the popping really starts. I also got the chance to ask Christopher Elbow about some of his inspiration for this particular bar. " It wasn't until a trip to Europe back in 2005 that I came across pop rocks used in confections. A chocolatier in Spain had made an almond based praline that had pop rocks in it. It was very good."
The famous Spanish chocolatier, Oriol Balaguer, has turned some heads with his phenomenal combinations.
The Mazcleta chocolate bonbon has had a few incarnations, but it is typically a dark chocolate filled with a hazelnut praline, popping candy, and a slight hint of citrus orange. It has been said that the Mazcleta is the source of artisinal popping chocolate, and to hear the glowing reviews of the chocolate makes me consider buying a plane ticket to Spain. The name, Mazcleta, is indicative of a Spanish festival and the massive firework displays that accompany it, I can imagine no better name. More widely, pop rocks have appeared in a wide variety of limited edition chocolates across , in everything from Cadbury to Milka. It's an unusual combination, but popping candy adds much more to the chocolate than sheer novelty. If you haven't had the chance, it is a spectacular sensation I highly recommend.