Of course, you can try making them at home (more on that later), but bakers still report selling cocoa bombs. Frenzied moms groups on Facebook are worried about buying them for the holidays.
Sithiya Reshmee, who runs F&R Sweets Online, based in Arlington, Va. With partner Farah Bahr, says they are full until December and are no longer taking orders. Cocoa Bombs have been their biggest seller since they put them on the menu three months ago after discovering them on TikTok (Reshmee and Bahr are high school kids, so they’re more native to the platform than many others. retailers). Before that, chocolate covered strawberries were a signature candy.
Reshmee sees the appeal of the new bombs to children and their parents. “It explodes and the marshmallows come out and there’s all this goodness,” she said. “It’s fun – it’s also a great gift.”
Kara Nielsen, who follows food for trend forecasting company WGSN, agrees it’s the visual element that made cocoa bombs catch on. “He’s got a sensory engagement that’s very current,” she says.
Other factors are at play. Since everything about pumpkin spice latte (a flavor now known simply as PSL) dominated fall, seasonality has been an important quality in food trends, she says. And the pandemic winter has increased the demand for DIY and comfort activities, which the cocoa bomb provides. “It provides warm coziness at a time when we are all wondering how can we bring joy into our lives – it fits the season and the situation this year,” says Nielsen.
But once the pandemic is in our rearview mirror (soon, please?), Can cocoa bombs last? In other words, is it more of a cake pop – the confection that started as a novelty but quickly became a legitimate part of the baking canon – or a pancake cereal, which has benefited from a brief moment of virality on social networks?
Eric Torres Garcia is betting on the first. He claims to have created the very first cocoa bomb, which he showed in a TikTok last year. In the video, he plunges a chocolate orb into a mug and pours hot milk on it, while Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas” plays. The marshmallows come out and then rise to the surface of the frothy concoction. He captioned it: “Would anyone buy them?”
The answer turned out to be a resounding yes, and the video garnered 1.7 million views in 10 hours (it now reaches 2.5 million). Garcia registered the name, opened an online store on Cocoabombs.com, and now fulfills orders for thousands of candies in flavors such as peppermint and Mexican chocolate. “It was insane,” he said of the initial response.
As for how the trend has translated into home kitchens, just try to find the 2 or 2 1/2 inch silicone molds used to make them. Many retailers are out of stock or out of stock on the flexible trays that have been marketed to take advantage of the cocoa craze, beyond their original intention for candies, mousses and domed cupcakes.
Of course, the internet is full of DIY tutorials, so we took a look at making them ourselves. Let’s just say it’s safe to assume that not everything you see is as easy as it looks online (shocking!). We hiked almost 2 kilos of dark chocolate over several days and came out the other end still not having fully mastered the concept. A generous neighbor lent us one of the molds, but we also tried bundles in a silicone tray to make spherical ice cubes, a well-used silicone muffin pan, plastic wrap mugs and the shell plastic of a Kinder Joy egg (a hack we found online).
The efforts ranged from passable to downright catastrophic (those lined mugs), although they weren’t even consistent between batches made with the same equipment. All silicone molds have worked at one point or another, and even the Kinder Joy has worked a few times. Much of this depended on the temperature of the chocolate – too thin, it runs in the mold, too thick not to spread – and the quality of its application. Our bombs were getting thinner and weaker towards the top, where they tended to crack and shatter on withdrawal. The appearance of the chocolate varied from glossy to matte. Chocolatiers and pastry chefs know how to temper chocolate for a perfectly glossy finish and proper grip and smack, but the typical home cook, especially one without an instant-read thermometer, might find it more difficult.
If our experiences are any indication, then that you can make the chocolate shells at home, you will have to enter it with expectations of a potentially steep learning curve and less than 100% success rate. For us, it just wasn’t worth it. We’ll be perfectly happy to stick to making a batch of hot chocolate the old-fashioned way, but no less delicious.
Or go ahead and support one of the many local businesses that use the bombs to stay afloat. Garcia is not worried that small bakers will offer copies of his creation. “I’m not going to take it out on people who are trying to survive, especially during these times,” he says. “I watch large companies.” He plans to expand his business next year.
Nielsen also suspects that the trend could have legs. One thing in its favor is that hot cocoa is something that many people already consume – as opposed, for example, to cloud bread. “He has a fashionable element, but when you think of the qualities that would hold him up, do you think so, will people have the same needs next year?” she asks. “Will people still need a fun way to mix hot chocolate?” Probably.”