Pocky is one Japanese sweet that pretty much everyone knows about. It’s widely available in convenience stores, super markets, and the like all over the world, and comes in an assortment of decadent flavours, from classic chocolate to the more exotic green tea.
Essentially a thin, stick-like biscuit covered in a layer of chocolate, pocky is crunchy, a bit sweet, and borderline addictive to eat. It also has a chocolate-free section on one end that serves as a very convenient handhold that will keep your fingers nice and clean!
From Ga-Rei: Zero, Kampfer, and Lucky★Star, to Kill la Kill, Witch Craft Works, Tari Tari, and Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha (and countless other anime!), pocky is a constant presence in anime. And, it’s not just eaten while chilling at a friend’s house! In both Ga-Rei: Zero and Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica, there are even characters that regularly snack on pocky while fighting monsters and other threats… proving that there’s always time for pocky!
It can be seen adorning desserts such as parfaits and crepes, eaten casually as snacks, or shared among friends. Perhaps the most visible (and exciting!) use for pocky is in the popular “pocky game”, where two people will nibble on the two ends of a pocky stick until either the stick breaks or the participants kiss!
About the recipe:
I don’t know what possessed me in the first place to try and make homemade pocky, but it might have been the fact that I bought a package of the stuff, ate it, and suddenly just wanted more… I can’t say this was the easiest recipe ever, if only because it was a bit time consuming… but it was a fun, delicious project, and I got to customize each pocky stick with flavours ranging from green tea and lemon, to chocolate/almonds and chocolate/coconut. Yum!
Let’s get this out of the way right at the get go: it won’t be possible to make the pocky sticks as thin as the store-bought versions, mostly because the resulting biscuits will be too fragile to handle. Instead, the size of the homemade version will be more like a “large format” pocky, about 7 inches long, and between 1/4 and 1/2 inch thick.
Rolling out the sticks can be finicky and hard to do by hand. But, luckily there’s an easy way to make an evenly proportioned pocky stick… the secret is to use a flat board (like an empty clipboard, one of those flexible cutting boards, or even a stiff laminated piece of paper – nothing too heavy or you could crush rather than roll the dough) to roll out the dough!
Just shape your piece of dough into a ball, and then into a small log. Then, put it on your work surface horizontally, and run the board back and forth over the log to roll it into an evenly proportioned stick. Check your progress every so often, and when it reaches the right size, gently transfer it to your prepared baking sheet. Straighten it out a bit if needed, and you’re done!
To coat the sticks in delicious melted chocolate, I recommend spooning the melted chocolate over the stick and then holding it vertically to let any excess chocolate drip off the end. Tapping the stick gently against the rim of your chocolate bowl can also help encourage the excess chocolate to drip off.
After coating the sticks with chocolate, you can either place them on a piece of parchment paper to dry or, if you want the pocky to be smooth on all sides, create a stand by poking holes in a cardboard box about 1.5 – 2 inches apart. Just make sure that your chocolate has set enough before placing it in the stand, or the chocolate could drip off.
About the ingredients:
Sweetened condensed milk is cow’s milk that has had it’s water removed. It is thick, syrupy, and generally comes in a can or a tube. It’s generally often used as an ingredient in desserts, and can be found in your typical grocery store (usually in the baking aisle).
Chocolate is what will be used to coat the pocky sticks. It’s your choice as to what kind of chocolate you would like to use and any type is acceptable, whether you like white, milk, or dark chocolate. My preference is bittersweet chocolate (I generally use Ghirardelli’s 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate baking bar) since I love how dark and rich it tastes without being overly sweet.
White chocolate can be pretty thick when melted, but adding heavy cream and butter can help thin it out. Keep in mind that pocky sticks dipped in chocolate with added liquids should be eaten quickly, as the added moisture can make the crunchy sticks soggy faster. Eat within 3 days or so.
Now, chocolate can be finicky to work with, so here are some quick tips:
Be careful not to scorch chocolate by heating it too much. If using a microwave to melt chocolate, work only in 20 – 30 second bursts (or even less as it melts).
Water can cause chocolate to “seize”, making smooth chocolate grainy, clumpy, and thick. Eliminate the chance water might come into contact with the chocolate by drying your utensils and bowl well, and not using wooden utensils.
Makes about 40 pocky
- 2 tbsp water
- 1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 egg white
- 8 oz chocolate, roughly chopped
Making the pocky sticks:
1. Mix sweetened condensed milk and water together until thoroughly combined.
In a large bowl, stir together the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, sugar, salt) until evenly distributed. Add butter and beat together until combined. Slowly add the condensed milk mixture, and continue mixing until the dough comes together smoothly.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, and form into a flattened rectangle. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.
2. Pre-heat the oven to 300 F. and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Remove the dough from the fridge and divide evenly into quarters (4) pieces. Working one quarter at a time, cut each quarter into 10 pieces. Rewrap and refrigerate the remaining quarters of dough until ready to use, to prevent the dough from getting too soft or drying out.
To form a pocky stick, roll a piece of dough into a ball. Using your palms, roll the ball into a short log. Place the log horizontally on the work surface. Use a flat board to carefully roll the log into a stick measuring approximately 7 inches long and 1/4 inch thick. Gently place the stick on the prepared baking sheet and straighten if necessary. Space the sticks about 1/2 inch apart.
Refrigerate for 10 minutes before gently brushing the tops of the sticks with the egg white. Bake until golden brown, about 15 – 20 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack before dipping in chocolate.
Coating the sticks with chocolate:
1. Place chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Microwave on medium high for about 30 seconds at a time (as the chocolate melts, use shorter sessions), stirring in between sessions, until the chocolate is smooth and has melted completely.
2. Use a spoon to pour the melted chocolate over the pocky stick, evenly coating the stick. Leave about an inch of the stick free of chocolate to provide a clean handhold. Hold the pocky stick vertically and let the excess chocolate drip off the end. Gently tapping the end of the stick against the side of the bowl will help encourage the chocolate to drip down. If the chocolate in the bowl becomes too thick, warm in the microwave in short bursts between dippings.
3. Place the chocolate covered pocky stick on a tray lined with parchment paper or upright in a pocky stand. If using a stand, make sure the chocolate has set slightly before standing it upright, to ensure the chocolate does not drip down the stick.
If adding toppings (coconut, almonds, etc.) add after the chocolate has just started to set, about 5 minutes – this will ensure the weight of the toppings does not cause the chocolate to drip down the stick.
Let the chocolate solidify at room temperature (3 – 6 hours, depending on the temperature) or in the refrigerator (1 – 2 hours).
Serve as a snack or use to adorn a special dessert such as a parfait or crepe.
The chocolate covered pocky sticks will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for about 5 days. Chocolate mixed with other liquid ingredients (cream or butter) should be consumed in about 3 days, as the added moisture can make the sticks soggy or stale quicker.
Keep in the refrigerator if the outside temperature is very warm, but be warned that moisture in the refrigerator might cause the pocky to stick together. Parchment paper may help.
Other chocolate suggestions:
Lemon: Melt 4 oz of white chocolate with 1 1/2 tsp unsalted butter and 2 tbsp of heavy cream. Whisk the zest of 1 lemon into the chocolate mixture until smooth. Add a drop of lemon extract for added flavour. Though not initially very lemony, the flavour will deepen considerably once the lemon oils from the zest permeates the chocolate.
Coconut: Sprinkle chocolate coated sticks with toasted, sweetened coconut.
Almond: Sprinkle chocolate coated sticks with small pieces of toasted almonds.
Green tea: Melt 4 oz of white chocolate with 1 1/2 tsp unsalted butter and 2 tbsp of heavy cream. Whisk 2 tsp of sifted matcha into the chocolate mixture until smooth. The strength of the matcha flavour will mellow over time.
Orange: Whisk the zest of 1 orange into 4 oz of melted semisweet chocolate. Though not initially very orangey, the flavour will deepen considerably once the orange oils from the zest permeates the chocolate.
Chili: Add a light dusting of cayenne over the chocolate coated sticks.
Toffee/caramel: Sprinkle chocolate coated sticks with small pieces of a crushed Heath or Skor chocolate bar (almond roca or any hard toffee would work too).
Source: Pocky sticks: Dessert First; Chocolate suggestions: Blue Variance