Most clear hard candy has what scientists call a glass structure. It’s a disorganized jumble of three kinds of sugar: glucose, fructose and sucrose, which can’t assemble into organized crystals, so it remains transparent when you melt it and allow it to re-harden.
To make stained glass for our gingerbread house windows, I adapted the crushed stained glass candy project from my book “STEAM Lab for Kids.” The challenge was figuring out how to create perfect rectangles. After some trial and error, I discovered that scoring the candy when it was still warm and soft created weak points, which allowed me to snap the candy into clean shapes once it had hardened.
-Jolly Ranchers, Life Savers or another clear, hard candy
-a baking sheet (spray or grease the baking sheet, if not using a silicon liner)
-a silicon liner for the baking sheet, if you have one
-a metal spatula or dough scraper
Safety tip: Adult supervision recommended. Hot, melted candy can cause burns. Don’t touch it until it has cooled.
What to do:
- Pre-heat the oven to 350F.
- Unwrap the candy and arrange the pieces on a baking sheet so that they’re close together, but not touching.
- Bake the candy for 7 to 8 minutes, or until it has melted.
- Remove the candy from the oven. Tilt the baking sheet, if needed, to fill gaps.
- Use the spatula to score (make lines in) the candy, creating whatever shapes/sizes you need.
- When the candy has cooled, snap it carefully along the lines you made. (See photo at the top of this post.)
- Eat your creations, or use them to decorate some edible architecture.
- Try crushing the candy before you melt it for different visual effects. What else could you try?
It’s fun to bring a little science into the holidays! Here are three fun projects from my new book Sheet Pan Science. Click here to watch the segment and learn to make Ice Globe Volcanoes, Epsom Salt Crystal Ornaments and Gelatin Window Stickies.
For more detailed instructions, more science and more sheet pan science, click here to order the book ($19.99) from Amazon, here to order from other online retailers or grab a copy at your favorite brick and morter bookstore!
Here’s some fun footage of kids doing projects from Kitchen Science Lab for Kids. I miss those mask-less photo shoots! (Book Photos by Amber Procaccini and illustrations by @kellyannedalton.) If you’ve got a young scientist on your list, “CHEMISTRY FOR KIDS -Homemade Science Experiments and Activities Inspired by Awesome Chemists, Past and Present” is available everywhere books are sold!
Here’s a video on how to make hot chocolate bombs. My tips below.
- Buy thin silicone molds like these that make it easy to pop chocolate half-domes out.
- Melt chocolate (chips or a chopped chocolate bar) in the microwave at 15 second intervals until almost all of it is melted, but there is still some solid chocolate. Stir until the last of the solid chocolate melts. (If you get the chocolate too hot, it ruins the crystal structure of the fat in the cocoa butter and it won’t re-harden very well.)
- Use a spoon or brush to coat the sides of the mold. Put in the freezer (or outdoors if it’s below freezing) for five minutes.
- Add a second layer of chocolate to cover any holes and thicken the structure. Put outside for five more minutes and then carefully remove the chocolate.
- Put hot chocolate mix and marshmallows in half of a dome.
- Add melted chocolate to a small plastic bag, cut the corner off and pipe the chocolate around the edge of the filled half-dome.
- Put a second half-dome on top, smooth the seam with your finger and allow the chocolate to hard.
- Decorate by piping more chocolate on top and adding crushed candy or sprinkles.
- Add to hot milk, stir and enjoy!
Make mini “lava lamps” from water, baking soda and oil to test whether candy contains citric acid!
The science behind the fun: Oil floats on water because it is less dense. When citric acid in candy combines with baking soda, a chemical reaction occurs which produces carbon dioxide gas bubbles. As the bubbles move up through the oil, they carry water and food coloring with them. Once the gas escapes into the air, gravity pulls the water and food coloring back down through the oil.to the bottom of the container.
Here’s a segment I did for TV last week, featuring of projects from Chemistry for Kids, which pairs the story of 25 scientists with hands-on projects related to their work! In the clip, I demonstrate how to collect essential oils from flowers, citrus or herbs using a crock pot and how to do a precipitation experiment similar to one Marie Curie used to extract radium from mining waste.
I joined the hosts of Twin Cities Live yesterday to show off three projects from my newest book! Chemistry for Kids is available everywhere books are sold!
I’m thrilled that my newest kids’ science book will be out this Spring and is available for pre-order wherever books are sold, including your favorite neighborhood bookstore, Barnes and Noble and Amazon!
I’ll be demonstrating several of the projects on television over the next few months and will post the clips here for you to check out!
Seven weeks from today, my new book “Kitchen Science Lab for Kids: Edible Edition” hits shelves everywhere books are sold, and there are some great pre-order sales going on now! Kitchen Science Lab for Kids, Edible Edition gives you 52 delicious ideas for exploring food science in your own kitchen by making everything from healthy homemade snacks to scrumptious main dishes and mind-boggling desserts.
Here’s a sneak peek into the book….
When you step into your kitchen to cook or bake, you put science to work. Physics and chemistry come into play each time you simmer, steam, bake, freeze, boil, puree, saute, or ferment food.
Knowing something about the physics, biology, and chemistry of food will give you the basic tools to be the best chef you can be. The rest is up to you!