Stupid Chocolate Tricks I: “Balloon” Cups

Here are a few things that don’t go together: impossibly delicate chocolate molds, outdoor photography and July. Fortunately I made a lot of cups and garnishes. Edible “balloon” cups are nothing new, but still a great way to wow guests at a dinner party. You can make them ahead and store them in the fridge until you’re ready to fill and present them.

Start with the balloons. I like’em small because big balloons make big cups that you have to fill with lots of dessert or ice cream. Little ones are a bit more challenging but work a lot better, especially if they’re filled with rich peanut butter mousse, as these are. Mrs. Pastry calls this dessert “peanut butter cup of the gods”, and it’s hard to disagree.

These little balloons — made for water balloons — can be had in most toy stores.

I only blow them up a little bit.

Dip them in meted chocolate, ideally tempered dark chocolate which will make firmer cups with a nicer “snap” when you bit into them.

Get a nice coat on there, wait a few seconds…

…and dip a second time.

Place them on a parchment-lined sheet. They’ll make their own little “feet.”

Allow them to cool completely, especially if the chocolate is tempered, about an hour. When they’re firm, freeze them for about twenty minutes before handling them.

Remove the balloon by clipping the very ends with scissors. This keeps them from popping and damaging the cups.

The balloons will stick to the interiors of the cups, probably. It can be a little difficult extracting some of them, since the thin, thin cup walls start melting as soon as you touch them. If you have difficult balloons, grasp the cup by the “foot” with the fingers of one hand and peel the ballon out with the the fingers of the other — but just for second or two. If the cup is starting melt and you haven’t fully extracted the balloon, put the cup back in the freezer for a minute or so and have another go.

When you’ve extracted all your balloons you can store the cups in the fridge or on the counter, provided it’s not hot in your kitchen. Fill them at your leisure. I spooned in some peanut butter mousse, then piped a curlicue of mousse on the top. I could have piped it all in but I dunno, I wasn’t thinking clearly.

For the garnish, I used a fork to drizzle some free-form shapes on a parchment sheet at the same time I made the cups. I likewise let them firm, then froze them. I peeled them off when the cups were filled and I was ready to serve, like so:

Easy as pie.

17 thoughts on “Stupid Chocolate Tricks I: “Balloon” Cups”

  1. I usually like to rub the balloons with a little bit of crisco/shortening before dipping them–helps solve the sticking problem a bit. I would caution folks about the type of balloon they use, though–I ran out of my usual and bought a budget brand of balloons, which exploded upon being dipped in the warm chocolate. Not a fun cleanup, I assure you!

    1. Nce idea, Mel! I actually had one pop on me, now that you mention it. My shirt is a mess. Another reason to always wear an apron. – Joe

  2. This is super neat! If you freeze and dip over and over would it make thicker cups? Or if you alternated white and brown chocolate would it make a stripy pattern when broken?

    1. Yes you certainly can double-dip. The cups need not be frozen for that. And in fact if you’ve tempered your chocolate you only need to bring it back up to temperature (slowly) to 89 degrees. Use a hot watter bath as in the tempering tutorial under Techniques to the left. Thanks for the note, Tiff!

  3. And the chocolate doesn’t pick up a “rubbery” taste from the balloons? Too scared to try the peanut butter mousse, looks like it could be just the thing to totally ruin my diet!

    1. I haven’t noticed it. But try the mousse one of these days. You’ll love it!

      …which, I understand, might be the problem.

  4. Hi, Joe,
    Must the chocolate be tempered? Can I just melt a quantity of chocolate sufficient to make a few cups?
    I have tried various tutorials online and the different techniques suggested for tempering chocolate. But I have had absolutely no luck. I live in Florida where temperature and humidity are not kind to chocolate. I have tried the balloon cups in the past but only achieved the kind of result which could only be eaten in the dark and behind closed doors. (Not unsatisfying in its own way, but ….)
    This inability to properly tempere chocolate has been one of the great failures of my culinary experimentation (yeasted doughs is another).

    1. You certainly can just melt chocolate if you like. Just use two coats of chocolate and keep the cups well refrigerated. They’ll work just fine. As for the yeast dough, we need to have a conversation about that.

      – Joe

  5. Hi Joe, I have to say that I came across your website by coincidence looking for the difference in Extract or Emulsion? I have read allot of your suggestions and peoples comments and I have learned and enjoyed reading them. I don’t see any blogs from 2013, and 2014. I hope you find yourself in good health. Thank you for all your suggestions I am sure going to keep you handy for all my future baking. God bless you

    1. Hey Jeannette!

      I’m in very good health, thanks, and still posting most days. Just click the grey Joe Pastry logo in the upper left corner on any page you land on and it’ll take you to the most recent page!

      Cheers and thanks for checking in!

      – Joe

  6. Hi Joe!

    Is it safe to use water balloon for cooking? I haven’t tried it before because afraid of some chemical might be stick on the balloon.

    Thanks for great recipes 🙂

    – Cassandra

    1. Hey Cassandra!

      I’m sure it’s no worse than applying your lips to it to blow one up (and there are surely Federal regs out there that anything a consumer inserts into his/her mouth must be food safe to a point). I’m not saying there aren’t any chemicals in there, but I’ve noticed no ill effects so far!


      – joe

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