Exploding Cupcakes

Course: Dessert
Dessert Type: Cupcakes
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 22 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 22 minutes
Servings: 24
Calories: 421kcal
Author: Elizabeth LaBau
These exploding cupcakes are a real blast! Do you see what I did there? ;) They are filled with Pop Rocks candy so they literally explode in your mouth when you bite into them. 
Print Recipe


For the Cupcakes:

  • 10 2/3 oz all-purpose flour 2 1/2 cups
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 8 oz unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 14 oz granulated sugar 2 cups
  • 4 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 8 oz plain greek yogurt 1 cup full-fat (low-fat can be substituted, do not use non-fat)
  • 14 packets Pop Rocks candy .33 oz each
  • 1/4-1/3 cups coconut oil

For the Buttercream:

  • 9 egg whites
  • 14 oz granulated sugar 2 cups
  • 1 lb butter soft but still cool
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Red and blue gel food coloring optional


To Make the Cupcakes:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line cupcake pans with 24 liners.
  • Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside for now.
  • Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of a large stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, then add the vanilla extract. With the mixer running on low, add third of the flour mixture, then when the flour streaks have disappeared, add half of the yogurt. Add half of the remaining flour, the rest of the yogurt, then finish with the last of the flour. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula to fully mix the batter.
  • Fill the cupcake tins until they're half to two-thirds full, then bake at 350 for 20-22 minutes, until they just start to turn golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the cupcakes completely before filling and frosting.

To Make the Buttercream:

  • Combine the egg whites and the granulated sugar in the bowl of a large stand mixer, and whisk them together. Choose a small saucepan that lets you fit the base of the stand mixer snugly into the top of the saucepan—this is your makeshift hot water bath. (Alternately, you can use a different bowl or an actual bain marie and then transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl once it’s heated.) Add an inch of water to the bottom of the saucepan, and bring the water to a simmer.
  • Place the mixing bowl on top of the saucepan, making sure that the bottom isn’t in contact with the water, and heat the egg white mixture. Whisk frequently so that the egg whites don’t cook. Continue to heat the whites until they are hot to the touch, and when you rub a bit between your fingers, you don’t feel any grittiness from the sugar. Once the whites are hot, transfer the mixing bowl to your mixer and fit it with a whisk attachment.
  • Beat the whites on medium-high speed until they are no longer warm to the touch—feel the outside of the bowl, and make sure that it is around room temperature. Depending on your mixer and the temperature of your environment, this may take 15-20 minutes, or more. Reduce the speed to medium-low and add the softened but cool butter in small chunks, a tablespoon at a time, making sure to wait in between additions. It may separate or look a little gloopy at this point—fear not. Once all of the butter is added, increase the speed again and whip until it comes together and is light and fluffy. If, after 5 minutes, it hasn’t come together, refrigerate the mixing bowl for 5-7 minutes, to cool the mixture down, and whip it again. Add the vanilla extract and salt.
  • The buttercream can be made in advance and kept at room temperature if you’re going to use it the same day, or refrigerated. If it has been chilled, let it sit at room temperature until completely soft, then re-whip it to get the smooth texture back before you use it.

To Assemble:

  • Combine the Pop Rocks and 1/4 cup melted coconut oil in a bowl, and stir until the candy is evenly coated with a thin layer of oil. If it seems like the candy is a little dry, add a bit more oil, a little at a time, until well-covered. Scrape the Pop Rocks onto a baking sheet covered with waxed paper, and spread it out into a single layer. Refrigerate to solidify the oil, about 10 minutes.
  • Use a sharp paring knife to cut a cone-shaped hole out of the top of the cupcakes. Scoop the Pop Rocks off of the baking sheet, separating any large clumps with your fingers. Scoop a spoonful of Pop Rocks into the center of each cupcake, coming almost all the way to the top. Cut the bottom off of the cupcake cone, and replace the top of the cupcake on top of the candy.
  • If you want to make multi-colored swirls like the ones picture, scoop a cup of frosting into two different bowls. Add a teaspoon of red gel coloring to one bowl, and a teaspoon of blue gel coloring to the other bowl, and mix well.
  • Fit a piping bag with a large star tip. Scoop the red and blue frosting into two separate plastic bags, and snip off a corner of each bag. Holding the piping bag in one hand, pipe two red stripes of frosting up the inside of the bag, then pipe two blue stripes up the inside of the bag. Fill the bag with white frosting—when you squeeze it, the colors will blend together and you'll get nice multi-colored stripes! Pipe a generous swirl of frosting on top of each cupcake.
  • Exploding Cupcakes are best enjoyed soon after they are assembled, but I have found that the Pop Rocks stay "poppy" for about 8 hours after assembly.


I've provided my favorite vanilla cupcake and Swiss meringue buttercream recipe below, but you can substitute your own recipe (or a box mix!) if you’d like. The only really important part is that you add the Pop Rocks! If you want to decorate your cupcakes with big swirls of frosting, like those pictured, I do recommend making homemade frosting—canned frosting just won't have the same effect.


Calories: 421kcal | Carbohydrates: 43g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 26g | Saturated Fat: 16g | Cholesterol: 88mg | Sodium: 268mg | Potassium: 83mg | Sugar: 33g | Vitamin A: 750IU | Calcium: 33mg | Iron: 0.8mg