11 August 2010

Operation Gummy Abomination

So some of you have asked (okay, nobody has) how I accomplished such a daring feat of science as to create giant gummy bears that weigh in at 3/4 of a pound each. Well, it's surprisingly simple!

  1. Get Lots of Gummy Bears: Brand name probably doesn't matter much, but it should follow that a better quality bear will lead to a better end product. I should note that you don't *have* to use Bears, but they tend to be more prevalent in bulk. You could use any gelatin-based candy, like worms, swedish fish, probably even Sour-Patch Kids, but the choice is really up to you.
  2. Get Some Molds: Just like with Jello, chocolate, or any other substance that can be melted and reformed - anything can be a mold. The obvious choice here was a bear shape, and the easiest mold to use was a plastic honey bear. No, I didn't empty out dozens of honey bear bottles for use in my little scheme. A simple Google search turned up a few sites that sell the bottles in bulk, and relatively cheap. I got mine (8oz LDPE bottles) from Wasserstrom Restaurant Supply. The bottles were $0.45 each plus shipping. Whatever you choose, just make sure you have an exit strategy for the finished product - see below.
  3. Sort it All Out: This is technically an optional step, but you can have some fun with it. If you melt unsorted bears you'll end up with a funky brown color with a very mixed fruit flavor. But you can mix and match to get a color or flavor combination that you want - cherry & orange, lemon & whatever the clear bears are, etc.
  4. Prep The Mold: One thing I found is that molten gummy is possibly one of the stickiest substances on earth; it even made a good show of clinging to a nonstick pot. Cooled off, it can usually be peeled off whatever surface it adhered to, but it's best to give yourself some insurance and aid in extraction by giving the bears a spritz of nonstick cooking spray, or shaking in a few drops of vegetable oil (neutral flavor here is best). Let the bears drain over a paper towel after you've lubed them up to let keep the excess from pooling up in the bottom.
  5. The Melting: Now, I am not the first person to attempt this horrid experiment. But I'd like to think I refined the process a bit. My first two attempts at melting the gummies were in a small pot on the stove over low heat. While they did end up melting, it took incredibly long at a safe temperature, and at higher temps introduced bubbles into the gummy. After a little experimentation I found that you can melt them in the microwave. I almost filled a 2-cup Pyrex measuring cup with gummies and put in the nuker for 2 minutes at 50% power and got great results. If you're worried about air bubbles you can pack the gummies into the cup, but most of the bubbles will get drawn out after you...
  6. Pour: CAREFULLY. I cannot emphasize this enough. Molten gummy is not only extremely sticky it also gets very hot - not a good combination, as there's the potential for burns if you mess up and get a good amount on your skin. This highlights another advantage of using the microwave and a measuring cup - you get a lot better precision in pouring. The bears I poured using stove-melted gummy had globs going everywhere when I missed the mouth of the bottle or it poured too fast.
  7. Cool: Where you do this is up to you. The gummy will solidify at room temperature, but will take a good amount of time to do so. Once the bottles are warm enough to handle, you can stick them in the fridge and they'll be ready for extraction much sooner. I'd recommend putting the caps on as well just to keep them from picking up any funky fridge flavors floating around.
  8. Extract: Once the bears are cooled, time to contemplate how to get them out of the mold. Now, gummy is pretty resilient stuff, so score marks will rebound for the most part. I used a clean X-acto knife to slice down the back of the bear from the neck of the bottle to the base, and then pulled the bears out of the slit. Once I pulled them, I rinsed them under cold water briefly and then dried them off with paper towels to get any lingering oil off of them.
  9. Enjoy!
Of course you can fix any imperfections you want - I cut off the "crew-cuts" they had from the bottle necks with a knife, which left some score marks on the head. You can experiment with whatever looks good for you.

So how do you eat one? Any way you can! My best advice is to take a bite and pull. I think you'll find that the finished gummy will actually taste better than the original "raw" gummy bears did!

Happy melting!

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