Artistic Chocolate Bloom

Chocolate bloom added some artistic shading to this Le Petit Ecolier cookie!

Sugar and Memory

Researchers at UCLA found that As summarized in The Week, "Sugary foods may be as bad for your memory as they are for your waistline."* Apparently researchers at UCLA found that rats who had learned a route through a maze were less able to navigate the same maze after eating a diet high in high-fructose corn syrup. Apparently the high levels of HFCS "had disrupted synapse communications in the hippocampus, a brain region devoted to learning and memory." (A UCLA article clarifies that cane sugar is also a source of fructose in the diet.)

So think twice about all those holiday sweets! (Or take the easy way out and enjoy the treats until you forget why they might be bad for you.)

*June 15, 2012

Candy Experiments for the Holidays

Whether you need a way to keep kids entertained during the holidays, or a way to use up all those extra candy canes, here are some some of my best Christmas classics from

Chocolate for Christmas?

Favorite experimental chocolates from the Northwest Chocolate Festival--maybe you'll get some Christmas ideas.

Pop Rocks create the explosions in these "Exploding Chocolate Frogs." If you can't make it to Chocolate Affairs to buy some, online recipes teach you to make your own by stirring Pop Rocks into melted chocolate or molding candy, and pouring it into a frog mold.

Here's a treat for somebody who needs an extra reason to eat their vegetables. Amore Earth is experimenting with vegetable-filled chocolate truffles. Of those I tasted, the broccoli truffle was OK, but I wouldn't recommend the beet (you'd think beet would be good, considering beets can be used in sugar production). Personally, I think I'll enjoy my vegetables and my chocolate separately, but I applaud the experiment.
Carter's Chocolates, the creators of this chocolate, truffle professed no political preferences. Some people apparently bought these to honor President Obama, and some people delighted in biting his head off. While I don't see these currently listed on the website, you could also try new ideas like chocolate-dipped bacon.

Cacao Yogi infuses their chocolate with gold to aid in meditation. Although the purpose was carefully explained to me, I don't know that I can do it justice, so I've included their own explanation.

And finally, a chocolate dipping machine, handmade by the Chocolate Dude, that tempers the chocolate and heats it as you dip treats to your heart's content. It only costs $525!

Cookie Candy Experiments

It's holiday time, and therefore cookie time. But what happens when you put the wrong candy in the cookie?

We were trying for chocolate cookies, using M&M's. Since Skittles look so much alike, I accidentally added some of those. Here's what we got:
As the Skittles baked, they got chewier and harder, probably because so much of the water from the soft fillings evaporated. The ones on the bottom melted into chewy puddles on the pan. I don't know if I'd recommend them as a cookie filler, but they were sure fun to play with!

And does anybody remember the transit of Venus last May, when the planet Venus crossed in front of the sun, forming a tiny black dot?
Here's my "Transit of Venus" cookie.