Oh the amount of love I have for my sisters.... Being the pastry chef in the family means being the one they come to when they have questions or requests for certain things they find out there on the interweb. Unless you've been living under a rock, I'm sure you have seen the super trend cocoa bombs making their rounds this year. And of course they eventually made their way to my sisters social feeds and a text message later, I'm figuring out what I have and what I need to make some for the family.
Before I get into the actual making of cocoa bombs I want to talk about the trend and how weird trends are to me. As a pastry chef my social feeds mostly compose of pastry related content. For the past two years I have seen the same video of a cocoa bomb melting in a glass of hot milk. Super cool video, awesome idea and concept. This is now the third year and for whatever reason this year they are trendy and everyone and their mother is making some. I've seen many businesses selling them and even have heard Costco has them for sale on a mass produced scale. I honestly hate the idea of "staying on trend". A) I love classical pastries so why do new things, but B) it's a whole industry on it's own of knowing what is coming next and being there for large companies to be the front of that line. I'm more into being in my little kitchen of doing my own thing and if something cool comes around awesome, I'll try it but sometimes I'm just not into it.
Now back to this year. My sisters think these things are so cool, and they are, I just knew they would be some work because I'm ~extra~. But they wanted to try them and of course I'd like to try one as well for that wow factor of the melting ball revealing marshmallows and turning a cup of milk into hot cocoa. I couldn't do the simple and easy path for this though. As an extra person, I needed to make the mini marshmallows instead of buying them and rather than using a coating chocolate that doesn't need to be tempered I wanted to use a nice couverture because again ~extra~ and I like to give my family some tasty treats. I already had ONE silicone half dome mold and some plastic ornaments that I thought I'd try to use as molds. So I didn't need to get too much to make these, just some extra cocoa powder for the mix inside and I was ready to make some cooca bombs.
Let's break down this whole process. The first thing is making the marshmallows. Today's marshmallows and the recipe I use myself is nothing like the original. Egyptians were the first to make "marshmallows". Using the marshmallow plant, they would squeeze out the sap and mix it with honey and nuts to make a candy. This was a delicacy and meant for gods. Over time it evolved into a whipped confection and then in the 1800's, French confectioners replaced the marshmallow sap with gelatin to stabilize the treat into the modern marshmallow we know today! There were some other changes through those times. At one point egg whites were used similar to a meringue in marshmallow making, but I use a sugar base so that it is shelf stable and lasts a long time to be used in so many delicious treats.
Before we get into the recipe I want to talk a bit about the whole process. This recipe is from a class I took in high school at Baking Arts in San Francisco. Richard is the owner and teacher, he has since moved his location south to San Mateo where he has a whole retail store and still teaches. If you ever want to learn something definitely check out his classes, he is super calm and knowledgeable. I learned so much from him before going to culinary school and he's just great.
Like I mentioned above, this recipe uses a sugar base. It's pretty much two main mixtures, sugar syrup and bloomed gelatin. Make the sugar syrup and start cooking it, while it's cooking you can bloom the gelatin in the mixing bowl. Once the gelatin is bloomed I put salt and flavor on top (if using extract add it later) and then once the syrup reaches temp, pour it in and whip into marshmallow! I do want to point out that since it is gelatin, when the mixing first starts it will steam and the steam will smell a bit like a farm. Gelatin comes from animal bones and skin so it isn't the best smell at first but it will disappear and leave no scent or flavor.
As the marshmallows are whipping up you can prep the pan and spatula. This recipe fits perfectly in a quarter sheet pan (half standard home size). I see a lot of people use powdered sugar or corn starch in the pan but personally just grease the shit out it. I also put parchment in the bottom to make sure it comes out completely. At the same time GREASE THE SPATULA. This is a sticky mixture. It will stick to everything anyways but greasing the spatula will help you out to make it quicker and smoother. Once in the pan smooth as much as you can but don't worry about making it perfect, it won't happen. Sometimes I grease a second sheet of parchment to get a slightly flatter top but overall it's not worth the hassle.
Once in the pan, they are ready to cool. It doesn't take long, about an hour then you can cut them up. As for the coating, I use a 50/50 mixture of powdered sugar and corn starch. The added sugar allows for a sweet flavor right off the first bite rather than a starchy one from corn starch alone. It also makes it caramelize when you toast them on a fire in a way that is better than any marshmallow I've ever had. When you cut you can also do it based on the use. During the summer I make them about the size of a graham cracker for the perfect s'more. For the cocoa bombs I made about 1/4 inch cuts then cut them again in half to make thin stripes. As you cut, dust with more of the sugar/starch mixture to keep things from sticking. I always shake off the excess with a strainer to make sure they aren't messy when you eat them. I have a video making them in my program, Baking with the Unperfect Chef. Click the link at the top for more info and to sign up. This will give you a better idea of the whole process and some more tips inside. The finished marshmallows will last for quite some time in an air tight container. If I don't use them within a month I'll coat them in chocolate to seal them and make them last even longer. Plus chocolate covered marshmallows don't last as long as regular ones. Now let's get into this actual recipe....
21.6g Powdered Gelatin (3 standard packets)
114g Water, cold
2 tsp Vanilla Powder or Extract
or 1 whole Vanilla Bean
350g Granulated Sugar
230g Light Corn Syrup
Place the cold water into the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the gelatin on top. Use the whisk attachment to toss and make sure all of the gelatin is hydrated. Allow to sit for 5 min before placing vanilla and salt on top.
In a small sauce pot, bring the sugar, water, and corn syrup to a boil without stirring to avoid recrystallization.
Bring mixture to 242-244℉.
Pour sugar into the gelatin and slowly increase the speed on the mixture to whip up sugar without letting it fly out.
While mixture is whipping, spray a quarter sheet pan with cooking spray then line with parchment and spray again. Also spray a rubber spatula to scrape the mixing bowl.
Once the mixture begins to string from the whip on the sides of the bowl (it'll still be warm), scrape into the prepared pan and spread as evenly as possible.
Allow to cool before cutting, about 1 hour.
Make a 50/50 mixture of powdered sugar and corn starch, spread on top of marshmallow before flipping onto a cutting board and covering the rest with sugar mixture too. Cut into desired shape and size and toss in more powdered sugar mixture to prevent sticking.
Shake off excess sugar mixture and place in an airtight container.
Now for these cocoa bombs. Before starting the chocolate I had to make the hot cocoa mix. I checked out a few places to see what other people did, mostly just powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and milk powder. Since I was planning on making these in milk I didn't feel like milk powder was needed but I wanted to make a nice flavor so I did add some malted milk powder for an extra fancy flavor. I ended up doing about equal parts powdered sugar and cocoa powder with a few scoops malted milk powder. Honestly did even measure and tested it for flavor in a small glass, adjusting as needed. Don't forget the chocolate will melt and add creaminess and more rich, chocolaty flavor.
With the mix and marshmallows made, it was time to make some cocoa bombs. I had a silicone half dome mold and these plastic ornament halves. I tempered some dark chocolate and filled them up. I see a lot of videos of people brushing the chocolate in the molds but I hate cleaning chocolate from brushes so I did a more professional technique of filling the molds then inverting it and pouring extra chocolate back into the bowl. I did pop the mold into the fridge to help quickly set the chocolate but when you do this make sure to flip the mold so that the edges don't get too thin, otherwise you can easily break the shells and this way they will be easier to attach.
Once the shells are solid, you can pop them out. This is where I was over these things. The ornament molds did not work and they all broke. So I didn't have many bombs because I only had ONE mold. So make sure you get extra molds if you want to attempt these. I ended up doing more another day so that I had enough to give to my sisters. I also got a heart shaped mold (I've been dying for this one) and that way I can make cute heart shaped ones and I'm sure these will be good come February and not just a holiday thing.
With the shells made, I added a small scoop of cocoa mix, added some marshmallows then more mix to fill in the gaps. To seal, heat a pan on a burner and place one half on it to melt then quickly place on filled half to close. Once sealed I powdered through them all then tempered some white chocolate for a little drizzle action. It's amazing how a simple drizzle can turn something from oh cute to damn that's fancy. So make the extra effort and do a drizzle. Add sprinkles too if you're into that.
With the cocoa bombs done I gave some to everyone. Of course had to take some videos do one for social media and be like I did it too. And that's it! I will say the couverture made them super rich and I'm a fan of rich cocoa. I'm not a fan of most hot cocoas, my favorite was at the Valrhona factory/school in France. Thiers literally tasted like thick melted chocolate and that's what I'm into. Just pour melted chocolate straight in my mouth and skip the milky drink. It was a fun thing to make, and I think I made my sisters happy. They also know these are special treats that I will not be doing often. And I never plan to sell these because that is just too much effort for me. Hats off to those that make a lot of these and sell them. You do you, I'm going back to more fun pastries and baked goods.
OVERALL: Fun little party trick but not worth thee effort. Support a small business and buy some.