Thursday, August 19, 2010

Science Fun

This week Jessica has been working on a science project. What else would a child rather do than a science experiment with chocolate as the main ingredient.
She is making...

Magic Chocolate

You will need

• Cooking chocolate
• Coconut butter (available from health food shops)
• Large saucepan
• Small metal mixing bowl
• Plastic container
• Kitchen scales
• Water
• Wooden spoon
• Tea towel
• Ice cream
• Spoons
• Bowls
• Stove

What to do

1. Weigh 100 grams of cooking chocolate using a set of kitchen scales.
2. Weigh 100 grams of coconut butter using a set of kitchen scales.
3. Half fill the saucepan with water and set it to boil on the stove.
4. Sit the metal mixing bowl on top of the saucepan of boiling water and add the chocolate,allowing it to melt.
5. Add the coconut butter.
6. As the ingredients melt, stir them together using the wooden spoon. Use the tea towel or an oven mitt to hold the bowl, as it will be hot.
7. Optional: Add other ingredients such as mint flavouring, cinnamon or nutmeg to flavour your chocolate topping.
8. Once it has all melted, pour the mixture into a small plastic container.
9. Scoop some ice cream into a bowl.
10. Pour the chocolate over the ice cream and watch it harden.

What's happening?

Coconut butter is essentially little more than the oil from the coconut seed. It is extracted either by washing the kernel's white meat in a pool of water and then skimming the oil from the surface; or by directly squeezing the oil from the dried coconut.
The oil is a specific mix of different types of molecules called 'fatty acids', which are long chains of hydrocarbon (carbon with hydrogen atoms attached) ending in a 'carboxylic acid' group.
Depending on how the carbons are linked to each other, some of them can be linked to two, one or no hydrogen atoms. If there are any carbons holding less than two hydrogen atoms, the fatty acid is said to be 'unsaturated'. These chains can also be short (caproic acid has only 8 carbon atoms) or long (arachidic acid has 20 carbon atoms). The lengths of the chains and their saturation will affect the temperature at which the mixture will turn to a liquid.
At colder temperatures, the mix of fatty acid chains in coconut butter clumps together as a solid, which is why it hardens on your ice cream. Once the temperature reaches about 24oC, the solid butter melts into liquid oil, which allows it to flow freely.


Fatty acids play an important part in your health. For the most part, your body can produce them from other nutrients. However two types of fatty acid (called 'essential' fatty acids) need to be taken in through the food we eat, especially plants like linseeds and soybeans. One is a type of omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid. The other is a type of omega-6 fatty acid called linoleic acid.
They are both unsaturated and are important in allowing our body's cells to communicate with one another.
Too much fat in your diet – especially saturated fats – can lead to health problems. For example, some fatty acids can easily stick to damaged blood vessels to create rough plaques, slowing the blood flow or creating a blockage. However, removing all of the fat from your diet can make it difficult for your body to perform all of its important functions.
So enjoying a bowl of ice cream with some coconut-oil chocolate topping every now and then is fine. Eating it every night, however, might be creating some problems for your body. A healthy, balanced diet full of fresh fruit and vegetables with frequent light exercise is the best way to ensure your body has all of the important nutrients it needs to keep you fighting fit well into the future.

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