Exploding Hot Chocolate Versus Traditional Hot Chocolate: Is the Fun Worth the Fuss?

Exploding hot chocolate, January 2021’s latest dessert craze, may not be the ‘cocoa-lossal’ improvement it first appeared to be.


Jaymie Paredes

This is a flatlay of the ingredients that I used when creating my cup of exploding hot chocolate. I advise against using gem-shaped molds because it is difficult to fill them evenly with melted chocolate.

Hot chocolate, the tried-and-true wintertime favorite, has been given a dynamic new twist! Using the same basic ingredients — milk, marshmallows, and chocolate — exploding hot chocolate has become the perfect way to put a fun spin on a classic drink. Although the trend has been around for some time, exploding hot chocolate has recently recaptured our attention through TikTok. As we begin what is certain to be a frigid, ice-filled start to 2021, creating warm holiday treats and beverages in the comfort of our homes is starting to sound more appealing than taking a walk at the park. 

Here is a list of the basic ingredients needed, but once your technique has been honed, you have complete creative freedom to personalize your own exploding hot chocolate drink:

  • A silicone mold (Although hemispheral molds are recommended, any type of mold will suffice as long as the diameter is about 5 centimeters).
  • Hot chocolate powder 
  • Candy melts (These circular products can be melted to use for decorative purposes and can be found near the silicone molds in a store).
  • White, milk, or dark chocolate (The chocolate can be melted and used to form the shell for the chocolate bomb as an alternative to the candy melts).
  • A bag of mini marshmallows 
  • Hot milk

Here is a rough list of steps to get you started, but you can customize the quantity of ingredients to suit your personal preference. 

  1. Melt a bar of chocolate (approximately 100 grams) or a handful of candy melts, either by using a microwave or double-boiling them.
  2. Mix the chocolate or candy melts to ensure that they are completely melted, and pour them into a silicone mold.
  3. Keep each shape as hollow as possible by removing excess chocolate or candy melts from the molds. They will function as the halves of the shells that will envelop marshmallows, hot chocolate powder, and other such ingredients. 
  4. Place the silicone mold in the freezer and wait ten to twenty minutes for the shells to harden. Use a warm surface to melt the edges so that you can easily stick two halves together.
  5. Place your mini marshmallows, hot chocolate powder, and any other decorative treat inside one of the halves. Stick two halves of the shells together to form one ball of chocolate. 
  6. Prepare a glass of hot milk, place your chocolate “bomb” inside, then wait patiently for the explosion of marshmallows and hot chocolate powder.

Before making this drink, I thought that ‘exploding hot chocolate’ was an aggressive name for the warm, comfortable drink. However, I soon came to realize how fitting the name was. Disregarding the explosion of the mini marshmallows in the drink, there was also an explosion of ingredients in my kitchen. 

The end product was not nearly as rewarding as I had hoped, and it certainly did not make up for the mess I created in my kitchen. Others agree. “Maybe my expectation for some bath bomb, colorful magic made exploding hot chocolate less of a show for me,” said Samama Moontaha ’21. “It was very anti-climatic; I saw a cute ball of chocolate turn into a few simple marshmallows.”

“I’ve personally never made it, and to be honest, I’ve heard people say that it doesn’t actually taste that good,” said Alina Chan ’21. Placing all of the ingredients in a chocolate ball means that all the ingredients would have to be measured in advance, or the taste would not match the cute display. You may even have to add hot chocolate powder anyway to improve the flavor, which defeats the purpose of the chocolate ball altogether. 

This captures the anticipated moment before the explosion of marshmallows in the drink. (Jaymie Paredes)

Overall, making hot chocolate in the traditional manner seems to be the best option in terms of cleanliness and efficiency. However, my opinion may be biased due to my clumsiness when making holiday treats. 

I made many mistakes over the course of creating my exploding hot chocolate drink. To make sure that anyone who attempts this challenge after reading this article fares better, I’ve included some tips that may be useful:

  • Make sure your molds are large enough to fit a decent number of marshmallows. I underestimated the size of mini marshmallows, so my molds were only able to fit two mini marshmallows. 
  • Do not make your chocolate shells too thick because they will take a long time to melt, but do not make them so thin that they break when you take them out of the silicone mold.
  • If you are using candy melts, follow the instructions carefully when melting them. I accidentally burnt my first batch of candy melts because I did not follow the instructions carefully enough. 
  • Using candy melts instead of chocolate will make the drink a lot sweeter, so if sweet drinks aren’t your style, use dark chocolate for the chocolate shells.
  • With candy melts, I found it easier to clean the silicone mold when the candy melts started to harden. However, I found it easier to clean spoons and bowls while the candy melts were still melted because it washed away easily with water. 

Your opinion may certainly differ from mine; there are many people who have made and enjoyed exploding hot chocolate. “It’s really fun to watch the chocolate melt, which is the main reason why people do this,” said Shahi Majonaj ’24. “It has that ‘wow’ effect.”

“I think that hot chocolate is such a comforting thing for so many people, especially during the holidays,” said Hannah Bennett ’22. “I know that making it can also be a fun activity for people to do together.”

Coupled with warm blankets or a holiday movie, exploding hot chocolate certainly does the job of capturing the holiday spirit. However, it’s fair to say that the finished product itself is nowhere near as fulfilling as the process of making the drink with the people we love.

“Maybe my expectation for some bath bomb, colorful magic made exploding hot chocolate less of a show for me,” said Samama Moontaha ’21.