My son is a big fan of Heston Blumenthal, the more ridiculous and wacky the better, and he's persuaded me to watch Heston's latest series on Channel Four 'How to Cook Like Heston'. I resisted at first: Heston's kitchen pyrotechnics are the food equivalent of Chinese Rock Star pianist Lang Lang, who irritates the sh*t out of me, but I'm warming to the bald guy with Joe Ninety glasses.
A recent episode focused on chocolate, and my ears pricked up when Heston mentioned popping candy, which was called Space Dust in the 1970s. I remember when it first arrived in the local sweet shop in Sutton Coldfield: kids, ten pence pieces clutched in their sweaty palms, queued around the block to get the novelty confectionary which exploded on your tongue. I never really liked it, but it amused me when my son discovered it a few years ago.
The "explosive" element of this chocolate tart is in the biscuit base, which contains, yes, you've guessed it - popping candy. My version was perhaps less explosive than it should have been because my son, who was making the biscuit base, turned on the Magimix after he'd added the popping candy, and "killed" the bubbles, so to speak. However, the end result was quite fun. I'm no fan of gimmicky food, but the rich chocolate topping, its sweetness tempered with passion fruit puree (sounds odd? but it works) won me over. It is also an easy pudding to make and would definitely break the ice at parties!
After we'd made the cake and eaten it, my son wanted to put popping candy into every cake and cookie we made, but, as I pointed out to him, over-use would lead to boredom. Let's keep the popping candy for special occasions only, shall we?
Here is a link to the recipe, plus lots more from Heston's tv show.