Featured image: Hot chocolate bombs by Camel City Coffee (courtesy photo)

A stream of hot, silky milk slowly cascades and splashes into and on top of a spherical orb in a ceramic mug. The countdown begins as the compact globe disappears under the reservoir of cream only to emerge misshapen and nearly dissolved. At long last, the sphere of chocolate opens up in dramatic fashion to reveal diminutive marshmallows, cocoa powder, iridescent glitter and colored sprinkles. Melted globules of chocolate swirl and dance in the cup. It’s not a time bomb, but it’s a hot chocolate bomb.

Like many other food trends of 2020 — dalgona coffee, cloud bread and pancake cereal — hot chocolate bombs got their start in videos posted on the TikTok app and spilled over into the cultural mainstream last year. So far, hashtag #hotchocolatebombs has been used on TikTok more than 164 million times. Thousands of tutorials demonstrate how to carefully temper melted chocolate to achieve a glistening sheen on the final product and pour it into round, silicone molds. The hollowed halves are then filled with cocoa mix and marshmallows, sprinkles and other edible surprises, then set with melted chocolate along the seams. At the end of the process, the bombs are sometimes drizzled with more chocolate and decorated with festive candy decorations. Swiss Miss and hot water can’t hold a candle to this steamy trend.

For those unfamiliar, hot milk is poured over each chocolate bauble set inside of a mug or cup. The bombs open up, revealing the goodies inside and creating a decadent cup of hot cocoa once stirred together. The cup lends itself to fodder for videos and photos to be posted on social media. The TikTok app may be the genesis of a handful of food trends but the phenomena of hot chocolate bombs has hit the retail market with a boom. Dozens of retailers from ubiquitous Costco to high-end Neiman Marcus are selling the cocoa-packed parcels en masse. The bomb has dropped and it has also landed in the Triad in a big way.

Chelsea Tart, owner of Camel City Coffee in Winston-Salem, started selling the trendy hot cocoa balls just before Christmas, but ran into problems right off the bat.

“I couldn’t get any of the molds you use to make them,” she said in a conversation via Zoom in late December, citing shipping backlogs and supply-chain issues. “And when I finally did get them, it was after Christmas.”

Hot chocolate bombs by Camel City Coffee (courtesy photo)

Tart — formerly of Tart Sweets, which was located in the West End neighborhood — is well-acquainted with the painstaking, time-consuming work of creating confections for public consumption. Known for her French macarons, edible cookie dough and custom cakes, her talent and focus are now at Camel City.

She was not completely sold on creating more bombs after the holiday season, but has since changed her mind. Tart is now offering flavors such as strawberry creme, vanilla creme, marshmallow milk chocolate and cookie dough at $5 a pop in her Ardmore shop.

“They’re really time consuming to make and decorate but people seem to really love them,” says Tart.

For people who think the cocoa bomb trend is just for kids, Salem Organic Supply in Winston-Salem is making people think again. The shop is a retailer of alternative and holistic health products, including CBD and hemp products. One of the newer items on the shelf is a hot-chocolate bomb infused with a legal form of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), called Delta-8-THC. The cannabinoid is a less potent and legal form of THC which is the primary psychoactive compound known to provide the stereotypical effects of getting high. People often report that due to its reduced potency, Delta-8 provides them with a smoother, more mild high that is less sedative and more functional than Delta-9 without the anxiety or paranoia.

“I had no idea what I was doing but I did test a lot of recipes,” says Salem Kirby, a local insurance agent by day and freelance chocolate-bomb creator by night. Kirby was contacted by Salem Organic owners in the middle of December after she posted a video of her homemade hot-chocolate bomb on Facebook. She uses her 12-year-old daughter’s cocoa-mix recipe that involves a little bit of cayenne to fill each bomb. With flavor names like Unicorn Secrets (buttercream frosting flavor with multicolored sprinkles) and Peppermint Magic (crushed peppermint and chocolate), each bomb has between 40-45 mg of THC infused in the chocolate shell.

The unicorn secret hot chocolate bombs by Salem Organic Supply have a buttercream frosting and rainbow sprinkles. (courtesy image)

“I’ve been learning as I go and figuring it out as I go because edibles have always been scary to me,” Kirby says.

Through a lot of experimentation, she learned to mix premium chocolate with melting candies to make the molds easier to work with and taste better. The classic, round molds were not available when she was ready to start producing the spherical hot-chocolate creations, so she used mini square brownie cake molds and chopsticks to stir the chocolate. Now, Kirby makes 24 at a time and hopes to migrate to infusing chocolate with CBD oils.

“I’m no expert on these things,” Kirby says. “I haven’t made the same batch of cocoa bombs twice. I can’t stop experimenting until I figure out how to make it right and then I make the next recipe.”

Just like fads, trends and the winter season, the hot chocolate bomb craze won’t last forever. Until then, we could all use a little magic in the form of sparkling high quality, rich dark chocolate in our cups right now.

Want to try?

  • Camel City Coffee: 110 Oakwood Dr. Suite F, W-S; 103 West 3rd St. W-S; camelcitycoffee.com
  • Salem Organic Supply: 545 Trade St., W-S; salemorganicsupply.com

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