Photo, Erik Putz.
Popping candy — that novelty childhood sweet — is making a mature comeback on dessert menus across the country, bringing its celebratory tendencies to doughnuts, macarons, cookies and chocolates. The secret to its pop is pure science. It’s made by cooling down molten sugar in the presence of pressurized carbon dioxide, which traps the gas inside the sugar. Eating the candy releases the CO2 with a satisfying crackle. Fun fact: Popping candy won’t melt when it comes in contact with fats and oils, which makes it ideal for adding to such dreamy desserts as this luscious crème brûlée.
6 egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 cups 35% cream
1 tsp vanilla
3 tsp granulated sugar
1/4 cup popping candy
POSITION rack in centre of oven, then preheat to 300F. Arrange 6 1/2-cup ramekins in a baking dish large enough to hold all of them. Boil a kettle of water.
WHISK egg yolks with 1/2 cup sugar in a large bowl until sugar dissolves and mixture is pale and smooth; set aside. Place a damp tea towel under the bowl to keep it steady on the counter.
HEAT cream in a medium pan set over medium until it starts to boil, about 5 min.
SLOWLY add hot cream to egg mixture, a little at a time, whisking continuously until combined, about 2 min. Whisk in vanilla. Divide mixture among ramekins. Pour enough boiled water down the side of the baking dish until it comes halfway up the ramekins.
BAKE until custard is just set and centres are jiggly, 50 min to 1 hr. Transfer ramekins to a rack and let cool slightly, 10 min. Refrigerate, uncovered, until chilled, at least 2 hours.
SPRINKLE the top of each ramekin with 3 tsp sugar. Caramelize the sugar with the blowtorch by keeping the flame close to the sugar, using a sweeping motion. Melt sugar to a dark amber colour, then let stand until sugar firms up. Sprinkle with popping candy.
Calories 473, Protein 5g, Carbohydrates 26g, Fat 40g, Sodium 43mg.