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The Great Chocolate Experiment (Part 3) – Because You Asked For It

Categories: Candy,Candy Recipes,Chocolate Candy,Weird Candy

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Uncoated Ingredients
Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the Great Chocolate Experiment, where I, your humble researcher, aided by my Research Assistant and Tasting Panel, apply the Scientific Method in order to determine which foods taste good with chocolate – and which do not. In Part 2, as you may recall, we discovered that chocolate-coated sun-dried tomatoes and roasted garlic were tasty indeed, while chocolate coated gum was utterly disgusting.

At the end of Part 2, I asked our readers to submit their suggestions for items to test in the next edition. And did you ever! Suggestions ranged from canned frosting to wasabi peanuts to beer, but in the end, only four ingredients could make the cut. So, read on and enjoy this very special edition of the Great Chocolate Experiment…. Because you asked for it!

The following ingredients will be tested in today’s experiment:

Fritos corn chips: Ancient peoples of Mexico and South America were the first to combine chocolate with savory ingredients like chili. Today, we will attempt to determine whether it goes as well with another (totally authentic) Mexican ingredient.

Ham: Until recently, the field of candy making has neglected one major food group: meat. Now, the chocolate/bacon combo is yesterday’s news. Several of you asked for chocolate-coated bacon to be tested, but due to the abundance of existing research data proving the tastiness of this combination, the research team chose to substitute another favorite cured pork product.

Pickles: In this researcher’s opinion, there are few things tastier than a good pickle fresh out of the fridge. But will the taste of a chocolate-coated pickle put the research team off of these tangy treats for life? (We’re using my favorite kosher garlic/dill pickles – because our readers deserve the very best!)

Rice cakes: There’s a reason most people only eat plain rice cakes when they’re dieting – in the research team’s opinion, their flavor is highly reminiscent of Styrofoam packing peanuts. Can chocolate save this snack from boring wholesomeness?

Procedure:

Step 1: Brown a piece of ham steak in a small frying pan on medium heat.

Step 2: Cut the ham, one kosher garlic and dill pickle and a plain rice cake into bite-sized pieces

Step 3: Melt some Callebaut dark chocolate in the microwave, following the directions in Part 1.) (For easier dipping, use a narrow vessel like a mug.)

Step 4: Use chopsticks or a fork to coat the cut-up ingredients and a handful of Fritos corn chips in the chocolate. (Use a separate container of chocolate for the pickles to avoid imparting a vinegar-garlic flavor to the remaining chocolate.) Arrange on a plastic-wrap- or parchment-paper-lined baking sheet and freeze for one to two hours until chocolate is firm to the touch.

Step 5: Have a Research Assistant and/or Tasting Panel aid you in tasting the items.

Observations:

Chocolate-coated corn chipsFritos corn chips: The natural crunchy, corny, salty goodness of Fritos was, unfortunately, largely masked by the heavy chocolate flavor. Even the crunch of each piece was muffled. We were forced to conclude that the pieces had been too thickly coated in chocolate, or perhaps that the dark chocolate was too strong for the corn chips’ milder flavor. A retest may be in order.

Experiment Status: Retest Recommended


Chocolate-coated ham Ham: We popped the pieces into our mouths and chewed. And chewed some more. Alas, all our efforts failed to extract any ham flavor, just a dry, meaty texture beneath the coating of chocolate.

“I can’t taste the ham,” I said. “I’m disappointed.”

“You’re disappointed?” the Research Assistant asked incredulously. But I was disappointed after all the hype about the pork/chocolate combination. Clearly our thin ham steak, which had also gotten somewhat overcooked due to my leaving it in the pan while I was outside taking photographs, was not the right ham for the job. I would like to redo the experiment with a meatier chunk of ham and to brown it lightly, if at all.

Experiment status: Retest Recommended


Chocolate-coated picklesPickles: The combination of dill, vinegar, garlic and chocolate was… well, it was something, all right. It made my face pucker and my eyes water – and not in a good way like the Super Lemons I reviewed a while back.

Even Assistant Taster Laurie’s Dad, the only one brave enough to try the (surprisingly tasty) garlic truffles in Part 2, pronounced them “like putting perfume on a pig.” (I think that’s Dad-speak for “Blech.”) “They’re not REALLY disgusting, just strong,” was the Research Assistant’s final verdict. Clearly, two delicious things do not always combine to make a delicious whole.

Experiment Status: Failure


Chocolate-coated rice cakesRice cakes: After the unpleasantness of the chocolate-coated pickles, something dry and bland seemed like just the ticket – and there’s nothing drier and blander than plain rice cakes. And despite our valiant efforts, the coating of chocolate did not help this state of affairs in the slightest. My Research Assistant summed it up as follows: “It still tastes like a rice cake.” That alone is enough for me to declare this experiment a failure.

Experiment status: Failure


Conclusion:

Alas, there were no standouts in today’s installment of the Great Chocolate Experiment. But never fear – in a universe of delicious food items, we’re bound to discover at least a few more items that are unexpectedly improved by adding chocolate. The epic search continues in Part 4 of The Great Chocolate Experiment!

(You guys had so many great ingredient suggestions that we’re using a few more of them in Part 4 – stay tuned! And feel free to post any other ideas you may have.)

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17 Responses to “The Great Chocolate Experiment (Part 3) – Because You Asked For It”

  1. 1
    Dwain says:

    Without trying to be too “anal” about this, what kind of ham were you using there? It looks real to me in the picture, but I would think that the better the quality of the ham, the better the result. I’d even go so far as to say that a country ham, one that’s more heavily salted and cured, would probably stand up to chocolate more than a more moist ham. And I’d definitely stay away from “ham” that’s not real, i.e., “ham product in loaf form.”

  2. 2
    amypaige says:

    i agree with the previous poster. i would think ham and chocolate would be delicious. after viewing your photos, it appears that a much lighter coating of chocolate may have helped all of the items. i wonder if the chocolate can be thinned out so it doesn’t thicken up quite so much. the corn chips and rice cakes looked promising too. much as i absolutely love love love pickles, i can’t see them going with chocolate. what about grapes? grapes are often a frozen delicacy on their own. maybe with chocolate they would be totally decadent??

  3. 3
    laurie says:

    The ham I used was just a standard ham steak, and it was “real” ham, not the loaf kind (from the looks of it, all they do is take the bone out of the middle.) As I mentioned in the article, the ham steak was pretty thin, plus it got overcooked. I’m unlikely to buy a whole country ham for a couple of chunks to dip in chocolate (watching my blood pressure, you know), but I am planning to retry the ham with a thicker, jucier piece, and the corn chips as well. Stay tuned!

    As for the coating on the items, keep in mind that I’m a chocolate-making amateur, and getting a nice, even coat can be tricky without getting it too thick (as is judging what’s going to be “too thick” for a particular ingredient. If any of our readers with more candy-making experience want to try any of my “experiments” at home and post their results here, I’d be interested in hearing how your results compare with mine (and I’m sure our readers would too!)

    I don’t know of any way to thin out chocolate and still have it be suitable for coating. I could switch to those chocolate “melting wafers” that are specifically for making chocolates, but that would mean a loss in the quality of flavour as I don’t think that stuff is real chocolate.

  4. 4
    Robby says:

    This is one of my favorite series of articles that you do! I can’t wait to read part IV, V… XL?

  5. 5
    rawxy says:

    I’ve tried chocolate covered fritos….they’re so tasty…the saltiness of the frito and the sweetness of the chocolate is a great combination.
    I tried the ham as well…I guess it was on thanksgiving…and It was pretty decent.
    I don’t think I wanna try chocolate covered pickles though…

  6. 6
    Anjea says:

    Everything tastes good with EITHER chocolate or garlic. If it’s not good with one, it’ll be good with the other!

  7. 7
    Lucy says:

    How brave you are!!!! Chocolate coated pickles… I love pickles and chocolate but not together. That was a funny entry. I’m looking at the lovely plate and if you were not a male, I would have attributed it to PMS or that you are pregnant LOL.

  8. 8
    Sea Hag says:

    I LOVE these! I think you should try pork rinds!

  9. 9
    Laurie says:

    Lucy – Actually, I’m a girl, but I’m definitely not pregnant, so I guess I’m just crazy.

  10. 10
    teqjack says:

    Pickles: have you considered a retry with sweet gherkins rather than a dill variety?

  11. 11
    per says:

    … maybe a “drizzle” technique for more delicate flavors…

    … I’d like to see you do salmon.

  12. 12
    Chelle says:

    You have to do the chocolate covered pickles with the sweet pickles…Heinz actually sold them for awhile (not sure if they still do?) I wouldn’t be so brave to try it with a dill pickle though :)

  13. 13
    Astrid says:

    I used to love Zesty Dill pickles with chocolate chips. Never tried coating them, but eaten together was delicious. I am a lover of dark chocolate, but I think that the fritos might be better with a good quality milk chocolate.

  14. 14
    Dawn says:

    Instead of dark chocolate with fritos try milk or semi-sweet chocolate instead. One my favorite thing is dipping fritos in chocolate syrup. I know, it is sick.

    Try Honey Baked Ham for ham type.

  15. 15
    Cadence says:

    Wow. Chocolate pickles. That’s just brave. I can’t wait to see what you’re going to do next.

  16. 16
    Quinn says:

    I love pickles with Hershey Choc. Syrup (less sugar one). And I’m not pregnant, but I just love the taste. I also love pringles coated in chocolate. I think everything tastes better with chocolate. Maybe not onions.

  17. 17
    Dragon-chan says:

    I salute you for trying those pickles. I cringe just thinking about them. As for suggestions, how about some kind of edible flower dipped in chocolate?

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