Pop Rocks belong to a small category of foods whose texture I prefer to their flavor. I have a soul—Pop Rocks are fun, but the candy’s sour, acidic, saccharine aftertaste always deters me from purchasing it. So when one of my friends proposed incorporating pastry rocks—a flavorless take on the Pop Rock, also known as unflavored carbonated crystals—as an add-on to a fine-dining dinner party we were producing, I was immediately game. The flavorless rocks looked as bland as they sounded: like worn, opaque beach pebbles. But sprinkled on an oyster at the last second before plating, or placed on the tongue just before taking a sip of a foamy, lemony gin fizz, the pastry rocks playfully elevated the sensory experience of each bite or slurp they accompanied. These pastry rocks from Modernist Pantry can be flavored with or added as-is to dishes for a zippy, novel garnish. Since that night, I have had visions of pastry rock-studded chocolate covered strawberries, tongue-tingling “rock-salted” rims, to set me free from the texture versus flavor conundrum of my Pop Rocks past.
Carbonated Crystals (unflavored), $6.99 for 50 g at ModernistPantry.com