Remember Pop Rocks?
Well they’re back. And this is not the stuff of urban legends. This is the stuff of dark chocolate lovers and those searching for high end confections. No mixing with Coca-Cola, no exploding stomachs. Just chocolate. Dark chocolate meets Pop Rocks. Granted it’s probably been done many times before, and inventive pastry chefs have most likely dabbled with these exploding candies in a recipe or two. The brand Pop Rocks even came out with a milk chocolate bar in 2007. But this time, there’s a serious chocolate maker at the helm, Christopher Elbow.
I first experienced Elbow’s artistry many years ago, in the form of individual chocolates with beautiful and colorful designs, encasing creative and sophisticated flavor combinations. There was a strawberry balsamic caramel, I recall, a rosemary caramel, and another chocolate with a yuzu-infused ganache. I have to admit that I haven’t had anything of his since then; the chocolates were only available through mail order, and the company still sells almost entirely online, save a few stores in San Francisco, Chicago and Kansas City, those lucky residents! So when I stumbled upon a few of his chocolate bars in Food Emporium (go figure!), a New York City supermarket, I was excited to try. I have already confessed in previous posts to my forever curiosities of new chocolate flavors, so Christopher Elbow’s were quickly added to my repertory.
The collection of bars comes in attractive brown packaging, much more toned down than his signature pieces. Bars are numbered from 1 to 12, with flavors including 61% dark chocolate with ground roasted coffee (no.5), 41% milk chocolate with ground roasted hazelnuts (no.10) and white chocolate with roasted cocoa nibs (no.11). I went for no.6, Dark Rocks. I’m sure I heard of chocolate mixed with popping candy years back, but I was never intrigued and just waved it off as a silly fad. But here was a talented chocolatier taking a go at it. So I went for it too.
It resembles other classic dark chocolate bars at first glance: thin bar, glossy exterior, loud snap when you break it. But there’s lots of little speckles all over it, especially noticeable when you break it up, perhaps easily mistaken for ingredients in a Crunch bar. But take one bite and you’ll know it’s no Crunch bar. Biting the chocolate adds an extra crispness to its otherwise smooth texture, and you can hear little popping sounds as you chew. But if you let the chocolate melt slowly on your tongue, you’re in for more of the classic Pop Rocks sensations. I was never a huge fan of these tingling special effects, and I will admit preferring my chocolate pop-free. But it’s certainly a change from the more usual chocolates on the market, and a fun way to surprise your friends when you offer them a piece of chocolate.
Just don’t serve them a glass of Coke with it. Hey, you never know…