Yes, it is possible to make Pop Rocks, the famously fizzy candy, right in your own kitchen. No, you don't need any special equipment or 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 the ability to stay humble as the compliments roll in.
DIY Pop Rocks
Recipe adapted from The Daily Meal
What You Need
- 3 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
- 1½ teaspoons baking soda
- ¼ cup plus 2 teaspoons citric acid, divided
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- ⅓ cup honey
- ⅓ cup water
- Gel or liquid food coloring (your choice of color)
- Baking sheet
- Small bowl
- Spoon for mixing
- Candy thermometer
1. Prep the Baking Sheet
Dust the bottom of a rimmed baking sheet with the confectioners' sugar. Be sure to coat the surface thoroughly.
2. Mix Baking Soda and Citric Acid
Combine the baking soda and ¼ cup of the citric acid in a small bowl, and mix gently to combine. Set aside.
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, begin monitoring the temperature closely. When the mixture reaches between 295 and 300 F, remove from heat.
If at any point you notice granules of sugar sticking to the sides of the pan, brush them down with a slightly wet pastry brush.
Immediately stir in the baking soda and citric acid mixture and the food coloring. Whisk until everything is combined. Work quickly, as the candy will begin to set rapidly.
5. Spread onto the Baking Sheet
Pour the candy onto your prepared baking sheet; try to coat the sheet evenly, as the mixture is a 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).
Keep in mind: If your candy layer looks uneven or ugly in the pan or appears speckled by spots of sugar or citric acid, don't worry. You will literally be crushing it in the next step, so the visual appeal isn't too important at this point.
6. Let it Set
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's brittle and breaks off easily, you're ready to move on to the next step.
7. Break it Up
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.
Store in airtight containers at room temperature, away from direct sunlight.
Popping the Questions
Citric Acid Sounds Scary! Is It?
Don't worry, it's not going to burn a hole through your spoon. It's simply a fermented citrus by-product that's used as a flavoring and natural preservative.
Citric acid can be tricky to find — not because it's rare or exotic or expensive (we bought it for less than $2), but because different stores stock it in different areas. You might find it with the canning supplies, since it's frequently used in canning. Or look in the baking aisle. While you may not see it at all grocery stores, your local superstore (Target, etc.) is likely to carry it, or you can buy it online.
Do I Really Need a Candy Thermometer?
Yes. 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.
I Don't Like Honey. Is There a Substitute?
Sure. Swap in the same amount of corn syrup.
Photos and artwork via CakeSpy