There are few things better at defrosting chilly noses and toes(es) than a big mug of sweet, creamy hot chocolate. A cold-weather staple and easy to make, hot cocoa can be made from scratch, from powder, in a microwave, or on a stovetop. If you’re looking to shake up your usual hot chocolate routine this winter, try making these fun and delicious hot cocoa bombs.
If you’ve ever seen a magical chocolate ball dessert in action, you know how cocoa bombs work. With a magical chocolate ball, warm sauce is drizzled over a hollow sphere of solid chocolate. The sauce melts the sphere, causing the structure to break away to (usually) reveal a second, smaller dessert hiding inside. With these hot cocoa bombs, the filled chocolate balls are dropped directly into warm milk. Once the chocolate melts, the bomb bursts open to reveal hot cocoa powder and marshmallows, instantly transforming a warm mug of milk into a rich, decadent treat.
For the best results making your chocolate spheres, I recommend getting a flexible silicone mold like this one from Pastry Chef. My molds are 2" in diameter, which makes a chocolate sphere slightly smaller than a tennis ball. I wouldn’t go much larger than 2 ½” if you’re planning on putting the bombs in a standard-sized mug.
Your hot chocolate bombs can be filled with your favorite hot cocoa toppings, whether that’s a bunch of mini marshmallows, one huge marshmallow, cinnamon or cloves, caramel sauce, or brown sugar. If you feel like having a cocoa smorgasbord, mix and match toppings and mugs for an ultra-tasty game of who-gets-what. This recipe sticks with the classics: Swiss Miss powder mix and a generous handful of mini marshmallows.
Making a hollow chocolate sphere that holds its shape takes a little bit of finesse, but it’s mainly a matter of patience and a bendy silicone mold. Check out some pro tips for some of the trickier steps after the main recipe.
Fill a small to medium-sized saucepan with water and place over medium-high heat. There should be enough water to submerge the bottom half of your heat-resistant bowl without overflowing into the bowl itself.
Add your chocolate chips to your heat-resistant bowl and set the bowl in the saucepan. Leave over heat, stirring the chips occasionally, until the chocolate has melted into a thick, smooth liquid -- about 10-12 minutes total.
Dollop a large spoonful of melted chocolate into your half-circle molds one at a time. Using the back of your spoon, smooth the chocolate evenly over the mold.
Place your silicone mold in the freezer and let chill for at least 45 minutes.
Place a small skillet over low heat.
After your chocolate has completely solidified, very carefully pop your half-spheres out of their molds.
Set halves on a chilled plate. Evenly distribute one pack of Swiss Miss powder into three of the six half-spheres. Add around 8-10 mini marshmallows to each of the filled halves.
Pour your milk of choice into the mugs you plan on using to serve your hot cocoa. The mugs should be filled just over halfway. Pour out the mugs into a small saucepan and place over medium to medium-high heat.
Take an empty half-sphere and place rim-down on the skillet for 8-10 seconds or until the chocolate rim is just softened.
Lightly press the softened rim onto a filled half-circle. Use your finger to flatten the smushed-out melted chocolate smooth onto the outer edge -- it looks neater and it works as an edible glue. Once all three spheres are formed, set in the fridge to re-chill.
Pour any remaining Swiss Miss powder from your first pack and the entire second pack into your milk. Mix over heat until completely dissolved. You don’t want your milk to boil, but it does need to be hot enough to crack open the chocolate bombs.
Remove your milk from heat and pour it back into your mugs. Plop a hot chocolate bomb into each mug and watch it work its melty, chocolatey magic. Stir, sip, enjoy!
The trick to strong structural chocolate is in the flick of the wrist. Short spoon strokes can create streaks in the chocolate, which will turn into weak spots as it solidifies. Smooth your melted chocolate into the mold in one or two large, circular motions. If you’re having trouble completely covering the mold, add more melted chocolate.
To prevent crumbly rims, make sure your melted chocolate is just as thick around the rim as it is in the center of the sphere. The stronger the edges of the half-spheres, the easier it will be to join them into one large circle.
Popping your half-spheres out of their molds is admittedly the trickiest step, but as long as your chocolate is completely solidified (there’s no rushing this one), you can expedite the process by making your silicone mold work for you.
First, gently pull the mold away from the rim of the half-circle—just enough to release the outer edge from the mold. Then, use your finger to apply pressure to the back of the mold in the center of the sphere while simultaneously bending the mold away from your chocolate. The mold should move around the chocolate, not the other way around. Slow and steady is the name of the game!