Four recipes that explain the science behind cooking. Learn what makes ice cream so creamy, how popcorn pops, what makes marshmallows gooey and fluffy, and how English muffins get the butter-soaking nooks and crannies.
You certainly don’t need to know how to make ice cream to enjoy it. But knowing how to shake up a batch of your favorite flavor, and understanding what’s going on when you do that, can help you appreciate the work and know-how that goes into making some of the delicious foods we’re lucky enough to be able to pick up, ready-made, at the grocery store. It seems like freezing sweetened cream into ice cream would be pretty easy, but it turns out that cream is complex stuff made from a delicate balance of fat, protein, and water.
For most people, English muffins are something you buy in a store. But before there were big factories making millions of muffins packed with billions of nooks and crannies, people always made English muffins at home. The reason is simple: they’re really easy to make—and, as breads go, they’re pretty fast, too.
Make your own sure-pop bags and you’ll never have to buy a box of microwave popcorn again. That’s going to save you money, in addition to teaching you all about exploding vegetables. One pound of regular popping corn is enough to make 50 bags of microwave popcorn.
The puffy, powdery, sweeter-than-sweet candy pillows known as marshmallows are filled with scientific fun. When you make them at home, you’re experimenting with all kinds of cool natural principles: You’re showing how collagen behaves (that’s the protein that makes up all the connective tissue in your body); you’re discovering how sugar forms crystals (and what happens when it gets hot enough to melt); you’re demonstrating how foams are made; and you’re discovering how gelatin gels work. These marshmallows are going to make you so-o-o-o-o smart!
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