Social media has been (pardon the pun) “exploding” with chocolate lately! Yes, we’re talking about hot chocolate bombs, or “HBCs” as we’ve come to affectionately call them. This new way of enjoying hot chocolate isn’t only stunning, it invokes all the feels — a little bit of extra excitement and a fun family activity for the cold winter months. While you can certainly buy HBCs, they’re also relatively easy to make. I tested out a few conventional and unconventional ways of making them — read on to replicate what I’ve found works best.
A word to the wise: Making HBCs, no matter what method, is like making pancakes. The first couple are usually the roughest. With a little practice, I promise you will get the knack of it.
Relatively inexpensive, these molds are easily found on online or at a bakery supply store, and produce a nice result. I’ve found that silicone molds are easier to use than acrylic molds, which you might see a professional use with tempered chocolate for the shiniest result. But silicone molds are more foolproof for the home baker — you’ll find the chocolate releases much easier. Don’t want to buy one? Read on to find out how you can make HBCs with items you already have.
You’ll use this to brush the melted chocolate into your spheres and also for decorating.
A Skillet or Other Shallow Pan
When you’re ready to place the two halves of your HCB together, you’ll use a pan to to gently heat the edges, ensuring a successful, precise seal.
You’ll need these to decorate.
Protective Gloves (optional)
We know not everyone has these lying around their kitchen, but they’ll help you avoid smudging your hard work.
If you decide be bold and go the route of tempering your chocolate (instead of using melting wafers), you’ll need to be able to accurately read the temperature — more on that in a second.
No chocolate chips or morsels here, please — they can have additives that will negatively affect the texture and stability of your HBC (basically, it just won’t work) . You’ll need to use chocolate melting wafers or a chocolate bar.
If you’re a beginner chocolatier, I recommend sticking with chocolate melting wafers (note that these are different from candy melts, which might not be chocolate at all — skip those). These lovely little rounds were invented to be melted, and when hardened, act as if your chocolate has been tempered. More confident cooks can try their hands at chopping and tempering chocolate bars. Tempering chocolate creates structure, shine and snap — all wonderful qualities for molded chocolate.
Semisweet chocolate, dark chocolate and milk chocolate are going to be your best friends in producing stable spheres. I prefer using white chocolate strictly for decoration, but white chocolate bombs can turn out just as lovely and delicious.
Hot Chocolate Mix, Mini Marshmallows and Sprinkles
Use your favorite pre-made mix or make your own homemade version with good-quality cocoa powder (such as Dutch process cocoa), sugar and a pinch of salt.
We’re going to assume that most people reading this won’t temper their own chocolate — but here’s how to do it, if you want to. For the rest of us, melt your chocolate wafers according to the package directions — you’ll likely microwave them gently or melt them in a double-boiler on your stove. Then you’re ready to get building!
Here’s our tried-and-true method for making beautiful HBCs.
1. Thoroughly clean and dry the molds. The chocolate will lose its luster and can crack if the molds are not clean and dry.
2. Paint the molds. Using a small silicone pastry brush, the back of a small spoon, or even a clean paint brush, apply the melted chocolate evenly to the mold. Allow the chocolate to harden completely in the refrigerator for 5 minutes. Apply a second coat and allow to harden.
3. Remove the chocolate spheres. Gently releases the edges of the chocolate from the mold and smoothly push the sphere free. Do not over handle your domes; they will quickly begin to melt and smudge. Place them back in the fridge for a few minutes if you think they’re getting too warm.
4. Create a sharp edge. Delicately place each sphere’s edge on a gently warmed surface. (I warmed a cake pan. You may use a skillet as well.) With a light circular motion, melt it slightly, creating a clean edge. Do not overheat the pan and do not push down on the spheres too hard!
5. Fill half of your spheres. Pour 2-3 tablespoons of cocoa mix and a smattering of mini marshmallows into half the chocolate spheres (you’ll use the other half to close them into complete spheres.)
6. Seal the halves together. Once more, gently warm the edge of the empty half-sphere on your warm cake pan or skillet. Swiftly fuse the half-spheres together. Ta da! A hot chocolate bomb!
7. Decorate. Have fun! Go wild. Melt chocolate wafers or bars, as we did before, and pour the chocolate into a piping bag or zip-top bag. Snip the slightest bit off a corner of the bag, and you are ready to pipe. Embellish your works of art with different colored and textured sprinkles, sugars, and confectionary dusts.
Craving a hot chocolate bomb after a fun day out in the snow, but you don’t have a silicone mold? Try using this ingenious foil method. Take a piece of foil and fold it in half and then in half again to create a sturdy piece. Gently form the foil around a baseball, tennis ball, plastic Christmas ball ornament, or any ball that’s no bigger than 2 1/2 inches. (You want it to fit into your mug!)
Remove the foil from the ball and delicately cut the excess foil at its equator, creating a smooth, even edge. Now you have a foil mold that can exactly like its silicone and acrylic buddies. Make an even amount of foil molds and you are all set to apply the melted chocolate just as you would the silicone mold method.
This method works well and it creates such an excitingly textured dome. When sealed together they resemble rocks, which my niece and nephew loved! Try it with other shapes too.
This is an even more unconventional way to create a hot chocolate bomb. A few hours before you plan on making your hot chocolate bombs, pour water into any small 2 to 2 1/2-inch bowl, place a small spoon or teaspoon in the water and freeze it for 2-3 hours until solid. I used these cute plastic heart shaped bowls.
When your ice mold is completely frozen, using the heat from your hand, gently allow the ice to release from the bowl. You now have a half-sphere or ice form that you will dip into your bowl of melted chocolate, coating the ice evenly.
The ice will harden the chocolate in a minute or two. Then, with the palm of your hand, ever so gently, shimmy the chocolate free. The ice mold can be used several times, just be sure to “dry” the ice with a paper towel in between uses. Water and chocolate don’t mix, and if the melted chocolate is too hot or the ice mold is too wet, the melted chocolate will not stick to the ice. I recommend making at least two of these ice molds so you can work in batches. In between uses, keep the mold in the freezer because ice … well, you know.
This method works well and the sky’s the limit when it comes to ice shapes you can form. The chocolate finish on this method is a bit more rustic than the ultra-clean and shiny finish you achieve with the silicone molds, but it still is effective.
Ready to get even more creative with your HBCs? Here are some fun little variations you can play with: