Introduction: Taste Changing Candy

About: My name is Britt Michelsen. I am a chemical engineer from Germany especially interested in computational fluid dynamics. To balance all the theoretical work, I like to make stuff in my free time
In this instructable I am going to show you, how to make candy, that will change your sensation of taste. This candy will start tasting sour at first and then gets a more sweet and cherry like flavour. The interesting part about it is, that your senses are tricked into believing, that the candy changes its flavour, even though it actually doesn't. It blocks out the taste bud receptors which are responsible for sour, bitter and acidic flavours.

You might have heard of the protein miraculin (wikipedia). It is a natural sugar substitute which can be found in the miracle berry and causes sour fruit to taste sweet. Its plant is difficult to grow and so the easiest way to get the protein is in the form of tablets. For its effect to take place it has to stay in contact with the tongue for as long as possible. Therefore the tablet has to slowly melt on the tongue and should be rolled around to get the best result. I figured that there should be a better way to ensure that the protein stays in contact with the tongue for as long as possible without having the annoying corn starch taste in the mouth. The result is this candy.

Not only is just a third of the amount of protein needed to get the same effect, but it also tastes a whole lot better. You can use this candy to prank your friends or to have a miracle berry party with them and try different sour and bitter food to see the difference (the effect will wear off after about 30 minutes). Believe me it is extremely funny to trick your senses this way. If you are interested in finding out more about the protein, take a look at this paper.

Instead of using "normal" sugar (which consists of monosaccharides such as glucose, fructose and galactose), we will be using isomalt sugar (wikipedia). I've listed the advantages and disadvantages of using isomalt in the following table:

advantages disadvantages
+ less hygroscopic: less sticky in humid conditions
+ no water needed for cooking
+ does not caramelize: doesn't get a yellowish colour
+ very clean and clear (sugar has a natural tint, isomalt doesn't)
+ can be reheated
+ doesn't crystallise as easy
+ no impurities have to be remove during cooking
+ less calories
- more expensive
- leaves less time to work with
- may upset the stomach if consumed in large quantities

As you can see in this case the advantages clearly outweigh the disadvantages.

Step 1: Stuff You Need

Ingredients (for about 9 bonbons)

  • 3 Miracle berry tablets (e.g. here: http://www.miracleberrypill.org/). I tried a different brand as well, but this one worked better
  • 1/2 cup of Isomalt sugar (e.g. on amazon.com)
  • 0.75-1 tsp of Citric acid
  • Food colouring (a few drops)
  • Aroma (a few drops) I used cherry, since it complements the sour taste quite well.
     
Equipment

  • Disposable gloves
  • Mortar and pestle
  • Silpad (e.g. on amazon.com )
  • Heat lamp (e.g. on amazon.com )
  • Small pot
  • Candy thermometer
  • Scissors

Step 2: Cooking the Sugar

The set back about miraculin is, that it is a protein and therefore it can't be cooked (it breaks down at about 160°F (Thanks to Zach from mberry.us for this information)). The trick is to add it after cooking the sugar. So make sure to keep it out of the heat for as long as possible.

Since we are using isomalt the cooking process is a lot easier. You wont have to remove any impurities, just heat it up to about 145-150°C (~ 290-300°F). Make sure that it has melted entirely and let it cool off to about 125 °C (~ 255°F).

Then add 0.75 to 1 teaspoon of citric acid (depending on how sour you want them to be) and use a spoon to stir the mixture.

Step 3: Let's Add Some Colour

Pour the mixture onto your silpat. I tried making the candy without a heat lamp and it just didn't turn out as good, so I suggest, that you use one, too. It will make the whole process a lot easier.

Make sure to wear the disposable gloves, since they will prevent the sugar from sticking to your fingers.

Wait, till the mixture has started to set and carefully make a small dent into it with your finger (Please be careful and don't burn your finger!). Add a few drops of aroma and food colouring to it.  As you can see I wanted to make a two coloured candy, that's why a used a knife to separate the mixture before it started to set.
At this point the sugar is still pretty hot, so use a knife to knead the aroma and colour into it. You can of course go with as many different colours, as you like.

Step 4: Add the Miracle Berry Powder

In order to add the miracle berry powder you will have to pulverise it. Use a mortar and pestle to do so.

Then flatten your sugar mass (it should have about 50°C (122°F) at this point) and add a small layer of powder on top of it. Knead it in and apply an other layer, until all the powder is inside your candy. Make sure, that the sugar is not too hot, or the miraculin will break down and the effect will not work any more.

Step 5: Forming the Candy

To add a nice sheen to the candy start pulling on both ends, fold it in the middle and pull again. Once you are happy with its appearance form it into rolls, as shown in the third picture and press them together. They will immediately stick to each other so make sure to align them right.

Simply use scissors, to cut them to the correct size. Enjoy them and have a lot of fun.

Hint: In order to clean your pot, thermometer and knife just place them in water and leave them over night. Otherwise it is pretty annoying to remove the sugar from everything even if you are using hot water.
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