• Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create an account.

  • product-image-quickten.png.a40203b506711f7664fc62024e54a584.pngDid you know that these all-volunteer forums are operated by the 501(c)3 not-for-profit Society for Culinary Arts & Letters? This holiday season, consider a tax-deductible Quick Ten Bucks to support the eG Forums and help us remain completely advertising-free. Thanks to all those who have donated so far!

Tyler Kinch

Heston Blumenthal's exploding chocolate cake: Popping sugar pre-popping

11 posts in this topic

I was wondering if anyone else has tried making Heston Blumenthal's exploding chocolate cake. One of the ingredients in the crust is "popping sugar", which is basically unflavored poprocks. My understanding is that the chemical reaction that releases the C02 from the sugar is caused when water is introduced, and that the sugar is stable in a fat mixture. However, as soon as I added the mixture to the crust it started popping away... I added some extra sugar on top of the crust, but when I added the chocolate, it started popping again......  I'm a bit worried that I'm going to miss out on this special effect. 

I'm sure it will taste good anyways...

Edited by Tyler Kinch (log)

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, I had the same issue. All the candy popped before we could eat it.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

I have not made the exploding chocolate cake, but I did use Heston's recipe for a popping candy dacquoise from the Fat Duck Cookbook, which is similar in principle.


The popping candy I used was coated in cocoa butter, and specifically designed to be cooked with (and not eaten directly).  If you have used pop rocks or space dust or something from a supermarket then it might not work as well.  The cocoa butter coating helps to stop the bits melting prematurely, but the trick is not to heat up your mixture so the cocoa butter melts, or the popping candy melts, and not to press it too firmly (crushing it makes it pop).

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

I used Molecule-R's neutral popping candy, which I surprisingly found at bulk barn.


Next time, I think I will put the crust  mixture in the fridge for a bit before adding the popping sugar. This should give time for the melted butter to solidify again, and hopefully not interact with the popping sugar.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Ended up sprinkling some on top, and it worked good.

Obviously not as nice as hiding them in the crust... also you can fit a lot more in the crust, so the popping effect on top was a bit subtle.

Really loved the passion fruit flavour :)

1 person likes this

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Heat and moisture set off the popping candy. From the sounds of it the chocolate may have been too warm when you added it to the mix. I've found its best if the chocolate is appox body temp (ie: dip your finger in and it should feel the same temp as your finger.) when you add it the mix with the popping candy.


I've made several popping candy bases this way and haven't had a problem with the candt "pre-popping" so to speak.


Eat / Drink / Enjoy!

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

I just made it this week for my sister-in-law's birthday.  This was done entirely on a whim, so I ended up buying cotton candy pop rocks (gasp!) and using them instead of the unflavored ones. It worked.

  When I crushed the biscuits, and added the sugar and butter, I waited a bit so the butter was entirely absorbed by the biscuits and it was cooled off.  I mixed the pop rocks in half of the biscuit crumbs, patted it into the pan, then sprinkled on some extra pop rocks (entirely for fun), and then sprinkled more crumb/butter mixture on top- just to make sure the rocks were sealed in there nice and securely. I just put it in the fridge while I finished getting the chocolate mixture ready.

Then, I spread some cooled chocolate mixture over it, froze it, and then finished the rest of the steps.  I flocked it using my Wagner paint sprayer, thinned the chocolate with coconut oil. Garnished with dark chocolate curls that I brushed with hot pink lustre dust. 

  The other departure from the recipe was using raspberry puree instead of passionfruit. We don't seem have them available where I live. (Plus, my SIL LOVES chocolate and raspberry.)   

 The look on her face was priceless when she took her first bite of it, and started popping like mad in her mouth. Totally worth the work and the mess, IMHO. :+)

1 person likes this



A 'balanced diet' means chocolate in BOTH hands. :biggrin:

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

That sounds like a *great* cake, ChocoMom. If you ever feel like going to that trouble again, I'd love to see photos!

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

I made a variation as a birthday cake and it came out great. Mine was just the exploding crust, raspberry filling, and chocolate ganache on top. Techincally it was a truffle tart (someone suggested I call it a pop tart).


To keep the pop rocks from pre-exploding, I modified the recipe to use brown butter (cooks off the water, and tastes amazing). I dispensed with browning the shortbread cookies, because the ones I got were nicely browned already, and I'd be getting plenty of toasted flavor from the butter.


I also put a barrier layer of chocolate over the crust. This was dark chocolate, melted, and with a little butter swirled in for pliability.


The raspberries where cooked on low heat until soft. Then I strained out the juices, reduced them, and thickened with a bit of xanthan and arrowroot starch (pectin would probably work also, but I was on vacation and these were the thickeners I'd brought along). 


The ganache on top was just 50/50 dark chocolate and cream. I considered putting the raspberries on top, but the chocolate top let me make a stencil and dust with cocoa powder.


Despite the thickening, some raspberry juice oozed out of the springform pan while setting up in the fridge. But it didn't soak the base. There was plenty of popping. Even two days later the last of the leftovers had some pop left.


In the future I might up the proportion of popping candy (I got the stuff from Molecular Recipes). This was more of a crackling cake than an exploding one.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Is the cake or tart recipe in a book? If so, which one? (I don't have any of his books.  Yet.)  We do a chocolate caramel tart (choc pate sucree, layer of caramel, topped with ganache) and  it would be nice to have a fun variation on that kind of truffle tart.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Is the cake or tart recipe in a book? If so, which one? (I don't have any of his books.  Yet.)  We do a chocolate caramel tart (choc pate sucree, layer of caramel, topped with ganache) and  it would be nice to have a fun variation on that kind of truffle tart.


It's from one of his tv shows (might be in a book too) http://www.channel4.com/programmes/how-to-cook-like-heston/articles/all/exploding-chocolate-gateau-recipe

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Similar Content

    • By bhsimon
      Recently cooked whole bone-in lamb shoulder sous vide for 8 hours @ 80°C. The results were like a typical braise. More interestingly, I weighed the different components after cooking for future reference. Here is the breakdown:
      Before cooking:
      2.1 kg lamb shoulder – whole, bone-in, untrimmed
      After cooking:
      621 g liquid
      435 g bones and fat
      1044 g meat
      Almost precisely half of the total weight was meat. Hopefully this will be helpful if you are trying to calculate portions.
      As an aside to this: we've been cooking our tough cuts (sous vide) whole, without any trimming at all, and removing fat and bones after cooking. It is so much easier and faster than trimming everything beforehand. The excess fat comes off in large pieces and connective tissue peels away cleanly. Lamb shanks, for instance, are tedious to trim before cooking but easily cleaned up after they come out of the bag. It's luxurious to have big, clean pieces of shank meat although some may prefer on-the-bone presentation. We have tried this with pork shoulder, too, and the unwanted fat is easily removed after cooking with lovely hunks of tender meat remaining for slicing, dicing or shredding.
    • By Franzisaurus_Rex
      I need some advice. I have one last piece of pork belly confit in the fridge. I brined these bad boys for about 5 days (brine included pink curing salt), vacuum sealed the squares of pork belly with lard and sous vide them at 158 F for 16 hours. I cooked this on 11/10/16 and its been in my refrigerator since. 
      Here is the general recipe I followed, with some modifications based on my taste: https://www.chefsteps.com/activities/...
      The last piece is still vacuum sealed and submerged (mostly) in lard. Any visible pork only has contact with the bag. 
      It's staring at me. And calling my name.
      I want to deep fry this sucker and have a little date night with the handsome devil I see in the mirror every morning, but the last thing I want is spoiled food. I can't find any conclusive information about how long pork confit lasts for. I've only seen references that duck confit or in general that the confit technique will last for months in the fridge. I have found no sources which directly addresses pork confit.
      Questions/Factors I'm Considering:
      - Does pork confit keep for as long as duck confit?
      - Does vacuum sealing have any effect on the length of preservation?
      - Does sous-vide cooking method affect the length of preservation?
      I know I am probably being a bit paranoid, but I thought I would do my due diligence before taking the plunge, so to speak. Any advice on these questions would be extremely helpful and appreciated!
      The Franzisaurus-Rex
      PS - you should totally make this if you are into sous vide, confit, food, or have any respect for the enjoyment of life. Flash-searing these things after cooking was OUT OF THIS WORLD.
    • By FrogPrincesse
      Host's note: this delicious topic is continued from What Are You Cooking Sous Vide Today? (Part 2)
      Duck breast, 57C for 90 min, pre and post sous-vide sear.



      So the texture was not significantly different from what I get with my usual technique, which is grilling over charcoal. But it's more uniformly pink, and there are no slightly overdone spots. I am pleased with the results even though searing in the house means a ton of smoke and duck fat everywhere!   (I did it on the stove in a cast iron skillet, next time I will place the skillet in the oven)
    • By TdeV
      Is it possible to put a rub on a sous vide item?
      I'm cooking pig wings here and I'm trying to figure how to finish them. This looks good but would require a rub.
    • By eG Forums Host

      Welcome to the index for the Sous Vide: Recipes, Techniques, & Equipment topic, one of the largest and most influential topics on eG Forums. (The topic has been closed to keep the index stable and reliable; you can find another general SV discussion topic here.) This index is intended to help you navigate the thousands of posts and discussions to make this rich resource more useful and accessible.

      In order to understand sous vide cooking, it's best to clear up some misconceptions and explain some basics. Sous vide cooking involves vacuum-sealing food in a plastic bag and cooking it in a water bath at precise temperatures. Though it translates literally as "under vacuum," "Sous vide" is often taken to mean "under pressure," which is a misnomer; not all SV cooking involves food cooked in conditions that exceed atmospheric pressure. (See below.) In addition, calculations for SV cooking involve not only time and temperature but also thickness. Finally, due to the anaerobic conditions inside the bag and the low temperatures used, food safety issues are paramount.

      You can read the basics of SV cooking and equipment here. In the summer of 2005, Nathan Myhrvold (Society member nathanm) posted this informative, "I'm now going to answer my own initial questions" post, which addresses just about everything up to that point. For what came next, read on -- and be sure to order Nathan Myhrvold's highly anticipated Modernist Cuisine book, due in spring 2011.

      As with all indexes of on-going discussions, this one has limitations. We've done our best to create a user-friendly taxonomy emphasizing the categories that have come up repeatedly. In addition, the science, technology, and recipes changed over time, and opinions varied greatly, so be sure to read updated information whenever possible.

      Therefore, we strongly encourage you to keep these issues in mind when reading the topic, and particularly when considering controversial topics related to food safety, doneness, delta T cooking, and so on. Don't read a first post's definitive claim without reading down the topic, where you'll likely find discussion, if not heated debate or refutation, of that claim. Links go to the first post in a series that may be discontinuous, so be sure to scan a bit more to get the full discussion.

      Recipes were chosen based solely on having a clear set of information, not on merit. Indeed, we've included several stated failures for reference. Where possible, recipes include temperature and time in the link label -- but remember that thickness is also a crucial variable in many SV preparations. (See below for more information on thickness.)

      History, Philosophy & Value of SV/LTLT Cooking

      Over the years, we've talked quite a bit about SV as a concept, starting with this discussion about how SV cooking got started. There have also been several people who asked, Why bother with SV in the first place? (See also this discussion.) What with all the electronics and plastic bags, we asked: Does SV food lack passion? Finally, there have been several discussions about the value of SV cooking in other eG Forums topics, such as the future of SV cooking, No More Sous Vide -- PLEASE!, is SV "real cooking," and what's the appeal of SV?

      Those who embrace SV initially seek ideas about the best applications for their new equipment. Discussions have focused on what a first SV meal should be -- see also this discussion -- and on the items for which SV/LTLT cooking is best suited. There's much more along those lines here, here, and here.

      Vacuums and Pressure in Sous Vide Cooking

      As mentioned above, there has been great confusion about vacuums, pressure, and their role SV cooking. Here is a selection of discussion points on the subject, arranged chronologically; please note that later posts in a given discussion may refute earlier ones:

      Do you need a vacuum for SV cooking, and, if so, why? What exactly is a "vacuum"? Click here, here, and ff. Are items in vacuum-sealed bags "under pressure"? Does a vacuum sealer create a vacuum inside the bag? Do you really need a vacuum, or can you use ZipLoc bags? Also see here, here, and here. If "sous vide" means "under pressure," aren't the items in the bag under pressure? There is more along these lines to be found in this discussion.  

      The Charts

      We've collected the most important of many charts in the SV topic here. Standing above the rest are Nathan Myhrvold's charts for cooking time versus thickness and desired core temperature. We worked with him to create these three reformatted protein tables, for beef, fish, and chicken & pork.

      Nathan provides additional information on his charts here. Information on how to read these charts can be found in this post. For an explanation of "rest time" in Nathan's tables, click here.

      Other Society members helped out as well. Douglas Baldwin references his heating time table for different geometric factors (slab/cylinder/sphere) here; the pdf itself can be found here. pounce created a post with all three tables as neatly formatted images. derekslager created two monospace font charts of Nathan's meat table and his fish table.

      Camano Chef created a cumulative chart with information gathered from other sources including Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc. Douglas Baldwin shared this chart devoted to pasteurizing poultry. PedroG detailed heat loss and steady state energy consumption of sous vide cookers in these charts.

      Finally, there is also an eG Forums topic on cooling rates that may be of interest.

      Acknowledgment & Comments

      This index was built by Chris Amirault, Director, eG Forums. It was reviewed by the eGullet Society volunteer team as well as many Society members. Please send questions or comments to Chris via messenger or email.
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.