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Cookie Dough Fudge Mint Chip 1.0

April 10, 2010
It’s getting hot around here this time of year, and I’ve started an ice cream project to combat the heat. I’m on a quest for the best variation of Cookie Dough Fudge Mint Chip. Why this combination of all the infinite possibilities? If you don’t know, I’m not going to tell you. You’ll just laugh at me.

Any way, there can be a number of interpretations to this, and this week I’m making a mint flavored ice cream, with bits of fudge, cookie dough and dark chocolate swirled in it.

 

The cookie dough recipe came from The Cupcake Project and the fudge recipe from The Accidental Scientist. I highly recommend both sites for their scientific value, as well as their culinary value. The first takes a very scientific approach to cupcakes, and the second just uses cooking as an excuse to explain science in a fun way. I like The Accidental Scientist, but it only scratches the surface of cooking science. If I were to explain the science of every single ingredient that went into this particular recipe, I wouldn’t have time for anything else this week. Instead, I’m going to spread it out over the next few weeks, and share only one sugary-goodness of information at a time.

This time it’s going to be:

Oh, Fudge!

Yep, I totally fudged this one. I tried, and then I tried to fix it, and when it was looking better, I did another mistake and it was too late to fix it again. Oh well, I’ll know better next time. On the up side, the failed fudge still works in my ice cream, AND! And this is an Important AND! I now know how Reese’s get that crumbly texture for their peanut butter in the peanut butter cups. It’s over-cooked peanut butter fudge! I’ve been trying to figure that out for years. Now if I can only get some caramel crystals in there, I could make their Crispy crunchy bar. Successes is nigh!

OK, let’s get on with the science:

The ingredients first call for chocolate, which is an emulsion of sugar (water soluble) and cocoa butter. As we all know, water and oil don’t normally mix, so different methods are employed to force the sugar to blend with the butter in a nice, smooth texture. There is constant stirring, to prevent large sugar crystals from forming, and there are emulsifiers, such as soy lecithin, that are added to the mix.

There is also half-and-half, or cream in this old fashioned fudge. Mile and all its fatty variants are emulsions. I suspect that the cream in this recipe is supposed to help the chocolate and the sugar blend together better. Using a pre-existing emulsion to emulsify other things. More on emulsions and emulsifiers in the next ice cream post.

Next on the list, we have sugar. White table sugar contains sucrose, a disaccharide that combines glucose and fructose in one molecule. Corn syrup also contains glucose and fructose, but not in the same molecule. In the past, it was thought that corn syrup was more detriment to one’s health than regular sugar. The theory was that because the sugar in corn syrup was already broken down to its components, it would get to the blood stream faster, and cause a large spike in the blood sugar level. According to recent studies, there is no difference between the uptake of corn syrup and the uptake of regular sugar, so they are both just as damaging. Another myth was that corn syrup was sweeter than regular sugar, because it was already broken down to the basic components. Wrong again. They are both just as sweet.

But if there’s no difference, why do we use corn syrup in candy-making? Two reasons: 1. It’s cheaper to produce, which makes candy companies happy. 2. Glucose and fructose behave differently than sucrose when melting, when forming crystals, or when mixed with fats. The molecules are different, so they have a different chemical behavior.

From The Accidental Scientist: “Corn syrup acts as an “interfering agent” in this and many other candy recipes. It contains long chains of glucose molecules that tend to keep the sucrose molecules in the candy syrup from crystallizing. “

What else do we have there? There is salt and vanilla for flavoring, and a bit of butter for a smoother texture.

For instructions and their explanations, go to The Accidental Scientist. Their explanations are excelent!

So what did I do wrong? Everything.

I’ve made English toffee and caramels before, without much trouble, but the fudge was much more sensitive. Perhaps it’s because of the chocolate (more fat in the recipe?) or because it uses much less corn syrup (more difficult to control the crystals).

The first problem is I’m too proud (and too cheap) to buy a candy thermometer. I have to guess at the temperatures according to the behavior of the syrup in water or on a cool surface. I’m getting better at this every time, so there’s hope.

This time I probably over cooked the fudge, and the water content was too low. Second thing was that I didn’t wait for it to cool properly before I started to beat it. It was beautiful to see how fast the crystals formed and the oozing mass suddenly solidified, the way super-cooled water turns to ice when disturbed. It still tasted good, but the texture was grainy and brittle, just like the Reese’s peanut butter cups filling (mini Eureka moment!).

To fix this, I broke the failed fudge into small pieces, added some water to the saucepan, and reheated the whole thing to a boil, while stirring. I stopped stirring when all the pieces melted, and let it boil for another 5min or so, when I estimated that it reached the soft ball stage again. This time I let it cool properly, for over an hour, till it reached body temperature (again, no thermometer). I started beating it, and continued till the fudge looked right. Since I never saw how fudge is made, that may not have been what fudge is supposed to look like, and I was a little worried that I under cooked it this time. It was still looking good and fluid after 30min of rest in the pan, so I put it in the fridge over night, in the hope that it would solidify. Bad idea. It cooled too fast and in the morning in was gritty and brittle again.

This is exactly what happens with regular chocolate as well. When the weather is hot and chocolate starts to melt, some people put it in the fridge, only to discover that it turned gray and flaky the next day. The gray spots are called ‘blossom’. The fats in the chocolate melted, which allowed the sugar crystals to move and grow. The rapid cooling locked the crystals in their new formation, which is less mouth-watering for the consumer. The chocolate itself is perfectly fine and safe to eat, it just doesn’t look as great as before. This can be fixed by melting down the chocolate and letting it cool slowly, a process known as ‘tempering’.

 

I could have fixed my fudge a second time, but it was getting late. I had promised my friends I would bring them my first ice cream experiment today, so I had to work with what I had.

I think it turned out pretty good. I actually like that the failed fudge is soft and melts in my mouth easily, as apposed to the chocolate bits, which are too hard and take too long to melt, so they feel like tasteless plastic lumps. I’m not a big fan chocolate chips in my ice cream, but the friends I’m visiting today are, so I’ll see what they thing of my creation.

Recipe, pictures and critique, when I come back.

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