(Pop) Rocks Cupcakes

July 2, 2010 · 31 comments

The idea was simple enough; a funfetti cupcake that exploded, like fireworks on the Fourth of July, when you took that first bite, entirely unaware of what the frosting hid. The execution, however, was anything but simple. Pop Rocks, after all, are a fickle and frustrating little candy, poised to pop when exposed to the liquid they encounter in your mouth. I hoped initially that Pop Rocks were chemically engineered to explode when they interacted with something that existed in only human saliva. Not the case. (Of course.) Liquid of any kind and literally, in any amount, sets them off. In a bit of pre-baking research, I read that the trick to preserving the Pop Rocks’ explosion was to use fat as a protective ingredient. Armed with this new, strange knowledge, I planned on mixing the Pop Rocks with butter, and continuing on with the cake recipe, creaming the butter with brown sugar. Problem #1: The Pop Rocks exploded when I opened their packaging, reacting with the moisture in the air, which, believe me, is minimal here in the dry, Phoenix desert. Problem #2: The butter didn’t protect the Pop Rocks at all. Each new ingredient I added made the Pop Rocks more active, until it sounded like I had the world’s biggest bowl of Rice Krispies chattering away in my kitchen. Sigh. While the end result was a pink tinted funfetti cupcake that contained none of the exploding qualities of Pop Rocks I’d dreamed of, I can’t write it off as an entire failure. Even without the firework mimicking explosions, I managed to create a delicious, moist cupcake. I have my neighbor to thank for that one.

Some people borrow an egg, or a cup of sugar in a pinch from a friendly neighbor. I’ve gone one step further and borrowed the entire recipe. While we still really haven’t gotten to know our neighbors in our new home, those living around my parents’ home in Ohio are the best. Denise, who lives right next door, is working on compiling a cookbook of her family’s recipes. In the process, she found her great, great grandmother’s recipes, which call for things like “5 cents worth of baking carbonate ammonia” and “one teacup of sugar.” I did a bit of research to modernize some of the recipes, and used her great, great grandmother’s Everyday Cake recipe for my cupcakes. I was a little nervous that my modernization efforts would taint the original recipe, but the cupcakes baked and tasted fantastic! Thanks, Denise, for sharing this one with me :)

Great, Great Grandma’s Everyday Cake
recipe adapted from Denise

1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup boiling water
1 egg
1 cup sour milk (To sour your milk, add one tsp. lemon juice or vinegar to milk (low-fat will work fine) and stir. Let it sit for 15-20 minutes.)
1 tsp. (heaping) baking soda
3 cups flour (leveled with a knife to be exact)
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup Pop Rocks (Clearly, this represents the adaptation.)

If you choose to attempt the Pop Rocks cupcake, mix the candy into the softened butter. Cream butter (with or without Pop Rocks) and brown sugar. Add boiling water, soured milk, egg and vanilla. Mix well. Add flour and baking soda, mixing well again. Spoon into lined cupcake pans and bake for 18-20 minutes in a preheated 350 degree oven. Set cupcakes on a wire rack to cool, and when they have cooled completely frost and decorate. (See below for frosting recipe.)Yields 18 cupcakes.

Fluffy Vanilla Frosting
recipe adapted from Martha Stewart

3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks)
2 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

Beat softened butter on medium high speed until creamy. Reduce speed of mixer and gradually add confectioner’s sugar, beating until a pale, fluffy frosting forms. Add vanilla and beat until frosting is smooth.

A few final side notes to this, the longest post ever :)
1. I still have no idea how much 5 cents worth of something is. If you have any clue, both myself, and I’m sure Denise would love to know!
2. Writing a cookbook isn’t all Denise is working on right now. She also owns her own full-service marketing firm in Cleveland, Ohio, 4 Simple Marketing.
3. This isn’t the only Fourth of July dessert I plan on making this year. Cake pops inspired by Bakerella are next on the to-do list.
4. Happy Fourth of July :) Hope yours is happy, safe and fun!

{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

Kelsey July 2, 2010 at 2:00 pm

damn these are incredible! id love to try one and have bursts of fireworks in my mouth!! haha talk about a fun 4th of July suprise!! u could charge people for these, ud get a fortune! <3


~Lisa~ July 2, 2010 at 2:11 pm

OmyGoodness, how creative. And I remember when poprocks first appeared. I was 10 and my dad at the time was a candy distributor so I had poprocks before anyone knew what it was!

You also have been awarded the Sunshine Award! For your sweet stories and mouth watering and healthy recipes! Come by my blog to pick up the award!


Salsa Verde July 2, 2010 at 3:04 pm

Absolutely amazing and gorgeous!!


Debbi Does Dinner Healthy July 2, 2010 at 3:05 pm

I love pop rocks! That would have been awesome in a cup cake if it actually worked! Great idea though!


Beth @ DiningAndDishing July 2, 2010 at 3:33 pm

What a fun fourth of July recipe! It’s a totally unique idea! I would imagine it’s not the easiest thing ever, but the results look well worth it :).


Monet July 2, 2010 at 4:02 pm

This would be so fun on Sunday. My husband’s little brothers are coming in town to visit, and I just know they would love these


pigpigscorner July 2, 2010 at 4:11 pm

What a fun cupcake recipe!


Raina July 2, 2010 at 4:32 pm

I love this idea! Though the Pop Rocks already popped, you came up with a very festive and delicious-sounding cupcake:) I think my kids would love these..thanks!

I love the old fashioned recipe…a teacup of sugar..lol. My grandmother has a few recipes where she says one handful of..funny because she has huge hands..lol.


Brownieville Girl July 2, 2010 at 5:25 pm

I love a recipe with a history. Thanks to you (and your neighbour) for sharing.


Le July 2, 2010 at 6:29 pm

i’ve never had poprocks before, we never had any cool lollies like that here. lol. This looks and tastes funtastic!


Debbie July 2, 2010 at 7:32 pm

Failure or not, it sounds fun and you learned something! Cupcakes are pretty darn cute still!


Rosa's Yummy Yums July 2, 2010 at 7:43 pm

cute cupcakes! I’ve never had poprocks, but they sure sound great!




Hannah July 2, 2010 at 9:27 pm

I love how these cupcakes were “chattering” away in your kitchen! Teehee!! Even though pop rocks makeme feel queazy when eatin them… but I can still appreciate how pretty these are!


Chef Dennis July 2, 2010 at 10:27 pm

hey Sarah
I have to say they look pretty darn good…I would have loved to have heard the excitement in the bowl! Pop Rocks were a great idea!
thanks for sharing


Cook with Madin July 2, 2010 at 11:23 pm

Cute post and great photos. I would love to try these, great idea about Pop Rocks.


ajcabuang04 July 2, 2010 at 11:27 pm

What a great idea!! I would have never thought about that. So creative. I remember watching the foodnetwork and they were talking about pop rocks and how they add carbon dioxide to sugar, or something like that, and so once the outer exterior of sugar melts, the carbon dioxide is released creating the “pop”. Just a fun fact. haha


Cookie Sleuth July 3, 2010 at 1:03 am

That is so neat how you found the recipe! I have my grandmother’s notebook of recipes, and it is so fun to look at. Have a great 4th!


mangiabella July 3, 2010 at 1:24 am

i am so going to love following your blog, thank you for visiting mangiabella and would love to have u follow if you aren’t already – this post was great, I cannot tell you how many baking or cooking blunders i’ve come across myself…. mostly from experimentation – but hey, that’s part of the art of living, yes? getting ready to post something on augustine with my recipe for stuffed french toast (with some secret ingredients hehe)….keep shining sweet bella!


Sarah from 20somethingcupcakes July 3, 2010 at 10:40 am

I think it was a total success! I never would have even thought of Pop Rocks to begin with. And they still came out great. Love it! Have a great weekend! xxSAS


Linda www.mykindofcooking.com July 3, 2010 at 11:25 am

Too bad the pop rocks wouldn’t work the way you wanted then to but at least you ended up with delicious cupcakes!


Heather (Where's the Beach) July 3, 2010 at 11:34 am

How fun!!! Thanks so much for stopping by my blog – I normally reply to each comment, but am short on time today. I look forward to checking out your site!


Baking Barrister July 3, 2010 at 11:40 am

i want my own bowl of exploding pop rocks! i recently had some for the first time in years and they still hold the same appeal.

did you try turning them into sprinkles? Like, mix a pack of pop rocks with the same colored sprinkles? I wonder if the frosting would dissolve the outside.


myfeetinmotion July 3, 2010 at 12:41 pm

I’m the same way! I love checking how many viewers! I love meeting new people so much, I think that’s why I get curious how many people are really reading. Since some people don’t leave comments, they just like reading!


thehungryscholar July 3, 2010 at 12:48 pm

Don’t drink it with coke…or whatever the urband legend is. Those look FANTASTIC and so patriotic!


Melissa July 3, 2010 at 1:16 pm

Those are so cute! I’m sorry the Pop Rocks weren’t more of a success. Though I did get a good laugh out of reading your story. ;o)


Megan D July 3, 2010 at 3:09 pm

Wow how creative is this?! I never would have thought, but they are so perfect for the 4th!!


Foodessa July 3, 2010 at 4:07 pm

These funky pop rocks brought back so many crazy memories…one of them being to get thrown out of the classroom for having a colored tongue LOL
Fun post. Flavourful wishes, Claudia


scrambledhenfruit July 3, 2010 at 11:09 pm

Pop Rocks rock! I’d have never thought of the idea of incorporating pop rocks into a cupcake- it would be so awesome to figure out how to do it. :) I remember the look on my grandson’s face when I first introduced him to pop rocks-tee hee- he loved them! Even without the tiny explosions though, the cupcakes look fantastic. Thanks for sharing!


Fashion Meets Food July 4, 2010 at 10:51 am

My mum use to make these when I was little all the time! I absolutely loved them!

xo have a fabulous 4th!


Ingrid July 4, 2010 at 12:05 pm

How cool to be using a recipe handed down to your friend, Denise. Thanks for sharing!


Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday July 10, 2010 at 10:29 pm

Oh wow, I love antique recipes like that. It makes you feel like you’ve really made a connection with the past, eh?

That’s a really creative idea with the pop rocks! Too bad it didn’t work out quite as you hoped. I guess not all recipes can be successes.


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