Final Blog Post: Zeppole con Cioccolatta Calda

For our final project we made zeppole accompanied by cioccolata calda (Italian hot chocolate). A zeppole is a fried Italian doughnut popular at street festivals and fairs! Cioccolata calda is a thick and decadent chocolate mixture that Italians drink, as we drink hot chocolate! We assumed that the zeppole would be light and airy on the inside with air pockets that formed! We also assumed that the exterior of the zeppole would be crispy and golden brown! We assumed the cioccolata calda would be thick, glossy, and smooth- and it was! All of these assumptions came true!

Look our for Chemistry Q’s marked by ‘!!’ throughout the post 🙂

Video form of the assumptions and final product! Password is chemiscry



2 cups of all-purpose flour

1 cup warm water

Pinch of salt

1 package rapid-rise yeast

6 cups vegetable oil

Confectioners’ sugar

!!: Wait, what is yeast doing in this recipe??

Glad you asked! Yeast is used as the rising agent in our dough. The dough is simple: the ingredients are flour, warm water, yeast, and a pinch of salt. Yeast consume sugars to begin fermentation and allow the dough to rise. In this simple dough, enzymes in the yeast cause the starch molecules to break down into simple sugars that the yeast can consume. The yeast excrete carbon dioxide and ethanol into the dough. The addition of yeast to the dough not only allows it to rise, but it creates a network of gluten featuring large air pockets that trap the carbon dioxide the yeast produce. This creates a light, airy, and soft dough that holds up after being cooked.


          1. First, we mixed the flour, warm water, salt, and yeast together in a large bowl. Then we covered it and let it rest in the refrigerator for 2 hours. The dough should look like this when it’s done:

            After 2 hours in the fridge, the dough is ready

          2. Later, once the final lab had begun, we heated the oil to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. We use a saucepan, but a heavy pot could work as well! We then scooped up a tablespoon of dough and carefully dropped it into the hot oil. We found a greased ice cream scoop made the perfect size of zeppole and made placing them in the oil efficient. 
          3. We put 3 zeppoles in at a time, they were about the size of a munchkin from Dunkin’ Donuts. We were careful not to overcrowd the fryer, so as to not drop the heat of the oil. We fried the doughnuts until the dough was a golden brown color. We immediately transferred the hot fritters to rain paper towels to drain off the oil. This is what the zeppoles should look like coming out of the fryer.


    !!: We all love deep fried treats! How is oil cooking the dough?

  1. Great question! Hot oil, aka FAT, is used to quickly cook the dough. Cooking in oil allows for the dough to be quickly fried and achieve a crisp golden outer shell and maintain a soft, fluffy interior. Maillard browning creates the crunchy crisp exterior from the sugars the yeast have been breaking and consuming. The chemistry comes from submerging the dough (made with water) into the hot hydrophobic oil, allowing the water to immediately evaporate. The bubbling caused by the escaping water from the dough causes “forced convection” which cooks the food faster.

    Perfectly golden brown!


Link to the frying video! Password is z3ppo73

4. We sprinkled them with confectioners’ sugar and serve hot with out cioccolata calda dipping sauce!

Before we move on, here is the chemistry behind the zeppole, in convenient video form, but also in text form at the bottom the page!

video: password is ledzeppole

Now onto the Italian hot chocolate, aka Cioccolata Calda!:

Cioccolata Calda:


  • 1 cup whole milk, divided
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons cornstarch
  • 4½ ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips


    1. In a small saucepan, we whisked together the milk, the cream and sugar. We set the saucepan over medium-low heat and cooked it until it starts to bubble around the edges.
    2. While the milk mixture was heating, we whisked together the remaining ¼ milk and the cornstarch until it was smooth. Once the milk mixture started bubbling around the edges, we added the milk and cornstarch mixture and whisked until it was heated through, this took about 1 minute.

!!: What is the point of starch in this recipe?Starch is used as a thickening agent in our Italian hot chocolate. The cornstarch interacts with the water molecules in the milk, trapping the water molecules which interact with the H+ atoms on one side of the starch chain and the O- atom on the other side of the starch chain via hydrogen bonding. With water trapped inside, a soft gel forms, creating a viscous liquid.

Adding the cornstarch slurry to the milk

3. We then added the the chocolate chips and whisked it together until it was smooth and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, and it did! This took about 5 minutes. Once it was thick, we removed it from the heat and poured it into our ramekins and served them with our zeppoles!

Back of the spoon=coated


And this is the finished dessert all together! Doesn’t it look delicious?

Perfect zeppole 🙂

And here is the conclusion video! The password is zeppolequeens

Thank you all for a great semester!

Test Run: Zeppoli con Ciocalatta Calda (Led Zeppole)

Things that went well:

The hot chocolate went off without a hitch and came out perfectly, it is thick, smooth, and luscious! It thickened perfectly and turned out amazing!

Things we discovered/What we will do differently next time:

When frying the zeppole, keep the basket submerged in the oil. Use the spatula like slotted spoon to drop the dough in. Fry dough for ~3 minutes.

Semi-sweet chocolate tastes delicious in this recipe and we are glad we did not have dark chocolate to use, and will use semi-sweet chocolate from now on!

We started hours before the lab, at 11AM, to make the dough! The dough used:

-2 cups of flour

-1 packet of yeast

-1 cup warm water

-a pinch of salt.

We combined these ingredients in a bowl and mixed it until everything was well incorporated. Then we put it in the fridge to rise until 2, when lab began.

Waiting to rise up!


First, we made the Ciocolatta Calda. To make this, we started by measuring out 4 and ½ ounces of semi-sweet chocolate chips, the recipe called for dark chocolate, but as we did not have any available, we improvised! And, actually we liked this more!

Next, we made our cornstarch slurry, we mixed ¼ cup of milk with 1 and ½ teaspoons of cornstarch. We took ¾ cup of milk and added 1 cup of heavy cream and 4 tablespoons of granulated sugar and heated it over medium low heat until bubbles formed around the edge of the pot. We then added the cornstarch slurry and let it thicken for about a minute, before adding the semi-sweet chocolate chips. We let this thicken for about 5 minutes and took it off the heat and transferred it to our glass measuring cup, and let it sit there and thicken while we made our zeppoli!

Adding the cornstarch slurry to the mix

Delicious 🙂

Once the hot chocolate was finished, we began with our zeppole! We filled the deep frier to the appropriate limit and used an ice cream scoop to make perfectly sized balls. At first we were lifting the fryer basket out of the oil and placing the dough in, but after a single batch made this way, we discovered that this led the zeppole to get stuck to the bottom of the basket and become difficult to remove. The next method we tried worked better: we left the basket submerged in oil and dropped the dough onto a slotted spoon. We then were able to shake the dough into the oil. Dough put in the oil this way ended up not getting stuck to the basket and turning into perfect zeppole! We let the zeppole fry for about 3 minutes until they were golden, and then took them out to drain them before dusting them with powdered sugar.

Frying away!

Golden perfection!



Basic Chemical Analysis:

  1. Yeast! Yeast was used to rise the dough to create soft and pillowy zeppole. It is the rising agent used in this recipe.
  2. Thickening. Cornstarch was used as a thicken agent in the Italian hot chocolate. Combining the cornstarch with the water in the milk allowed for the starch and water to intermingle and become trapped, creating a more viscous liquid.
  3. Fat/frying. Fat in the form of vegetable oil was used to fry the zeppole. Food added to hot oil dehydrates, and via Malliard reactions, sugars and proteins break down to create the delicious flavor! (Work cited:


This week, we made risotto, or as Brooke called it ‘boujee rice-a-roni.’ This is how we made it, and here are the ingredients you’ll need:


  • 1/2 medium onion, very finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed
  • 4 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1 cup arborio rice (this is a specific kind of rice, do not substitute)
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine (you may leave this out if you don’t like the taste)
  • 1 quart hot low-salt canned (or boxed liquid) chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 small package of saffron threads (equivalent to a quarter teaspoon).
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup finely grated parmesan, preferably Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1-2 handfuls of baby spinach
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


  • saucepan
  • liquid measuring cup
  • ladle or small measuring cup
  • large spoon
  • measuring cups and spoons
  • sharp knife

And here’s how it’s done!


  1. Warm the broth in the microwave until it is HOT but NOT boiling! We found this took a while, as the volume of liquid was pretty thick and it takes a lot of heat to dissipate throughout the broth.

    Microwaved chicken broth

  2. While this was happening, Brooke greased the saucepan with butter and added the onions, garlic, and saffron. We sauteed until the onions were translucent. Already the dish was smelling incredible, and we hadn’t added the key ingredient – the rice – yet!

    Looks great already 🙂


  3. Now we added the rice! We used arborio rice and gently coated it with butter
  4. Next we added everyone’s favorite ingredient, the wine, to the mixture and stirred until the wine was almost nearly evaporated.

    Adding the broth to the rice

  5. Time to get the risotto really rolling! We began adding the broth to the pot in 1/4 cup increments. Per the instructions we only added more broth once the previous cup had been nearly absorbed.
  6. Once all the broth was used up and had been absorbed by the rice, we removed the rice from the burner and marveled at how it came out! It looked (and smelled) amazing! The rice flowed smoothly like lava. We then threw in the spinach we had prepared per the package’s microwave instructions

    Creamy, delicious, and ready to eat!


  7. Lastly , we added cheese, salt, and pepper to taste. We used 1/2 cup of cheese because cheese is delicious and makes everything taste better.

And that’s it! We’re done!

Packed and ready to take home

Closeup of the sauce surrounding and coating the rice granules

the video! the password is ri$otto


1)When the stock (which is mostly water) gets absorbed, where is it going? What is chemically happening?

The water is being absorbed into the rice, mainly composed of starch. The water molecules weasel their way in between the starch polymers and create hydrogen bonds with the starch, effectively trapping the water inside and creating a gelled material.

2) When the rice gets “creamy and thick” you can see a thick opaque liquid surrounding the rice. What is that thick liquid made of? 

This is excess liquid being squeezed from the swollen rice granule. The rice is engorged with water and can’t hold all of it, thus some is expelled from the rice.

3) Can you make risotto like this with a high amylose, long-grain rice?

You can, but the end result won’t be as creamy as typical risotto due to the lack of gelation since there are not many amylose molecules for the water to create bonds between. 

4) We added spinach to your risotto. In addition to the bright green color, what are some nutritional advantages of adding spinach?

As moms everywhere say, spinach most famously contains iron, as well as many crucial vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A, B2,C, K, magnesium, calcium, and potassium.

Thanks for reading! Stop at Nonna Brooke’s kitchen again!

IA #3 – Pesto

½) Assumption/Dish

Pesto is a vibrant green paste used typically as a sauce for pasta and occasionally as a side for bread. Made with basil and olive oil, it is a light sauce perfect for the summer. I never really liked pesto much but have grown to appreciate more. I did not know how pesto was prepared either: I thought that fresh basil and olive oil were just ground together in a blender.

3) Chemical Analysis

            Basil is an aromatic herb that gives off a very distinct smell. Basil contains two types of molecules that contribute to its noticeable aroma: terpenes and phenolics. Terpenes contribute more floral, citrusy scents while phenolics provide warmer scents that we associate with baking such as vanilla. Basil contains two terpenes (cineole and linalool) and one phenolic (eugenol). Due to the presence of more terpenes, basil gives off a fresh and herbaceous scent.

The pesto recipe I have been following for this assignment lists these ingredients:

  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves (no stems)
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts OR walnuts
  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

The only water in this recipe comes from the basil and the garlic. Terpenes do not dissolve readily in water. Additionally, terpenes are volatile and evaporate readily when heated. Pesto is not heated either. Due to the lack of heat and water applied to the dish and the nature of terpenes themselves, pesto is very aromatic and enticing to smell.

4) Cultural Analysis

            Basil has been a popular herb since antiquity. Many cultures around the world revered basil for different reasons: in Egypt, mummies were often embalmed with basil, and in Greece, basil was synonymous with mourning. Basil was associated with lovers in Rome. This idea of basils being equated with love and fertility seems to be present, albeit in a strange way, in the story of Lisabetta and her basil, which grows in a pot in which she has buried her lover’s head.  Across the world in India, basil was considered protection and planted around temples and other religious sites and was considered sacred to the gods. Needless to say, basil held significant cultural value across the planet.

Pesto originated in the Italian city of Genoa and emerged around the 16th century. Pesto’s ingredients have barely changed since its conception: basil, garlic, olive oil, parmesan, and pine nuts are still the core ingredients to the recipe, with the pine nuts being the most common substitution for other nuts. Pesto comes from the Genoese word pestâ, meaning “to pound” or “to crush”, referring to the traditional way of preparing pesto by grinding the ingredients with a mortar and pestle.

Pesto being prepared the traditional way with a pestle and mortar


5) Integration

The first thing one notices about pesto is its magnificent and powerful smell. While we know today there is no harm in smelling pesto and that the scent comes from the presence of terpenes and phenolics, many people during medieval times believed that smelling basil could lead to an infestation of scorpions in the brain among other things. (Yes, really. Scorpions.) Basil may not hold the power to infest one’s brain with scorpions or to make them fall in love and be fertile, but basil does have the power to entice us to eat it with the ‘magical’ power of its terpenes and phenolics.




Works Cited



Figuring Out Food #3

This time we focus on food additives and vitamins. Once again, we look at S’mores Poptarts. Here is our familiar nutrition label:


  1. Some of the food additives in this product are xanthan gum, certain dyes for coloring, thiamin hydrochloride (Vitamin B1), riboflavin (Vitamin B2), folic acid, sugar, gelatin, baking soda. Xanthan gum is used as a ‘fat replacer’ to provide good mouth-feel, and is also used as a stabilizer, along with gelatin, to provide a uniform texture and also increase mouth-feel. Vitamins B1 and B2, as well as folic acid are nutrients added to replace vitamins and minerals lost in processing, and to add nutrients that are needed in a healthy diet. Sugar is obviously used as a sweetener (who wants to eat straight up unsweetened flour?).Baking soda is a leavening agent, allowing the baked good to rise.  Coloring dyes are used to enhance the appearance of the product.

Thiamin mononitrate, aka Vitamin B1. According to the NIH, thiamin is crucial to energy metabolism, and therefore in the growth, development, and function of cells. The vitamin has a short half-life, so people need to intake thiamin constantly. Thiamin deficiency causes beriberi, whose symptoms include loss of appetite, weakness, pain in the limbs, shortness of breath, and swollen feet or leg.

Riboflavin, aka Vitamin B2, is a critical component in 2 enzymes: flavin mononucleotide (FMN; aka riboflavin5-phosphate) and flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD). These enzymes are important in energy production: the life cycle of cells, and the metabolism of fats, steroids, and drugs. The conversion of the amino acid tryptophan to niacin requires FAD. As if Riboflavin wasn’t doing a lot already, it helps maintain normal levels of  homocysteine, an amino acid in the blood.

3. The ingredients contributing sugar are sugar, dextrose, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup solids, molasses, cocoa, and milk chocolate. Simple sugars and starch polymers are likely to be present in the dextrose, corn syrups, cocoa, and even molasses, due to it being literally a bottle of refined sugar. More complex sugars would be found in the milk chocolate.

Ingredients contributing fiber include whole wheat fiber (there is not much in this product). This is soluble fiber.


15 grams of carbohydrates=one serving of them. 1 pastry contains 36 carbohydrates. This mean that in one serving of poptart, you are getting 2. 36/15=2.4, so you are getting 2.4 servings of carbohydrate per serving. . –> info on thiamin . –> info on riboflavin <– carbs/serving


IA #2 – Everyone’s Favorite Appetizer


½ ) Assumption/Dish

Bread and olive oil is one of the most common (and most delicious) appetizers in an Italian restaurant. This is essentially the Italian version of bread and butter at a restaurant, which I honestly don’t care to eat that much. However, for whatever reason unbeknownst to me at the time, I actually enjoy the combination of bread and olive oil on bread. Olive oil also was not something you ate like butter: most of the time, you didn’t just put olive oil on other foods. As for the dish itself, it is incredibly simple, consisting of just bread and olive oil, yet it is filling and tasty, as bread and butter can be considered to be.

Bread and olive oil dipping accompaniment

3) Chemical Analysis

Olive oil and butter are both fats – olive oil obviously coming from a plant and butter typically coming from an animal, usually a cow. What makes the simple combination of fat on bread so delicious? Flavors dissolve well in fat, so the natural fruity flavors from the olive permeate throughout the oil and pair well with the simple flavors and texture of the bread. Olive oil differs from butter in multiple ways, besides their source. Clearly, olive oil is liquid, and it is mainly composed of cis unsaturated fats (about 85% cis unsaturated fats and 15% saturated fats). Cis [unsaturated] fat molecules are unable to ‘stack’ easily, thus the molecules are further apart, creating a liquid fat. In contrast, butter is 50% saturated and 50% unsaturated fats, and usually a solid.

Additionally, due to olive oil being a liquid, the fat is able to seep through the porous bread and suffuse through the bread with a relatively little amount of oil as compared to butter, which is typically applied to bread with a knife and spread. However, since butter does not generally seep into the bed, most people (myself included) end up caking the butter on in order to enjoy the sweet and rich flavor of butter.

4) Cultural Analysis

Olive oil has been used in Italy since before the Roman Empire. Highly valued, olive oil was considered a staple of the diet in the Roman Empire, along with bread, and given out for free to the peasants. Peasants would have almost certainly eaten bread and olive oil, as we still do thousands of years later. The uses of this oil went beyond eating as well. Rancid olive oil, known as lampante, or lamp oil, was used to light lamps at night. Wealthier patrons of Roman baths could have olive oil applied and scraped off before bathing to freshen the skin ( Olive oil, as well as bread, also gained status as a sacred instrument in with the spread of Christianity through the Roman Empire and the rise of Roman Catholicism. In the Catholic church, oil is used in the anointing of a child or an adult at Baptism, as a sign of being consecrated to the Holy Spirit in Confirmation, and as God giving grace and strength to the ill in the Anointing of the Sick. The oil used in Baptism and the Anointing of the Sick is pure olive oil, whereas the chrism oil used in Confirmation is pure olive oil mixed with balsam oil. (

A carbonized loaf of bread from Pompeii. Notice the bread stamp on the bread. This was used by bakers to show the origin of the bread, quality, and state certification. This loaf might’ve been enjoyed with olive oil by a Pompeiian, had Vesuvius not erupted


A man receiving the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. This sacrament can be received many times throughout one’s lifetime. Notice the vial of olive oil the priest is holding to anoint the man.


5) Integration

Even ancient Romans knew what a dynamic combination bread and olive oil are, although for different reasons. While the Romans ate it simply for sustenance, we eat it because it is delicious. Much like how the oil permeates throughout the bread, the combination of oil and bread permeates throughout time, just as the uses of oil did as well.



Works Cited

“Oil in the Ancient World: Ancient Rome.” Welcome to Evoolution!,

“What Are Holy Oils?” Our Sunday Visitor Catholic Publishing Company,

Food Journal

On Tuesday of break, my family and I went to an Italian restaurant. Normally, I just order chicken parm, but I was feeling adventurous and decided to order [Pasta] con Sabia, a dish made with cappellini noodles, kalamata olives, roasted garlic, breadcrumbs, and olive oil. Earlier in the meal, we had enjoyed bread with olive oil (which I had been jokingly telling my family they should sample a la Extra Virginity by Tom Mueller), so I was looking forward to a different taste of olive oil.

The dish was delicious! I don’t eat pasta often, but when I do I enjoy marinara sauce or plain butter noodles, but the olive oil added a fruity taste to the pasta and each bite was incredibly tasty. Butter and olive oil are both fats, yet olive oil is lighter and fruity, as opposed to butter being richer and sweeter. I am looking forward to trying it again!


As an early St. Patrick’s Day meal, my mom prepared a corned beef! Corned beef is beef treated with large salt rocks, giving the beef a nice pink color and salty, almost pickled taste.

While drying dishes with my mom, I noticed that much of the bottom of the roaster used to cook the beef was covered with a wispy pink substance, as well as a brownish-pink liquid. This was the fat and other liquids that had dripped out of the beef during the slow cooking process. Despite this fat being removed from the beef, solid fat still remained on the slices we ate, and it was not as chewy or hard as fat from other meats (such as steak – I always cut the fat off of steak). Corned beef is a delicious St. Patty’s day tradition and it was interesting to think about it through a more scientific lens.


IA #2

1) Protein is a sequenced chain of peptide bonds made of amino acid. They are essential building blocks for life and make up much of a body’s structure, and are one of the three main macronutrients (the others being fat and carbohydrates)

2) S’mores poptarts contribute 3g of protein/one pastry (a single serving) according to this nutrition label:

However, the FDA website specifies quantity of a substance/100 grams, so they list the protein content of a POUCH of poptarts (2 pastries/pouch) as 5.82 grams. Each poptart is by itself is 52 grams.

3) Ingredients that contribute to the protein include the flour, containing glutenin and gliadin.

4) According to the aforementioned nutrition label, there are 4 calories/gram of protein. If a serving size of one poptart has 3 grams of protein, that means 12 calories are contributed to the calorie amount. You can tell this by looking at the calories per gram listing under the %DV and multiplying the number of grams of protein by the number of calories/gram (3g protein/serving x 4 calories/gram of protein=12 calories)



  1. Fat is one of the primary macronutrients needed for survival (along with proteins and carbohydrates), and is composed of a glyceride and fatty acid. Most fats we eat are triglycerides, made of a glycerol ‘backbone’ and 3 fatty acid chains.

2) This food is contributing 8% of ones DV of fat. This means 8% of the fat you need daily can be attained by consuming one s’mores poptart.

3) Ingredients that contribute to the fat content include palm oil and egg whites, which contribute the saturated and unsaturated fats.

4) This food contains 1.5g of saturated fat, 2g of polyunsaturated fat, and 1g of monounsaturated fat. This food contains 0g of trans fat which has been linked to heart disease. Saturated fats typically come from animals, whereas unsaturated come from plants. Unsaturated also points to the addition of hydrogen atoms to the fat bond.

5) Poptarts contain 9 calories per gram. Using the simple multiplication used to find the protein, we find that poptarts have:

1.5g saturated fat x 9 calories=13.5 calories/gram of saturated fat

2g polyunsaturated fat x 9 calories=18 calories/gram polyunsaturated fat

1g monounsaturated fat x 9 calories=9 calories/gram of monounsaturated fat.


You can tell this by checking the nutrition label below %DV where it lists calories per gram and utilizing simple math.

Have you curd of me?: Mozzarella Lab

Another week, another recipe! This week we made mozzarella cheese – delicious on its own, but even better battered, fried, and dipped in marinara <3

Here are the ingredients to make the cheese:

  • 1/2 and 1/8 cup bottled (NOT TAP) distilled water
  • 1/2 gallon milk, raw, pasteurized whole or pasteurized 2%, not ultra-pasteurized.
  • 3/4 tsp teaspoon citric acid
  • 1/8 rennet tablet or 1/8 teaspoon liquid rennet (Not Junket rennet)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

And here are the utensils you’ll need:

  • one large stock pot
  • two medium bowls
  • strainer
  • kitchen thermometer
  • disposable cheese cloth
  • Rubber kitchen gloves (as in the kind for washing dishes)

Onto the process!:

  1. First, prepare the citric acid Measure out ½ cup of distilled water and stir ¾ teaspoons of citric acid into the water. Stir until the citric acid is completely dissolved. We set this aside and moved on to…
  2. …preparing the rennet! Measure out ⅛ cup of distilled water and add ⅛ rennet tablet or ⅛ teaspoon of liquid rennet. We used a tablet in this recipe. Stir until dissolved and set this aside.
  3. In your large stock pot, measure out ½ gallon of milk (for those like me who forgot, a ½ gallon is 2 quarts=4 pints=8 cups). Stir in the citric acid solution and set the pot on the stove on a medium-high heat and stir gently until the mixture reaches 90 degrees.
  4. After this, remove the pot from the burner and gently stir in the rennet solution. Count to 30 to make sure the rennet is properly incorporated! Let the pot sit undisturbed for 5 minutes or more to allow the milk to set
  5. After this, your milk should be semisolid and look a little like tofu. Score the milky mixture into the shape of a grid (throwback to the coordinated planes of algebra class!). Make sure the knife touches the bottom of the pot as you cut. You should get something that looks like this:
    Looks perfect enough to plot a parabola on 🙂
  6. Unfortunately, our beautiful grid won’t last. Put the pot back on the burner and warm the curds to 105 degrees. Stir gently while doing this, but be careful not to break the curds into small pieces. Soon, the curds will separate from the yellow whey, like so
  7. Remove curds from the heat and stir some more again.
  8. Next separate the curds from the whey. You can use a slotted spoon or a strainer, just be sure that the curds get into a microwave safe bowl and that the whey is kept for later
  9. Microwave the curds for 30 seconds. Drain any remaining whey, and put on some rubber gloves and fold the curds over themselves a few times to achieve a consistency like cottage cheese
  10. Microwave the curds in 10-20 second bursts until the internal temperature reaches 135°F. The curds need to reach this temperature in order to stretch properly.
  11. Next, sprinkle the salt over the cheese and squish it with your fingers to incorporate, like this. Use both hands to do this consistently! It will start to tighten, become firm, and take on a glossy sheen

    When this happens, you are ready to shape the mozzarella. Make one large ball, two smaller balls, or several bite-sized bocconcini. Try not to over-work the mozzarella.

  12. The mozzarella can be eaten immediately or kept refrigerated for a week. To refrigerate, place the mozzarella in a small container. Mix a teaspoon of salt with a cup of cool whey (the leftover liquid) and pour this over the mozzarella. Cover and refrigerate.

Here is a picture of the interior of our pasteurized cheese!

and here is the video! password is mozzarella


  1. What are curds and whey? provide a chemical explanation

Milk is an emulsion, with droplets of fat suspended in the watery components. Curds and whey are the components milk separates into! Curds are the hydrophobic fatty parts that have clumped together and are unable to be dissolved in water. Whey is the watery yellow liquid that we are left with after the curds has congealed.

  1. Why did you add “acid” to the milk? provide a chemical explanation.

Acid denaturation causes the curds and whey to separate! The protein in curds is made almost entirely of casein, which carries many negative charges. This makes casein particularly unstable when it comes in contact with acid. The three-dimensional protein structure has water-loving (hydrophilic) parts on the outside and water-hating (hydrophobic) part on the inside of the folded protein. The acid denatured protein coagulates with other unraveled protein and fat by sticking the exposed hydrophobic areas together. The coagulation makes soft lumps of insoluble protein and trapped fat.

  1. What is rennet? And what was the purpose of adding it?

Rennet, aka chymosin, is an enzyme derived from the stomachs of ruminant animals such as cows, goats, and sheep. Vegetable rennet is derived from a type of mold and is equivalent to animal derived rennet. Rennet is added to the mixture to allow the proteins in the milk to form curds and the rest to become the whey.

  1. Some of the class used “raw” milk today – that is, milk that has not been pasteurized, but was obtained personally by Dr. C from a certified, FDA approved farm and refrigerated continuously (for 2 days) until lab today. What differences could we expect from cheesemaking with raw milk?

Cheese made with raw milk has more flavor and will curdle more easily since it hasn’t been treated with high heat. Pasteurized milk, on the other hand, is more readily available but not produce as flavorful cheese due to being treated with high heat.

Integrative Assignment #1

½) Assumption/Dish

            A bread is a bread is a bread; at least, that is what I thought before making ciabatta in class. I could not tell the difference between a baguette or a loaf of Italian bread, and in general, all bread tasted essentially the same to me. I knew from the name that ciabatta was an Italian loaf (and indeed, where I live, ciabatta is sometimes sold in grocery stores as simply “Italian bread”). To me, ciabatta was just another bread and probably did not taste different from any other bread I had eaten before.


pictured: a tasty loaf of ciabatta made by brooke cohen and I


3) Chemical Analysis

            Ciabatta is a yeasted bread made with a sponge, or biga, that gives the dough an airy texture once baked. The flour used to make this bread in low in protein and the short kneading time creates a weak gluten network in the wet dough. Additionally, the incorporation of olive oil to the dough further inhibits gluten production due to the fact that the oil is hydrophobic and gluten needs water to form. One would not think that wet dough would be beneficial to baking a good bread, but in this case, the wet dough is used to inflate the bread like a balloon and trap the carbon dioxide gas the yeast “exhale” into the dough. This creates ciabatta’s large air pockets that are visible when the bread is sliced open!


4) Cultural Analysis

            In Italian, ciabatta means “slipper”, and the bread is named such for its apparent likeness to the footwear. “It is not clear where in Italy this kind of bread was first produced, and at least one type of ciabatta can be found in nearly every region of Italy” ( Ciabatta helped revitalize the Italian sandwich economy you did not know existed as well! Enter Arnaldo Cavallari, an Italian miller who created the ciabatta that has become popularized around and the world and is likely available in your local grocer. Looking to halt France’s inundation of the bread market, Cavallari “spent testing new dough mixes and bake-times, refining and adapting existing regional loaves and using his own mineral- and gluten-rich flour…he came up with Italy’s very own dedicated snack bread. He called it Ciabatta Polesano.” ( Like America’s Wonder Bread, ciabatta is a popular sandwich making staple pervasive in cuisine throughout the country.


5) Integration

            Bread was a necessity for life for the Italian peasant throughout history. This bread effectively uses very simple ingredients that peasant’s would have had on hand: flour, milk, olive oil, water, salt, and a source of yeast. Simple ingredients can cause the most amazing and harmonious chemical reactions and create a delicious product. It is strange to think that bread is a necessary food source, so thus atoms are a necessary food source for us, and that chemical reactions are the basis of the energy we have to go harvest the wheat, mill the flour, and gather the ingredients to make more bread. The need for bread causes incredibly reactions – ranging from the bread riots depicted in Alessandro Manzoni’s The Betrothed, to the chemical reactions in the bread we eat.




Works Cited

“Ciabatta Bread Facts.” Buy Organic Bread Online – Abigails Bakery in New Hampshire,

“The Secret Life of Ciabatta.” The Guardian, 26 Nov. 2017,