Pop rocks are such a fun candy. What other food feels like it’s actually jumping around in your mouth? But could there be a version of pop rocks suited to the one-percenters?
Most cooks love a good challenge. But some things feel like too much even for the best of the best.
That’s how Claire Saffitz felt when she was tasked with making a gourmet version of pop rocks, the candy.
Saffitz is a very successful pastry chef. Her creations have been praised online.
In fact, over 300,000 people on Instagram follow her to see what she’ll bake next.
Saffitz also regularly appears on the YouTube Bon Appetit series Gourmet Makes.
But in the latest episode, it looked like she had met her match.
At the beginning of the show, Saffitz learned that she had to make an upmarket equivalent of pop rocks, and she was not happy. In fact, she spent the first five or so minutes of the video complaining about the challenge. But eventually, she relented and got to work.
To begin, Saffitz looked up just how pop rocks are made in the first place. After all, it’s not like pastry chefs have to make them every day.
She discovered that she would need some pretty industrial strength equipment to make the candy.
It turns out that what makes pop rocks pop is trapped CO2 inside the sugar. And no normal kitchen equipment lets cooks trap CO2!
Sadly, the show couldn’t get her the equipment, so she had to get creative.
Instead, to get something that faithfully had that pop rocks look and feel, she decided to combine citric acid and baking soda into the recipe, hoping that the ingredients would provide a popping sensation when the candy dissolved in the mouth.
For the primary ingredient, Saffitz chose to use hard cracked sugar. And for flavoring, she got some freeze-dried granny smith apples and pulverized them in a blender.
To get the hard sugar, Saffitz combined 150 grams of sugar with 50 grams of corn syrup and 50 grams of water. Then she heated the mixture until it reached 290 degrees farenheit.
Then she took the pan off the heat, sifted in the citric acid, baking soda, green apple and some green food coloring.
Things looked promising, and there was definitely a reaction happening when she was mixing the pasty product together.
Then Saffitz poured the mixture out onto a cutting board so that it could solidify as it cooled.
At this stage, Saffitz tried some of what she’d cooked up.
Instead of popping, she found that the candy was fizzing instead!
She also decided that the green apple wasn’t strong enough of a flavoring.
So she had to whip up another batch, this time by combining freeze-dried blueberry and raspberry.
And for this second batch, Saffitz also realized that she’d need much more citric acid and baking soda to get something closer to a popping sensation.
She tried this second batch. The fizzing was much stronger, and the flavor was fantastic! But she decided that she could make it perfect with one more batch.
For the third version of the gourmet pop rocks mix, she decided to keep the blueberry and raspberry flavors the same. In fact, all she was going to change was that she was going to add double the amount of baking soda and citric acid, so that the fizzing would be just like pop rocks.
But there was a problem. This third version of the mixture had too much air trapped inside it.
So when people ate it, it tasted more like a sponge than pop rocks.
So Saffitz went home to think about how she could perfect the recipe the next day.
As the pastry chef was all out of other ideas, she decided to have another go at making pop rocks, but this time she would use dry ice.
She cooked up another batch of the candy, and before it hardened, she placed it in a bed of dry ice in a freezer and put a baking tray on top of it. Then she shut the freezer.
As soon as the mixture had solidified, Saffitz took the mixture out of the freezer. Immediately, she heard a popping noise. The CO2 in the dry ice must have absorbed into the candy!
This time Saffitz and her colleague tried the candy. It was both fizzing and popping!
It took a lot of work, but eventually, she had created a gourmet version of popping candy.
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Source: Bon Appétit