Designer Sweets: Chocolate Tools

Tools Made with Belgian Chocolate

Hammer

Adjustable Spanner

Pipe Wrench

A Step Toward Avoiding the Dreaded Chocolate ‘Bloom’

Microscope view of fat bloom on chocolate

Chocolate is one of the world’s most popular foods, but when a whitish coating called a bloom appears on the confection’s surface, it can make consumers think twice about eating it. The coating is made up of fats and is edible, but it changes the chocolate’s appearance and texture — and not for the better. Now scientists report in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces new information that could help chocolatiers prevent blooms from forming.

Svenja K. Reinke and colleagues explain that baked goods and confectionery products, including chocolate, contain a mix of components that don’t always stay in place. Fat blooms, for instance, occur when lipids from within a chocolate product wander to the surface. They’ve long been a scourge of chocolatiers, but no one fully understood what caused them. Reinke’s team wanted to find out what factors were contributing to their formation.

The researchers investigated the microscopic structural changes that occur when chocolate blooms. They found that the lipids that are responsible move through pores and cracks in the chocolate. Along the way, they soften and dissolve solid cocoa butter into a liquid form. The researchers say reducing the number of pores and the liquid cocoa butter content of chocolate could help minimize blooms.

Source: American Chemical Society


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Scientists X-ray Chocolate . . . . .

Choosing Sides in War on Sugar

Justin Fox wrote . . . . .

The people at candy-maker Mars Inc. have something to tell you: Stop eating so much sugar! According to the Wall Street Journal, the manufacturer of M&Ms, Snickers and Twix has thrown its weight behind a U.S. Food and Drug Administration push to include measures of added sugar on food labels. Non-candy food manufacturers such as Campbell Soup Co. are opposed to the change, but Mars figures that people already know their candy bars are full of sugar. From the WSJ story:

“It might appear to be counterintuitive, but if you dig down a bit more, we know candy itself is not a diet,” said Dave Crean, global head of research and development at Mars. “It shouldn’t be consumed too often, and having transparency of how much it should be consumed is actually quite helpful to consumers.”

In a comment letter submitted to the government Thursday, Mars also backed recommendations that people should limit their consumption of added sugars to less than 10 percent of daily energy intake and eat lots of whole grains. The letter also mentions that “enriched grains like white rice can provide a meaningful contribution to the diet,” and goes on and on about the benefits of sugar-free gum in fighting cavities. Did I mention that Mars also makes Uncle Ben’s rice? And Orbit sugar-free gum?

The stands food manufacturers take in the coming Sugar Wars will be determined by what they make. For makers of sugar-filled treats, the rational response seems to be, “It’s candy, people. Eat too much and you’ll get sick.” Soft-drink companies have been toying with a similar approach, although they can’t embrace it as enthusiastically as Mars has because fizzy, sugary (and fake-sugary) beverages risk losing their status as a global dietary staple. Food manufacturers that sneak sugar into soups, crackers, salad dressings and deli meat are fighting the added-sugar labeling, but will surely find ways to adjust to changing dietary recommendations. The group most adamantly opposed to added-sugar labeling is probably cranberry-juice makers, because cranberries taste terrible without lots of added sugar. Most other juice makers don’t care so much about the added-sugar labeling, but must be at least as worried as the soft-drink makers about the new targeting of dietary sugar.

This new targeting took its clearest form in the recommendations that the U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee issued in February. In them, the committee finally abandoned long-held strictures on the consumption of fat and cholesterol and targeted overconsumption of added sugars and refined grains as major health hazards. This shift has been a long time in coming — I remember science writer Gary Taubes announcing its inevitability in a New York Times Magazine article 13 years ago. It is also, of course, ironic, in that past dietary recommendations helped drive the very public-health debacle that the new ones aim to fix. Here’s Taubes, writing in 2002:

[P]ublic health authorities told us unwittingly, but with the best of intentions, to eat precisely those foods that would make us fat, and we did. We ate more fat-free carbohydrates, which, in turn, made us hungrier and then heavier. … [A] low-fat diet is not by definition a healthy diet. In practice, such a diet cannot help being high in carbohydrates, and that can lead to obesity, and perhaps even heart disease.

One possible takeaway here is that the government should just stop trying to tell us what to eat. It was wrong the last time, so who’s not to say it’s wrong again — and even if it’s right can’t we just figure out for ourselves what to consume? Still, as a major underwriter of food purchases (through school lunch and food stamp programs, not to mention agricultural subsidies) and medical expenses, the federal government kind of has to have some sort of stance on what’s good to eat and what’s not. Also, I’m pretty sure the new anti-sugar view is correct, so aren’t public-health authorities morally obligated to expunge their earlier errors by pushing the new recommendations?

Ah, but how? The added-sugar labeling seems a bit superfluous, in that nutrition labels in the U.S. already give the sugar content of a serving of food. The dietary guidelines committee proposed a tax on high-sugar drinks and snacks, which is a nicely Pigovian approach but is full of complications and surely won’t happen anytime soon beyond the very local level.

Just the discussion of the dangers of sugar is already affecting behavior, with consumption of sugary soft drinks on the decline since the late 1990s. Still, I can’t resist suggesting another idea, born of my love for breakfast, my low tolerance for sugar in the morning and my paternalistic tendencies. Something like 99.7 percent of the breakfast cereals available in the U.S. contain significant added sugar, which always drives me a little crazy when I visit a supermarket or raid someone’s pantry as a house guest. The worst are the cereals that trumpet their natural, organic, gluten-free, earth-friendly bona fides yet are almost a third sugar (I’m looking at you, Gorilla Munch). I’d love to slap a big label on the front of those: “This is candy, people. Eat too much and you’ll get sick.” Yes, that’s excessively paternalistic. But it might work.

Source: Bloomberg

Italian-American Dessert that Needs No Cooking

Ingredients

2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 large egg whites
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup toasted almonds, very finely chopped

Method

  1. In a large bowl, whip the cream with the confectioners’ sugar and the extracts until soft peaks form.
  2. In a medium bowl, with clean beaters, beat the egg whites together with the salt on low speed until foamy. Gradually increase the speed and beat until soft peaks form. With a rubber spatula, gently fold the beaten whites into the whipped cream.
  3. Spoon the mixture into 8 wine goblet or ramekins (custard cups or, if you can find them authentic fluted paper cups). Sprinkle with toasted almonds. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for at least 4 hours, or overnight.
  4. Remove the tortoni from the refrigerator 15 minutes before serving.

Makes 8 (4-ounce) Servings

Source: New York City Food


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