Showing posts with label element experiment. Show all posts
Showing posts with label element experiment. Show all posts

Thursday, July 8, 2010

From the Bakery: Experimenting with Coffee that doesn't Spill

Hello World Wide Web,
I’m Chris and I handle most of the baking at Element Bars World Head Quarters. When I’m not up to my elbows in apple-juice-sweetened-cherries, I’m helping answer customer emails and experimenting with new ingredients. I’ll be giving you a peek inside EB and sharing some of the challenges and adventures we encounter in our business.

My job is to provide customers with the all-natural, healthy ingredients they want in a bar that tastes great. Incorporating all three of these criteria in a 2-3 ounce bar is not always easy as my recent effort to introduce caffeine to our Element Endurance bars shows. There were a lot of trials, experimentation, confusion and I was ultimately left scratching my hairnet. While including the caffeine equivalent of a cup of coffee in each bar might sound appealing (especially if you’re like me and spill your coffee fairly regularly), I quickly found out that it tastes like toxic waste. So for now back to the drawing board and when I get it right, it will be on the Build-a-Bar screen!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Homemade Endurance Fuel that Jiggles - Eeew Goo v1.0

Remember Jell-O(R) Jigglers(R)? The fun little fruity gelatin creations I (and am guessing you) threw at your siblings.

Well, as my endurance training has ratcheted up over 6 miles, I've found a need for hydration and energy to make it through the run. Wanting to add a little variety to my pre and post run Element Bar I found myself in the rarefied space where endurance training meets entrepreneurial spirit... the kitchen. My intention was to create something that I still don't know what to call: Endurance Goo, Endurance Jiggler, Endurance Gummy. I assumed that all it would take is a little electrolyte, a little complex carbohydrate, a little simple carbohydrate. The result:

Endurance Fuel gEeeew

These turned out so bad, that my own mother spit them out. Cringing, she tried to breathe between gasps of, "They're disgusting", "Why didn't you warn me", and "Eeew". They probably fit better in a cup of tea than in a workout, but they are effective. On longer runs that actually qualify as endurance training, I wrap a chunk of goo in a small piece of plastic wrap and bite off a pieces as I run. I keep the goo in my cheek getting a steady flow of sugars to keep my energy level high.

I'll post again soon with a revised recipe that should be more palatable. Until then, enjoy your experimentation, and schedule a dentist appointment for those cavities. If you also want to try your own endurance goo then read the rest of this post as a step-by-step process of what you should avoid.

The Experimentation

After finding recipes for Gummy Bears online I figured I was ready (in retrospect, a mistake). Sugars and a little electrolyte in the form of salt and calcium chloride or Powerade endurance sport drink would give me a fruity gummy that could get me over the hump. Endurance training is taxing, so I just wanted portable fuel that's easy to eat, whatever the format.

I started with this recipe (Check the Notes section at the bottom for more clarification/tips)

modified from This Recipe from Recipe Secrets


1 box of Powdered Pectin (1.75 oz)

1/2 teaspoon of baking soda

1 cup of to-remain-unnamed red Endurance Sport Drink

1 cup of Honey

1 cup Granulated Sugar

1 cupcake baking tray (pretty good for cooling, though a brownie pan would work too)


1. Combine the pectin and baking soda in a decent sized (medium+) saucepan. Add your Sport Drink (or water), stirring until the pectin is dissolved. As you heat it...the mixture will foam. Keep stirring until the mixture is thick, smooth, and clear. (This was tough to discern, because of the foaming, basically just stir on a simmer for 2-3 minutes). Remove heat, cover saucepan to keep pectin warm.

2. Combine the honey and sugar in another saucepan (preferably a Large-ish one, because this stuff bubbles like crazy). Stir until the sugar dissolves, make the sugar mix boil.

3. Use a candy thermometer (I didn't have one, so I panicked and looked on google for what a "hard ball" consistency was) on the pan and cook until 260 F (hard ball stage).

4. Once you hit the hard ball stage, add the pectin mixture immediately (prepare for some noisy steaming), and return the sugar mix+pectin mix to a boil. Boil for exactly 1 minute (I'm pretty sure this is a tad flexible, but get it close).

5. Add any zest, juices, etc, and mix. Pour the resulting syrup into your molds. I used cupcake molds, and these worked great. Let it sit until cooled and firm. The recipe said wait 5 hours, but mine were pretty firm in 2-3 hrs. I didn't use any non-stick spray or anything, and they came out of the metal mold pretty well...a little spray would have helped the release (but I really hate adding any unnecessary processed ingredients to my food)

6. While still in your mold sprinkle some superfine sugar on the tops to help prevent sticking. Commercial gummies often have Carnauba Wax on the outside to coat, preventing sticking. Believe it or not, I didn't have any lying around in my pantry, so sugar had to do.


1) Superfine sugar - This stuff is like tiny normal sugar IS granulated though. Powdered sugar is not a good substitute. Mine got slimy, because I overlooked this fact and used powdered sugar...goop city.

2) Hard Ball - Candy makers know all about this. The rest of us don't. Candy goes through stages as it is heated, and different temperatures and sugar concentrations create different candy types. A "Cold Water Candy Test" is used to determine if the concoction is right for your candy type. Check out this article if you're interested (Sugar Stages). I resorted to actually testing mine, and the little sugar turned into a slightly malleable ball of Endurance goo when dropped in water.