Chocolate Chemistry at Galileo Summer Quest

Summer Quest offers traditional camp activities too!

When my god daughter picked Chefology: Decadent Desserts for her major at Galileo’s Summer Quest, I have to admit that I wasn’t all that impressed.  Galileo Learning is a company dedicated to enriching kids through science and art.  And frankly, I didn’t see much science or art in a bunch of middle schoolers making ice cream.  But it’s what 10 year old, Bella, wanted.  So I caved.  Skeptically, I caved.

And then Bella called me after camp.  Among other things, the staff had showed them how to experiment with melting chocolate.  They learned about what happens when you add water to melting chocolate.  It seized and make a clumpy mess.  Then they tried honey, sugar syrup, and oil.  She talked about it with such excitement. Turns out that water in a chocolate raises a lot of complex issues.

Cacao, the main ingredient in chocolate, has water absorbent fibers which causes the particles to “drink in” the water and swell up.  Then those swollen cacao particles push away the cocoa butter and begin to seize the mixture.  Instead of a smooth chocolate, you end up with a lumpy, fudge-like texture.  Depending on the amount of water, this can vary from making the chocolate softer to totally crumbly and impossible to temper to making ganache.

Have you ever gone to a camp that encourages you to imagine things that don't yet exist?

All of this was important science in my god-daughter’s quest to make strawberry chocolate ice cream.  She started with a basic recipe for ice cream and then experimented with chocolate to find the right combination.  It was science at its finest.  Learning, innovating, tweaking her design based on feedback from both her staff and her peers.  I was so wrong about the camp.  And it was never so tasty to be so wrong.

By the end of the week, Bella had not only gained culinary skills, she also gained confidence.  She learned how to give, and how to accept, feedback.  She learned that there’s a ton of science in cooking.  I’ve replaced the foot in my mouth with a scoop of deliciousness.

Disclosure: Galileo Learning and I are working together on a series of posts in exchange for a free week of camp.  Since my son was an entering Kindergartner, we have been a part of the Camp Galileo family.  I’ll be paying for additional weeks at camp because my son loves it that much.

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