The untold truth of hot chocolate bombs

It's a blustery December day. Visions of sugarplums are dancing in your head. You're stuck inside huddled around the fireplace in your winter's finest, plaid pajamas. The kitchen beckons you for a warm, soul-soothing beverage. Are you reaching for a cup of coffee? No. The seasonal beverage of choice is, of course, hot chocolate. 'Tis the season! We have the ancient Mayans to thank for this tantalizing drink. According to The Spruce Eats, the Mayans began drinking chocolate, made from crushed cocoa seeds, as early as 500 BC, and then it made its way to Spain, where they began sweetening the mixture and serving it warm around the 1500s. 

As a child, your mother may have reached for a package of Swiss Miss, the instant hot chocolate powder that mixed with milk and quickly satisfied your very basic taste buds. Well, those days are long gone. Today, we're all about the pomp and circumstance when we partake in the wintery delight. Cue: the hot chocolate bomb. This next-level creation may look like a visually appealing sphere of chocolate, but hiding inside is cocoa mix, marshmallows, and all sorts of edible bites of joy. The real fun begins when it is placed inside a cup of warm milk. It extravagantly melts open and transforms into a rich cup of hot chocolate. The sensation has inspired viral trends, caused the masses to line up, and even has influenced wannabe suburban chocolatiers to their hand at making them from scratch. 

Outrageous hot chocolate is nothing new

The evolution of this liquid gold is a rather complex one, but we're fairly confident the ancient Mayans would be all sorts of confused if they saw just how far hot cocoa has come. Few trips to New York City have been spared from a trip to Serendipity 3. People travel from near and far, seriously from all over the globe, for a giant bowl of their now infamous frozen hot chocolate. Celebrities, dignitaries, and even Oprah, have shown up to the Manhattan restaurant for this over-the-top creation that is a custom mix of 14 gourmet cocoas blended to sipping perfection with milk and ice.

Our cocoa-inspired journey takes us next to the chocolate capital of the world, Hershey, PA. If only Milton could see it now, because here you'll find an entire bar dedicated to hot chocolate. As you bask in the glory of over 5 million lights on Hersheypark's Christmas Candylane, you can sip on a Reese's Extreme Hot Chocolate that's not only loaded with peanut butter sauce and Reese's Pieces but topped with an entire cookie bar. That's right. All of their hot chocolates are topped with an entire cookie bar. Even Willy Wonka would turn his head at their totally Insta-worthy frozen hot chocolate that's complete with a snowman topper and mini cupcake. We're still scratching our heads how we ever settled for instant mix. 

What exactly is a hot chocolate bomb?

As hot chocolate has evolved from the mundane to the simply lavish, it's no surprise that we've found ourselves with the hot chocolate bomb, but what exactly is it? According to the Food Network, the basic gist goes something like this. Individual chocolate balls, in the form of hollow spheres, are created from fresh chocolate and molds. They are filled with cocoa mix and whatever else you'd prefer in your hot chocolate, this is typically marshmallows and sprinkles, but anything sweet fits the bill. They are often decorated on the outside with icing and even more candy, like crushed cookies, and sprinkles. You'll next place the chocolate bomb in a mug of hot milk. The bomb begins to dissolve in the milk, releasing whatever goodies are inside. You simply stir and voila!

They've gotten to the height of popularity so much that big retailers, including Target, Walmart, Trader Joe's, and even Costco have gotten in on the action. Novice cooks haven't been spared from the challenge and have begun their own DIY journeys into making these edible pieces of art. Sphere silicone candy molds are all over Amazon as well as the crafting giant, Michael's.

Oprah had a hot chocolate bomb on her 2018 list of Favorite Things

You could perhaps call Oprah Winfrey the original influencer. On her award-winning television show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, she put everyone from authors to actors on the map. Her audience of millions relied on the star for her seal of approval. But starting in the 1990s, we waited with bated breath each year for her annual Oprah's Favorite Things. Around Thanksgiving every year, and still to this day with O, The Oprah Magazine, Winfrey shares the products she deems worthy of our attention that make for great gifts. Customers were eager to run out to the shops, while retailers were met with the challenge of keeping up with the staggering demand she triggered.

In 2018, Winfrey chose Carl the Drinking Chocolate Snowman, which set in motion the craze we are all experiencing today. Made by Kate Weiser Chocolate, this premium chocolate bomb is stuffed with marshmallows and more, making an entire pot of hot chocolate. Almost too cute to eat (almost), Carl has since been joined by Carla the Peppermint Drinking Chocolate Snowman, and both are available from Neiman Marcus for a chilling $32 each. 

TikTok goes gaga over hot chocolate bombs

As 2020 banished us to the indoors, bored people took to the newest social media sensation, TikTok, to blow off steam, and so the global craze for hot chocolate bombs was born. Ambitious home cooks became amateur chocolatiers as they showcased their creations, with some videos landing millions of views. According to Eater (and to the joy of dentists everywhere), the hashtag #hotchocolatebombs has been used nearly 200 million times. 

If you think there's nothing more visually satisfying than watching a ball of chocolate dissolve into a cup of milk, think again. Meet Olaf. Winter is a good time to stay in and cuddle, but it's made infinitely better with the loveable snowman in chocolate bomb form. That is, if you can get your hands on him. He's certainly worth melting for as eager hopefuls line up daily at The Ganachery in Disney Springs at Walt Disney World, the only place to find him, for their chance at snagging this adorable treat. Fans first caught wind of it thanks to the Disney Parks TikTok that went viral. The swoon-worthy Olaf bomb is made up of caramel hot chocolate and vanilla bean marshmallows. According to Today, the shop has only 75 molds making it difficult to keep up with the demand. They usually sell out within 45 minutes of the store opening daily. May the force be with you if you attempt to get your hands on this one. 

There's an entire Facebook group dedicated to hot chocolate bombs

If it's on social media, it must be true. Not exactly, but we can say that the viral hot chocolate bomb trend has also hit Facebook. These days, there's a Facebook group for just about everything and every passion. Over 50,000 hot chocolate bomb enthusiasts gather virtually on the official group called All Things Hot Cocoa Bombs. The group is private but they'll gladly add anyone who melts over these chocolate creations. It has gotten so popular, in fact, that the admin has recently had to turn off posting just to keep up with it.

The group is a one-stop resource for creativity and inspiration, and always there to answer any and all questions you may have about the latest DIY craze. What type of chocolate melts best to create a hard exterior shell? How do you get the drizzle just right? All the answers are just a click away thanks to this group.  

Trader Joe's can't keep them in stock

We're not sure about you, but a $32 piece of chocolate in snowman form from Neiman Marcus just may not be in the budget this year. Luckily, you won't have to sacrifice the cute factor, or your wallet, thanks to Trader Joe's. The retailer with an almost cult-like following that has given us cauliflower gnocchi and Speculoos cookie butter comes in clutch this holiday season with a hot cocoa snowman

Complete with a white chocolate exterior that gives way to milk chocolate chips and mini marshmallows, this one will only set you back $1.99. Perfect as a stocking stuffer, or to keep for your own indulgences (because 2020), fans are obsessed with this version that is not only delicious but totally adorable. We hate to be the one to break the bad news to you, but you may be left to melt into a puddle outside of TJ's, because this has proven to be nearly impossible for staff to keep on the shelves. 

Hot chocolate bombs can be mini works of art

By now you've gotten the basics. Spheres of chocolate are filled to our fancy with cocoa mix and other sweet treats to come together with milk in our newest favorite holiday drink. Thanks to the seemingly never-ending time on our hands, we've seen creativity shine in 2020, whether it's in hilarious memes or belly-laughable videos. People have tapped into that special place and entertained us along the way. Experienced chocolatiers and the aspiring have gotten creative with their bombs and turned them into mini works of art.

Meet Earl the Squirrel. As Universal Orlando's unofficial holiday mascot, he's an adorable cartoon squirrel that's here to wreak havoc on your Christmas tree and decor. Or, so the story goes. Available for sale only inside Universal Studios Park in Orlando, Earl the Squirrel's hot chocolate is topped with a so-real-you-won't-believe-it's-fake ornament that is actually a chocolate bomb. The chocolate shell of the ornament dissolves into the hot chocolate, adding a welcomed richness and an explosion of marshmallows. One for the chocolate obsessed, the result is thick and creamy, almost like a melted candy bar (and we're not complaining one bit). 

The bombs aren't limited to classic hot chocolate flavors

When a piping hot cup of chocolate is made properly with quality ingredients, there's nothing like it. Chocolate makers have not stopped at the basics as the potential for the trend has gone well beyond your standard milk chocolate. Using the finest Belgian chocolates, creative entrepreneurs are expanding our holiday palates with inventive flavors. Over in Orangeburg, NY, the Chocolatier Matisse, owned by Danielle Hudak, offers not only the standard milk, dark, and white chocolate varieties, but a plethora of flavors like Nutella, mint truffle, dark cherry, and even Lucky Charms. Color us intrigued!

The Southern Bytes uses her favorite flavors of hot chocolate bombs to create adult homemade cafe mochas. She also makes a Mexican cocoa bomb that's sugar and spice (and everything nice). Salted caramel lattes may be all the rage at Starbucks, but in hot chocolate form, they are positively divine and maybe just a bit sinful. Savory meets sweet in this homemade salted caramel hot chocolate bomb on Eating Well that pairs the flavors of rich caramel with a crunchy sea salt. 

You can find hot chocolate bombs all over Etsy

Okay. You checked Walmart and Costco to no avail. You even almost clicked "purchase" on that pricey little guy from Neiman Marcus. Since you typically like to leave the cooking up to the actual professionals, just head to Etsy. Since being founded in 2005, Etsy is the ultimate destination for independent business owners to set up shop (virtually) and offer their handmade items. We'll all seen the copious amount of Facebook photos of families decked out in matching t-shirts, but Etsy isn't limited to just clothing, home decor, and jewelry.

Hot chocolate bombs have quite literally exploded on the e-commerce site. Right now, there are over 60,000 results when you search the term "hot chocolate bombs," including individual bombs as well as holiday wrapped gift sets. You can support small biz this holiday season while indulging in a candy cane bomb or this merrily wrapped ready-to-gift bomb. Harry Potter and muggles alike will love this bomb that's topped with a chocolate Sorting Hat. Sellers offer plenty of images and reviews, as well as customizable options, so you know exactly what you're getting into from the comfort of your couch. 

There's an adorable Baby Yoda Bomb

In the past year, there has been one character that has captured our hearts while taking the pop culture world by storm. That's Baby Yoda, also know as the Child. The adorable Baby Yoda was introduced in the Star Wars Disney+ original television series, The Mandalorian, and has since manifested before our eyes into endless merchandise, including cuddly plushes, pop sockets, coffee mugs, t-shirts, and more. Do, or do not, but we can't help jumping on board with this trend. How could we forget the Baby Yoda Cocktail? You don't have to be a fan of the series to love this little guy.

The Baby Yoda trend continues on in the form of hot chocolate bombs! Galerie Candy came up with this genius idea and we're frankly sad we didn't think up this one ourselves. With the element of surprise, a seemingly plain chocolate bomb bounces and dissolves into a warm mug of milk to reveal a Baby Yoda marshmallow. The cuteness is strong with this one — it's both satisfying to watch transform before your eyes and even more delicious to eat. 

Hot chocolate bombs are actually quite easy to make

So, you can't get your hands on Trader Joe's adorable snowman, and you just don't feel the need to renew your Costco membership. What's a person (with a sweet tooth) to do? You could settle for store-bought peppermint bark and a box of last year's candy canes that went unopened. Well, these bombs that have taken the internet by storm are actually possible to make from the confines of your own kitchen. They also happen to be pretty easy and an activity the entire family can get involved in. 

According to People, all it takes is common ingredients found at the grocery store, a silicone sphere mold, and the ability to follow a simple set of directions. Count us in! Cake artist, Sheri Wilson, even offers a step by step tutorial on her Instagram page. It is totally foolproof. You can skip the store.