Wood Chips And Hot Chocolate Thoughts.
Dec. 5, 2012 9:42 am
Updated: Dec. 6, 2012 8:07 am
First, I just want to whine a bit. I'm not used to hard physical labor. Let me tell you that moving a 12' x 6' x 4' pile of wood chips to various places in the yard is hard work! It's even worse because the chips were from the city, and these bad boys
have a lot of three and four foot long twigs mixed in and they make shoveling impossible. I had to use a garden fork to get them into the wheel barrow! It was good to get the exercise, but I am sore and tired. Poor me.
On the other hand, moving all that mulch gave me time to ponder. That's always a dangerous thing for me, but since I have found AllRecipes I have stopped thinking about things like, "I wonder if I can build a breeder reactor in my pole barn?" For an interesting
read, you can follow this link to a Harper's article that discusses a boy scout who did just that.
Atomic Boy Scout. And folks think
I'm dangerous! I was pondering my investigations into hot chocolate mixes, which tastes great and won't make you glow or your hair fall out.
Some of you may remember that I said that I wanted to try to flavor the sugar with peppermint.
Cat Hill and I were discussing through comments, ways in which I could get peppermint flavor into sugar. She had made some mint sugar by grinding dried mint with sugar, which she then used in baking.
I think we both agreed that having bits of mint leaf in the hot cocoa would be displeasing to the drinker! I settled on trying to impart the mint flavor to the sugar by drying some mint from my garden and then sealing the mint and sugar together for a few
weeks to see what happens. Well, after 3 days I am sad to report that the sugar smells kind of nasty. It's not minty, just vegetal.
Thankfully, my mind seems to function all on its own. I get a lot of, "Eureka!" moments most of which end in a stain, something broken, or some other painful memory. (Oh, the scars!) Minding my own business and watching television, I suddenly realized what
the answer to this problem might be. When I worked in the food industry, we made an intermediate product that plated oleoresin paprika or oleoresin black pepper onto salt. It was a convenient way to get this ingredient into the product. Basically, an oil that
had either paprika or black pepper soaked in it would be added to salt. The oils wouldn't dissolve the salt, rather they deposited the flavor (and color) onto the salt crystals. The salt remained relatively free flowing. I was excited! Could this be the answer?
I ran to the kitchen and grabbed the sugar and the olive oil. There was a potential problem. Salt is an ionic crystal. Sugar is a molecular crystal. I'm not exactly sure what that might mean, but salt is held together by it's electric charge, whereas sugar
sticks together out of sheer spite, or something like that! Would oil and sugar leave me with a lumpy mess, or a fairly free flowing powder? I took a 1/4 cup of sugar and intended to put a few drops of oil in it. Excitement got the better of me and about a
half teaspoon went in. I stirred it up and was very happy to see that the oil plated to the sugar just like it would to salt! It wasn't as free flowing as I had hoped, but there was far too much oil in it for the amount of sugar. I think this is going to work!
Now I just need to find a source of peppermint oil. If I had enough of my own peppermint, I would dry it and then extract it in some corn or peanut oil, and then use that to make my sugar.