Cocoa Butter

You might think that since chocolate bloom degrades the quality of a chocolate bar, cocoa butter on chocolate's surface is a bad thing.  Think again.

Cocoa butter covers the surface of many gourmet chocolates.  That's because the decorations are made with cocoa butter.  We learned this at the recent Seattle Chocolate Salon, where vendors handed out samples of their wares to try.  Many also spared a few minutes to answer questions from a curious candy experimenter.

The creators of La Chatelaine chocolate explained to me how the cocoa butter was dyed and applied to decorate their truffles.  Cocoa butter coating doesn't degrade the taste at all--it was a real test of will to save these truffles for photographs before I could eat them.  They taste as good as they look.

Amano Chocolate also had gorgeous truffles.

Apologies to the vendors whose wares I couldn't feature--I couldn't afford a box from everybody!
Maybe next year.

Candy Experiments Award

Great news--my Highlights article, "Candy Secrets," just won a 2011 Distinguished Achievement Award for Excellence in Educational Publishing, proving once again that candy science is a real winner for kids and parents!

The Inventor of Jelly Belly Beans

A great article about David Klein, who claims to have invented the Jelly Belly, and the crazy candy he's working on now.

Chocolate Bloom

Last week I decided to revisit the Chocolate Bloom experiment.  A chocolatier at Oh! Chocolate gave me a tip: if my melted chocolate bars aren't blooming, stir them with a pretzel or something.  Without proper tempering, the stirred chocolate should quickly bloom.

So, last Wednesday, I liquified Hershey bars in the microwave, in the oven, and with a hair dryer, and dipped nearly a pack of pretzel sticks.  At the end of the day there was no bloom anywhere.  I decided to give up and start eating the pretzels.

But the bloom had gotten started, all right.  By Friday, my chocolate bars were getting speckled.  By today, they were spectacular.

These Hershey bars were melted twice in the microwave, then left in the kitchen window for a week.  The bars on the left, which had been stirred, definitely bloomed.  But so did the unstirred bars on the right.  (Top: milk chocolate, bottom: Special Dark.)

This one was my favorite: it looks as if it had turned inside-out.

And what about those pretzels? By today, the uneaten survivors had bloomed too.

The lesson? If you're trying to create chocolate bloom, be patient.  It might take a few days for the process to really work.

Coming Soon: the Candy Experiments book!

It's official: my book Candy Experiments will be published next summer by Andrews McMeel.  With several dozen great candy experiments, including several that have never been published, it'll have lots of fun ways to play with candy and learn science at the same time.

Blog Award just received a Stylish Blogger award from the Homeschool Escapade blog, whose author commented, "Just wanted you to know how much your blog is appreciated (I love all the great ideas)."


Summer Learning at WeTeach

The We Teach group has just published their summer learning ebook, including an activity from me based on Find Hidden Candy. Download the book for fun ways to include math, cooking, science, and many other subjects in your summer activities.  You can also visit the We Teach website to learn more about the group,  a resource for "anyone and everyone who teaches--no matter the classroom!"

we teach summer ebook contributor