Learn all about popping sugar, including novel ways to use it.
by Kate Heyhoe
I'm a sucker for newfangled ingredients—though I'm not always sure what to with them. It usually takes some testing, tinkering, and imagination. But when a container of "popping sugar" arrived, ideas literally popped into my head.
What is popping sugar? Think: Pop Rocks candy, with a neutral flavor and a more subdued effervescence. Popping sugar is essentially carbonated sugar: sugar bits containing carbon dioxide.
How does popping sugar work? As the sugar dissolves, it releases the trapped carbon dioxide, which sparks tingling and popping in your mouth. "The fizzy sensation...triggers a pain response from the nerves in the tongue and the mouth. This nerve response also intensifies aroma and taste," according to one maker, Molecule-R. (This is why beverages taste blander after they lose their carbonation.)
How is popping sugar made? Sugar is heated until it melts. It's cooled in a pressurized chamber with carbon dioxide, which in turn gets trapped within solid sugar chips.
How do I use popping sugar? Essentially, you want to avoid any treatment that will melt or dissolve the sugar. Molecule-R says: "Popping sugar melts in contact with any aqueous liquid and should be stored in a dry environment. However, it does not melt when in contact with fat or oils so it can be mixed with ingredients such as chocolate, foie gras, ice cream or icing."
The little can of popping sugar didn't tell me much about itself, other than a sticker reading "Sensitive to Humidity and Heat." So after opening, be sure to seal airtight and store at room temperature.
Have any recipe suggestions? Melt chocolate to use as a coating or as a chocolate bar or bark; as the chocolate cools but while it's still melted, sprinkle popping sugar on top. Molecule-R suggests dipping strawberries in melted chocolate, then rolling them in popping sugar. (For your little monkeys, how about popped-up chocolate-covered bananas?)
Use as a Garnish That Pops: Use popping sugar as you would a finishing salt, sprinkling it on just before serving—creme brulee, for example. Brighten up French Toast or Cinnamon Toast with a splash of popping sugar. Peanut butter with popping sugar, anyone? Or better yet, Nutella!
Popping Sugar by Molecule-R
Popping Sugar by Molecule-R is sold in 2.8- and 21-ounce containers:
Kate's Global Kitchen Archive
Copyright © 2013, Kate Heyhoe. All rights reserved.
This page modified May 2013
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