Move over, hot chocolate, cappuccino and cafe lattes.
There’s a new comforting hot beverage that’s filling mugs this winter: cocoa bombs.
The hollow chocolate globes are loaded with cocoa powder, marshmallows, and other delightful fillings, and it’s changing the way people drink hot chocolate.
The tasty twist on hot chocolate started going viral on the social media platform TikTok, where users take their hot cocoa bombs and pour hot milk on top.
Once hot milk is poured on top, the bomb dissolves, releasing the tasty contents into the mug.
Local bakers are offering their own versions of the the treat that’s – pardon the pun – the bomb.
“It’s a craze right now. We started making them last year when we saw they were kind of becoming a thing, but we had no premonition of how big they’d become,” said Rita Abbio, owner of Cookie Wishes LLC, who has been making cocoa bombs by the dozens and is working to keep up with the demand.
Because cocoa bombs are so popular – it’s the beverage we need for 2020 – finding supplies is challenging. For example, if you haven’t gotten the chocolate molds by now, you’re out of luck.
Last week, Abbio drove to Irwin to pick up 20 pounds of chocolate that a distributor held for her – a smidgen of what she needs – and she is awaiting delivery of a 100-pound order from Rhode Island.
“I’m starting to have a love/hate relationship with (the bombs),” said Abbio, laughing. “Everyone in the world is buying molds and chocolate and making them and selling them.”
Abbio makes the hot cocoa bombs using white, dark and milk chocolate, and in a variety of sizes – from mini to extra-large – and flavors.
“People really love them. Especially in the times we are in now, it’s the little things that make people happy,” said Abbio. “They’re appealing on a lot of levels – people are shopping local and supporting small businesses, and cocoa bombs are a comforting and cozy treat.”
Angelina Simmons, owner of Angelina’s Bakery and Pastry Shop in Canonsburg, began selling hot cocoa bombs in mid-November, and is working hard to meet customers’ demand.
“It’s been crazy. I don’t even need to advertise them. I had to put a limit of six on for people who walk in,” said Simmons. “If they need more, I’m happy to make them, but I need three days’ notice. I’m only a small bakery and I need the time to prep. They do take time to make.”
Simmons makes a variety of flavors, ranging from traditional hot chocolate loaded with cocoa and marshmallows to Mexican hot chocolate, which is filled with cayenne pepper, chipotle chili, nutmeg, cinnamon and cocoa powder
Fun fact: hot chocolate reportedly dates back to as early as 500 BC, where Mayans would drink ground-up cocoa seeds mixed with water, cornmeal and chili peppers.
For grown-ups, a Bailey’s cocoa bomb is available.
“I think they’re just a lot of fun. It’s just fun to watch the chocolate melt. Kids love them,” said Simmons.
Abbio and her daughter, Carly Abbio, a graphic designer, make between 50 and 80 cocoa bombs a day – they’ve been working 12 to 16 hours a day to keep up – and are taking orders.
Because they are busy baking Christmas cookies, that’s the most the pair can produce.
“They’re super fun to decorate. We use edible glitter and come up with fun designs. We’re cookie decorators, so we’re used to intricate, time-consuming stuff,” said Abbio.
The Grinch bomb, for example, is an extra-large white chocolate, green-colored bomb with a tiny red heart on the outside; when hot milk is poured on it, a heart three sizes bigger is inside.
The pair also make, among others, salted caramel, peppermint mocha and Andes mint bombs.
Emily McConnell, owner of Little House by the S.E.A., sells her cocoa bombs at L 3 Design Co. in Washington Crown Center, J&D Cellars and at special events.
She discovered the bombs on TikTok and said her three children were entertained by watching posts of the bombs opening.
“Everyone is interested in hot chocolate bombs, so I started selling them in my friend’s store and making them for the kids, and it’s kind of exploded from there,” said McConnell.
She makes about a dozen flavors, from egg nog and chai tea to orange chocolate and bourbon pecan.
The colorful galaxy cocoa bombs change the tint of the hot milk once it’s stirred, and it’s a hit with children.
McConnell also makes gluten-free, vegan bombs.
The bombs have been served as a creative outlet for McConnell, who has enjoyed playing around with recipes. She uses her own hot chocolate recipe in the bombs, and uses top-notch ingredients, like real molasses for the gingerbread bomb.
“The decorating is always the fun part,” she said.
The bakers are happy about the joy their concoctions are bringing others.
“People have sent us videos and pictures, and telling us how much joy it’s bringing to their families,” said Abbio. “It’s a comfort food, and we need comfort right now in this COVID environment. If people can sit around the fire together, pour some milk over their cocoa and feel good and warm and happy, we’ve done our job for the season.”
Note: Visit the Facebook pages at Angelina’s Bakery and Pastry Shop, Cookie Wishes LLC, and Little House by the S.E.A. Cookie Wishes will sell cocoa bombs at Vintage to Vogue Boutique in McMurray from 4 to 8 p.m. Dec. 10.