Of all the things you can order online right now to make you feel better, none is quite so satisfying as hot chocolate bombs. Imagine a Kinder Surprise Egg that went off to college and got into crafting: Marshmallows and cocoa powder are stuffed into a chocolate shell that bursts as it meets hot milk, exposing a decadent center and swirling into a perfect single-serving cup of hot chocolate. They sit somewhere on the continuum between bonbon, bath bomb, and science experiment.
Other TikTok quarantine food trends—Dalgona coffee, pancake cereal, White Claw slushies—were mere warm-up acts for the hot chocolate bomb. Looking like edible Christmas ornaments and promising an all-ages party in a cup, they dominated December and are poised to make a comeback in time for Valentine’s Day.
There’s just one problem—hot chocolate bombs, like free time during daylight hours and roller skates, have become a scarce resource during the pandemic. While major retailers like Costco, Trader Joe’s, and Target sold them during the Christmas season, they’re now rarely on shelves. And yet Valentine’s Day approaches, with its relentless demand for chocolate and novelty. Amazon, probably reacting to high demand and low supply, has priced a single chocolate bomb at over $12. Hot chocolate bombs have become—like free time and roller skates—something of a status symbol.
Fine, I thought. I will make hot chocolate bombs myself. I have been making hot chocolate and following TikTok recipes throughout the pandemic. I have piped cookies and put loaf pans through their paces. I have put pumpkin where pumpkin should not be. Any food that can be prepared in a one-minute TikTok video, I thought, I can make.
Wrong. There is nothing like the sight of a professional baker soldering razor-thin chocolate domes with a blowtorch to make you say, “How much are these on Etsy?” It is soothing to watch the painstaking construction of hot chocolate bombs on TikTok, but I will not be brushing chocolate into molds and then setting them with gold flakes on this side of retirement.
The vendors of Etsy—mostly enterprising women—have got us covered. The itty-bitty Lucky Charms hot cocoa bombs! The pink heart-shaped bombs that make red-velvet hot cocoa. The salted caramel, the cookies and cream, the unapologetically extreme unicorn bomb! I also scouted cocoa bombs in smaller local bakeries and chocolate boutiques—plump Fabergé eggs, lacquered in candy hearts and edible glitter.
I ordered hot cocoa bombs from three different places to test them out—one from Amazon, one from an Etsy shop that was local to me, and one from the most affordable Etsy shop I could find.
The pack of five hot chocolate bombs from Amazon looked like little golden snitches, straining to get out of their case. (Eschewing the $12 Amazon chocolate bomb, I got a pack of five chocolate bombs for $20, shedding a single gorgeous tear over the $8.99 shipping, not eligible for Prime.)
Initially, I thought the chocolate bomb from my local Etsy chocolatier, Tresor Valeur, was steep at $8. But then I saw that it was the size of a baseball and came in a tiny canvas tote with a handwritten instruction tag, with a separate cloche for a puddle of mini heart-shaped marshmallows, homemade and the texture of down. I envisioned giving them away as party favors at my very well-curated fantasy Christmas wedding (I am Jewish, I am single, let me have this).
Finally, I ordered a giant pile of mini hot chocolate bombs from the shop Bombalamabombs—milk chocolate, white chocolate, peppermint, and Lucky Charms—because they were cute and relatively inexpensive and it’s been almost a whole year in a pandemic and I wanted to see Lucky Charms burst out of a ball of chocolate.
I heated milk on the stove and poured it over each chocolate orb—the milk has to be very hot. The casing slowly eroded, the bomb bobbed in the hot milk and then sank, marshmallows careening to the surface like loose cargo after a shipwreck. I stirred it and documented, beadily eyed my Instagram Story reacts. The desired praise flowed in—the chocolate bomb was a thing of glory! It was a tiny cauldron of hot fudge! An aesthetic food ballet in a mug! My fans were cheering and my enemies weeping! I was a mad scientist mixed with Juliette Binoche in the hit 2000 film Chocolat!
The verdict: The hot chocolate from the Etsy shops tasted fantastic. The hot chocolate from Amazon tasted like slightly aged Swiss Miss. Sipping chocolate merely moments after watching it be ripped apart by a hot torrent of liquid was pleasing. Getting packages of chocolate in the mail was ecstasy.
It’s almost Valentine’s Day—get ’em while you can.
Jenny Singer is a staff writer for Glamour. You can follow her on Twitter.