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TIME Food & Drink

Here’s How Ice Cream Will Look—and Taste—in the Future

Brace yourself for edible shells and 3-D printing.

As the old saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? Well, we’re pretty sure that doesn’t apply to ice cream. It’s already, by many accounts, the perfect food, so it certainly doesn’t need “fixing” per se, but we’re completely open to the idea that it could be made even better.

Here, a look at three current projects that are shaking up the ice cream world — and potentially altering the future of everybody’s favorite frozen treat.

  • Ice cream that’s been 3D printed

    When faced with an assignment to develop a new and innovative technology in 3D-printing, a group of MIT students decided to think a bit differently from their classmates.

    “Everyone else was printing composites and resins and none of that was very tasty,” says Kyle Hounsell, now a recent MIT graduate, who teamed with fellow students to think of some edible options for the project. Eventually, he and fellow students Donghyun Kim and Kristine Bunker decided they’d try to 3D-print ice cream — and it ended up working.

    The team took an ordinary off-the-shelf soft-serve ice cream machine and then attached it to a Solidoodle 3D printer.

    “The technology is called fused deposition modeling,” Hounsell explains. “Basically what you do is you put down the first layer of whatever you’re doing, be it plastic or ice cream or chocolate. You extrude your first layer from this nozzle — it’s sort of like if you had a hot glue gun and you put it down on a table and made a ring, and by the time you got around to the start, you’d move the head up a little bit and go around again. And the first ring you printed has solidified, so it’s more structurally stable, but when you go back around, you extrude new stuff which melts to it and becomes part of it.”

    That’s the process you’ll see in the video above. You might notice that the ice cream looks a bit runny, but that’s only because the team had to keep the machine’s door open to capture the video. To make sure the ice cream solidified, the students added a nozzle to sprays liquid nitrogen onto the freshly-printed layers.

    The next step, Hounsell says, is to file a patent and figure out what the future of 3D printed ice cream could hold.

    “Novelty would be a strong factor. I feel like you could just plop one of these down in a Target or something in a glass-walled freezer and sit there and watch,” he says. “Watching 3D printers work is mesmerizing. At least to me.”

  • Ice cream that’s made to order with liquid nitrogen

    A boy observes Smitten Ice Cream's Brrr machine in action. Toni Gauthier / Toni Bird Photography

    In the heart of San Francisco sits Smitten Ice Cream, where every batch of ice cream is made to order, on the spot, using a high-tech machine called Brrr. This apparatus, which took years to develop and patent, produces what Vogue called “arguably the freshest, if not the best, ice cream on earth.”

    The key ingredient? Liquid nitrogen.

    “The gist is that the faster you freeze ice cream, the smaller the ice crystals can be, and the smaller the ice crystals, the smoother the texture,” Smitten founder Robyn Sue Fisher says. “To freeze really fast, you freeze really cold. So liquid nitrogen, being negative 321 degrees Fahrenheit, really fits that bill.”

    Making ice cream this way means you can produce smooth, dense, tasty ice cream — and it also means you can cut out emulsifiers, preservatives and stabilizers, instead using fresh, local ingredients.

    “The whole impetus of me starting the company is just that I was getting kind of of grossed out by looking at the back of ice cream cartons and realizing how many ingredients were in the product that I couldn’t even pronounce,” Fisher says.

    Fisher admits that making ice cream with liquid nitrogen is nothing new — but other ice cream shops tend to do this with a basic kitchen mixer, and without a carefully engineered machine, it’s difficult to get the right texture every time. Plus, customers get to watch the machine in action as it churns their ice cream in a whirring, cloudy haze.

    For now, Smitten has four locations around the Bay Area. While Fisher doesn’t have plans to take over the world, if this ice cream is truly as delicious and fresh as it looks, you never know.

  • Ice cream served inside an edible shell

    WikiPearl ice cream balls WikiFoods

    These golf ball-sized ice cream spheres are designed to be easy to eat, but they’ve also got an eco-friendly purpose: eliminating wasteful food packaging. They’re called WikiPearls and they were developed by Harvard biomedical engineering professor David Edwards, who was inspired by foods like grapes and coconuts that essentially come with built-in packaging.

    But of course, this is still ice cream we’re talking about — so taste is a priority.

    “For a new food form to be really successful, it has to be really good and give benefits that people are looking for in food,” Edwards says. “So the packaging is a great thing but from a consumer point of view, it just needs to be really great.”

    The edible skins are made of natural food particles that are bound together with nutritive ions to form a soft skin that keeps the ice cream inside cold for several hours. You can throw them inside a Thermos and carry them with you throughout the day, popping them into your mouth when you need a snack. (Portion control, anyone?)

    For now, WikiPearls are sold at a little shop in Paris, but Edwards says they’ll soon be available in the U.S. at Cafe ArtScience opening in September in Cambridge, Mass. Flavors are fairly standard (mango ice cream with coconut skin, chocolate ice cream with hazelnut skin) but Edwards says some more eccentric flavors — like foie gras ice cream with an onion skin — are coming this fall.

    Frozen yogurt in WikiPearl form exists too, if you’re into that sort of thing. They’re a bit smaller — about the size of a grape — and can be found at a few Whole Foods locations around New England. (As we all know, though, frozen yogurt is great, but it can’t really replace the true star of the show.)

    While Edwards hopes that WikiPearls will one day be the new normal of ice cream, he’s also got plans to expand this technology into other culinary realms. He’s already created versions including cheese, fruits and vegetables — and while we’re not sure how receptive consumers will be to those, we do think the ice cream balls could be a hit.

TIME Food & Drink

All-Nutella Restaurant Coming to New York City

Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post—Getty Images

Sweet idea!

Attention Nutella fans: Book a ticket to Brooklyn and pack the pants with the stretchiest waistbands, because an all-Nutella restaurant is opening in Park Slope, Grub Street reports.

The menu for the soon-to-open aptly-named restaurant Nutelleria is filled with chocolate-nut spread-filled delights, including breakfast pizzas, crepes, croissants and a bacon-banana-Nutella waffle sandwich, that should give Mario Batali and Dominique Ansel a run for his money (unless they team up to serve Nutella-filled Cronuts).

The exact opening day for the restaurant run by self-described “Nutella enthusiasts” is still to be determined, but buzz is already building around the chocoholic’s dream spot, who may already be eying opening an additional location in Miami.

While Nutella freaks worldwide love the concept, Ferrero, the Italian company that makes Nutella, may not be a fan. In the past, the company has sent cease and desist letters to Nutella visionaries around the world, including Boloco, a New England chain that sold a Nutella-yogurt shake on the grounds that they “don’t endorse the use of Nutella or the Nutella brand in frozen beverages,” as well as the creator of World Nutella Day. Plus, the company has its own Nutella bar set up across the East River in Eataly and may not take a shine to the competition, even though there’s probably more than enough Nutella love to go around.

Don’t worry, there are always these Nutella alternatives.

MORE: There’s a $10 Secret Menu Item at Arby’s Called the Meat Mountain

MORE: Mozzarella Is the Best Pizza Cheese, According to Science

TIME Food & Drink

Texas Brewery Unveils 99-Pack of Beer

99 Pack Beer
Helms Workshop

The 7-foot-long monster is all yours for $99.99

Don’t mess with Texas, especially when it comes to beer.

Austin Beerworks has partnered with Helms Workshop to launch “the world’s first and only 99-pack” of its Peacemaker Anytime Ale.

Moving it will take a few friends because the 99-pack is over 7 ft long (2.13 m) and weighs 82 pounds (37 kg), according to the brewery. Inside the box are three rows of 33 cans of the pale ale, which, if you drank them all, would amount to over 15,000 calories.

“What started out as a joke became very real when we realized how much people love the idea of 99 beers for $99.99!” Austin Beerworks co-founder Michael Graham said in a press release.

A limited supply of 99-packs are expected to hit selected stores this week.

“Good luck and remember,” the 99-pack creators warn on the website, “lift with your legs, not your back.”

 

TIME Food & Drink

There’s a $10 Secret Menu Item at Arby’s Called the Meat Mountain

And it's quite literally a mountain made of ALL the meats

Well, this is truly the stuff of Ron Swanson’s wildest dreams. Arby’s has a secret menu item (meaning it’s not on the official menu but you can request it and they’ll make it for you) called the Meat Mountain. It’s a truly formidable tower of meats, and it all started because of this promotional photo:

Arby’s created that poster to remind consumers that the chain sells plenty of meats besides its famous roast beef, the Washington Post explains. This marketing strategy worked, apparently, because people started coming in asking if they could order that entire stack o’ meats. And lo, the Meat Mountain was born. Here’s what the $10 monstrosity-on-a-bun includes, from the bottom up:

  • 2 chicken tenders
  • 1.5 oz. of roast turkey
  • 1.5 oz. of ham
  • 1 slice of Swiss cheese
  • 1.5 oz. of corned beef
  • 1.5 oz. brisket
  • 1.5 oz. of Angus steak
  • 1 slice of cheddar cheese
  • 1.5 oz. roast beef
  • 3 half-strips of bacon

A few people have been brave enough to try it:

Unfortunately, the Meat Mountain doesn’t seem to be something all Arby’s employees know about just yet. The Wire’s Adam Chandler ventured to an Arby’s in Queens in search of this elusive meat monster and was met with blank stares. A manager told him the request was impossible. So he ordered everything required to assemble the Meat Mountain himself, spending $29 instead of the expected $10.

But can you really put a price on the incredible feat of scaling the formidable Meat Mountain?

TIME Food & Drink

Why Veggie Aisles at Supermarkets Could Start Looking More Like Junk Food Aisles

Getty Images

Can shelves lined with veggie snacks produce that "kid in a candy store" feeling?

Next time you go to the grocery store, bags of carrots might come in flavors like “chili lime” and look suspiciously like packets of potato chips. At least, that’s the idea behind Bolthouse Farms’ new campaign to get kids to eat more veggies.

NPR reports the company is rolling out products like these carrot “Veggie Snackers” and tubes of pureed fruit to market the healthy foods to children, designing the packaging and aisle layouts to look more like the candy section than produce shelves.

Laura Karet, CEO of Giant Eagle, told NPR that these child produce stations are a “win-win.” Giant Eagle is installing these kid-friendly sections in about 400 stores in the mid-Atlantic and Ohio, and Walmart plans to implement them in 1,500 stores later this year.

Jeff Dunn, CEO of Bolthouse, explained to NPR that the “Veggie Snacker” carrots “give you that crunch and flavor” of chips, and that you’ll “get that same sensory [experience] you get with salty snacks.”

Now it just remains to be seen whether hungry kids will agree.

TIME Food & Drink

The Science Behind Baking the Most Delicious Cookie Ever

Different types of chocolate chip cookies
HANDLE THE HEAT

Because, c’mon, we’re talking chocolate chip cookies here

This post originally appeared on Ozy.com.

You like soft and chewy. He likes thin and crispy. If only there were a chocolate chip cookie recipe that pleased everyone…

There is! And, no, it’s not Martha Stewart’s. It’s science.

We’ve taken our cues from a few spots: a bioengineering grad student named Kendra Nyberg, who co-taught a class at UCLA called Science and Food, and chef and cookbook author Tessa Arias, who writes about cookie science on her site, Handle the Heat.

There’s also an illuminating Ted Talk animation on cookie science. And if you really want to go nuts (or no nuts, your call), Serious Eats offers 21 painstakingly tested steps for the Perfect Cookie, including kneading times and chocolate prep techniques.

“Even though I can describe what I like,” says Nyberg, “I didn’t know the role of each ingredient in the texture and shape of cookies.” So she looked into it — as only a scientist can.

(MORE: His Grandfather Invented Doritos But Tim West Prefers Kale)

Here, relying on the experts’ help and based on the classic Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe, OZY presents no-fail tips for baking your perfect cookie. (You’re welcome.)

Ooey-gooey: Add 2 cups more flour.

A nice tan: Set the oven higher than 350 degrees (maybe 360). Caramelization, which gives cookies their nice brown tops, occurs above 356 degrees, says the Ted video.

Crispy with a soft center: Use 1/4 teaspoon baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda.

Chewy: Substitute bread flour for all-purpose flour.

(MORE: Food Waste – There’s (Finally) An App For That)

Just like store-bought: Trade the butter for shortening. Arias notes that this ups the texture but reduces some flavor; her suggestion is to use half butter and half shortening.

Thick (and less crispy): Freeze the batter for 30 to 60 minutes before baking. This solidifies the butter, which will spread less while baking.

Cakey: Use more baking soda because, according to Nyberg, it “releases carbon dioxide when heated, which makes cookies puff up.”

Butterscotch flavored: Use 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar (instead of the same amount of combined granulated sugar and light brown sugar).

Uniformity: If looks count, add one ounce corn syrup and one ounce granulated sugar.

More. Just, more: Chilling the dough for at least 24 hours before baking deepens all the flavors, Arias found.

(MORE: Table for One? This Question Will Never Terrify You Again.)

TIME Food & Drink

The California Quake May Cost Wine Country Billions

On the other hand, it could have been much worse

+ READ ARTICLE

Financial damage from the earthquake that rattled California’s Napa Valley on Sunday may barrel from hundreds of millions of dollars of immediate property damage to billions in total economic losses, Reuters reports.

On top of more than 200 people injured, around 50 buildings in the city of Napa — the famed wine region’s economic hub — were deemed unsafe to enter following the 6.0-magnitude quake. The temblor was the fiercest to hit the state’s Bay Area in 25 years, Reuters says.

Disaster-modeling firm CoreLogic estimated that the total insured economic losses to the region could range from $500 million to $1 billion; but as only 6% of local homes are estimated to have earthquake coverage, according to the Insurance Information Institute in New York City, the total bill is likely to be much higher.

While Napa’s 2014 vintage is still slated for great things, a large amount of stock was destroyed by the quake. “It’s a big mess right now,” Rick Ruiz, operations director for the wine retailer TwentyFour Wines, told Reuters. “It’s a logistical nightmare.”

However, wine buffs need not totally despair, as the timing of the quake was in fact somewhat fortuitous — coming after the 2013 vintage had been dispatched for delivery but before most of the current year’s grape harvest was picked.

[Reuters]

TIME Food & Drink

Barista-Free Coffee Shop Uses the Honor System to Turn a Profit

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Espresso machine pouring coffee into cups Kathrin Ziegler—Getty Images

Trusting strangers is a viable business strategy, who knew?

Any time the honor system is used successfully, I think of Ayn Rand—the founder of Objectivism, the academically bankrupt theory of overriding and extreme self-interest. According to her philosophy, the honor system should never work: According to her, rationally, it shouldn’t work because one should take what they want and pay nothing for it. (Incidentally, there’s an economic theory that governs this principle called the “tragedy of the commons,” where a resource is spoiled for many through the actions of selfish individuals.)

10 months ago, a coffee shop in Valley City, North Dakota (pop. 6,700) called The Vault put the honor system to the test; now, months later, they’ve earned 15% more money than they’ve asked for, the Associated Press reports. The Vault isn’t any different than your local cafe—it has commercially brewed coffee, gourmet flavorings, pastries, and soft drinks. But what it doesn’t have are baristas. On the frequently-asked-questions section of the Vault’s website, the owners—David and Kimberly Brekke—acknowledge that their business model is “location-based.” Though they do believe it could work elsewhere, they maintain that it would only work “in tight-knit communities that adopt the establishment as their own.”

For the rest of us, this is just more evidence that Midwesterners might have life figured out.

[AP]

TIME Food & Drink

McDonald’s Is Testing Mozzarella Sticks With Marinara Sauce

The chain is currently testing the product in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut

We’re still trying to sort out our feelings about the fact that the next addition to the McDonald’s menu might be mozzarella sticks.

For now, it’s just a test. The fast food joint is selling mozz sticks in select locations across New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, a McDonald’s spokesperson confirms to TIME. They come three to a package (with a side of marinara sauce, of course) and cost just one dollar.

A few people on Twitter have shared photos of the surprising find:

Yup, they look like your average, everyday mozzarella sticks. For now, it all depends on how the test goes. They were previously available at locations in the U.K., and there’s a small initiative to make them a permanent fixture on the menu.

No word yet on what name McDonald’s will use if they do add them to the U.S. menu, but it’s natural to assume they’ll go with something like McMozzarella Sticks. Or perhaps McMozzies. Stay tuned.

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