Chocolate Coated Crackle Crystals Popping Candy
As we learn more about food and the human body, it is becoming increasingly clear that taste is only a very small part of what makes food appealing to us. Texture has a huge role to play in the way we experience an ingredient or dish, and there has been plenty of research to support the idea that our enjoyment of food draws on information from all our senses, not just taste.
This is especially true when it comes to desserts, which is often served as a single dish and is therefore ripe for some interesting additions. A sprinkling of something that shakes up the whole texture and flavour of a dish can be just the thing to take it from a regular dessert to a taste sensation.
Chocolate coated crackle crystals are a great addition to a range of dishes, from elaborate constructions to a simple bowl of ice cream. They are a great ingredient to have on hand as they also add an element of surprised to an otherwise standard-looking dessert the chocolate looks like standard sprinkles, but once theyre in your mouth they start to crackle and pop like a chemistry experiment taking place on your tongue.
The science behind crackle crystals
These little crystals are carefully designed to give maximum effect. The outside is a cocoa butter added to stop the crystals from absorbing moisture from the air or when sprinkled onto food. Because it doesnt melt until its eaten, the crackle of the inside is even more of a treat.
The technique was developed in 1956 by a scientist who was determined to create a hard sweet that incorporated pockets of gas inside a solid sweet. The recipe was patented in 1961 and the world of confectionery hasnt looked back.
The effect is created by carbonating a sugar mixture of the same kind of recipe usually used for hard sweets. These usually comprise various ingredients such as corn syrup, sucrose, colourings and a variety of different flavours alongside the sugar.
This syrup is heated to high temperatures in order to allow any excess water to evaporate to get exactly the right consistency for the sugar mixture. The hot syrup is then carbonated using food grade carbon dioxide in a high pressure environment. The carbonated syrup is then cooled quickly and kept under pressure to prevent the gas escaping and retain the carbonation in the mixture as it hardens.
This method stops large sugar crystal from forming, instead resulting in a sweet that has pockets of carbon dioxide throughout. These give the popping candy its signature look as well as being key to its impressive effects.
What makes them crackle?
Once the sugar cools, it forms a brittle sweet that fizzes, crackles and even pops when eaten. The reason for this strange sensation is a chemical reaction that takes place in the mouth when crystals are eaten.
The bubbles of carbon dioxide that are trapped in the candy act in much the same way as they do when used to carbonate soft drinks. The effect is activated when your saliva melts the sugar, releasing the pressurised bubbles of carbon dioxide.
These not only give the physical sensation similar to that felt when bubbles pop in the mouth, but scientists have also discovered that it activates specific taste receptors, imparting the unique taste that our brains recognise as carbonation.
As a vegetarian and gluten free ingredient, these chocolate coated crackle crystals are the ideal addition to a range of dishes and as a stand-alone treat in their own right.