If you really want to knock people’s socks off, all you have to do is make homemade pop rocks.
Photos and artwork via CakeSpy
Yes, it is possible to make Pop Rocks, that tongue-searing fizzy food, right in your own kitchen.
No, you don’t need any fancy equipment or to have a science degree (though you can wear a lab coat if you’d like). This at-home version of the classic candy attains its magical fizz through a combination of citric acid and baking soda.
Once you’ve assembled your ingredients, all you need is a candy thermometer, about an hour of time, and to prepare yourself for all of the compliments you’re going to get once you serve this sweet and fizzy stuff to your friends.
Homemade Pop Rocks recipe
Adapted from The Daily Meal
- 3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons citric acid, divided (see recipe note)
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1/3 cup water
- Gel or liquid food coloring, your choice of color
Dust the bottom of a rimmed baking sheet with the confectioners’ sugar. Be sure to coat the surface.
Combine the baking soda and 1/4 cup of the citric acid in a small bowl, and mix gently to combine. Set to the side.
Clip your candy thermometer to the side of a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, or have your instant-read thermometer at the ready. Place the sugar, honey and water in the pan. Stir to combine. Place the mixture over medium heat. The mixture will progress from quite sandy to liquid to vigorously bubbling. Once it starts bubbling, start monitoring the temperature closely. When the mixture reaches between 295 and 300 F, remove from heat.
Note: If at any point you notice granules of sugar sticking to the sides, you can brush the sides of the pan with a slightly wet pastry brush.
Immediately stir in the baking soda and citric acid mixture and the food coloring of your choice. Whisk until everything is combined. Work quickly, as the candy will begin to set rapidly.
Pour the candy on to your prepared baking sheet. Try to pour so that you coat the sheet evenly, as the mixture is a little bit difficult to spread with a spatula (though it can be done; it will just look a little messy). Sprinkle the top of the candy with the remaining citric acid right after spreading (as it won’t stick once the candy sets).
Note: if your candy layer looks somewhat uneven or ugly in the pan, or spots of sugar or citric acid are speckling it, don’t worry. You will literally be crushing it in the next step, so the visual appeal isn’t too important at this point.
The candy will set rather quickly, between 20 minutes and an hour depending on the heat and humidity in your kitchen. Break off a corner; if it is brittle and breaks off easily, you’re ready to keep on going.
Break the candy into large shards to make it easier to handle, and transfer it to a large freezer bag (or divide it between two bags). Force out any extra air and seal the bag(s). Gently roll a rolling pin over the candy mixture to crush it to your desired degree.
Store in airtight containers at room temperature, away from direct sunlight.
Does citric acid sound scary? Don’t worry, it’s not.
It’s a fermented citrus by-product which is used as a flavoring and natural preservative. Citric acid is also the trickiest ingredient to obtain for this recipe. This is not because it is a rare or exotic ingredient or even expensive (I bought mine for less than $2), but because it is not always consistently in the same spot in stores. Your best bet is a store that is well stocked in canning supplies, as citric acid is frequently used in canning. Citric acid may also be found in the baking aisle. While it may not be readily available at all grocery stores, your local superstore (Target, etc.) is likely to carry citric acid, or you can buy it online.
A candy thermometer is vital to the success of this recipe.
It doesn’t have to be a fancy one, but you’ll need to be able to monitor the temperature of the candy to ensure it will set firm.
Need to make a substitution?
This recipe calls for honey; corn syrup can be substituted in the same quantity.