This year, I haven’t done many baking projects, so when a weekend card game of Exploding Kittens was on the horizon, I threw together a quick, themed dessert.
Since I was busy with other projects, I didn’t get to devote any thought time to the project until the day of the game. As the combination of food and explosions rules out a lot of safe and edible options, I was having a hard time. Finally, with a couple hours left, I downgraded explosions to mild pops and decided to use Pop Rocks candy. I know, not very explosive, but totally edible. The problem with Pop Rocks is that they are carbon dioxide enclosed in a candy shell via pressurization during production. This means that the moment you open them, they begin to dissolve, even in a relatively low humidity environment like Cheyenne. So, how do you get them into something like a moist, delicious cupcake without losing all your Popiness? Oil. The answer is oil. Water dissolves the sugary candy coating, releasing the trapped carbon dioxide (the pop). Oil will not dissolve the coating, although eventually it will break down anyway. My plan was to make the cupcakes, hollow out a center, stuff it with a chocolate ganache, then make a little well or indentation in the ganache, coat it with a thin skin of butter and put the Pop Rocks in oil coated well, with more ganache with butter as a lid on top to form a protective container. In theory, this would mean the maximum possible Pop left until mastication and saliva opened the oil-Pop barrier.
Good right? I know, I’m amazing.
But, what I am not is a time bender. I left work the moment I thought I could get away with it, ran through the store to grab ingredients, tasked Slick with picking up Pop Rocks from the single candy store in town, and rushed home. I got the ganache made, the cupcakes made and the icing prepared, but I ran out of time. Guests were arriving when I was still in the middle of cutting the middles out of the cupcakes. I begged five more minutes, then crammed a spoon of ganache and Pop Rocks into the cupcake holes and slapped the icing on in a vague cat face shape – because I at least had to fit the game theme! No time for shaped ganache wells coated in candy-Pop protective butter. Oh well.
By the time we got to desserts, about 90-95% of the Popiness was gone from the candy. I know some was left, because I could hear a few pops from the mouths of my guests. No explosions, no wild looks of surprise, but there were cat-faced desserts in the end. Close enough, I suppose.
If you’re going to try this dessert, leave yourself time for the ganache well and butter coating or surrender the idea. Also, if you plan ahead, you could order the Pop Rocks that are already chocolate coated, or the baker’s supply ones that are only coated in cocoa butter. That is for flavor recommendations only – you still have to protect the candy from moisture, but at least it will be easier to match flavors instead of being limited to Pop Rock brand choices. Strawberry flavor barely worked with the chocolate cakes and ganache.