How Social Media Creates Loneliness

I haven’t updated in a while, but I found this, ironically, via Facebook today. It goes through how social media can help us feel connected yet make us vulnerable to feeling alone.

Dragon Ball Z Creme Brulee Cakeballs

Introduction:

It’s been such a long time since I have baked anything! To get back into my baker’s groove, I decided to try out the Dragon Ball Z creme brulee cakeballs recipe by Ro Pansino from the awesome YouTube show NERDY NUMMIES! It’s a rather long process, but I needed a fun project to keep me awake as I try to adjust my sleep schedule for my graveyard shifts. Plus, it’s always been my dream to gather the DRAGON BALLS to save Earth!

Dragonballs

Figure. Wish-granting dragon time!

I followed the video pretty much step by step without any deviations, but Ro makes everything look so easy! Maybe I’m rusty from my pro-baking days, but I had a few problems, which I will be sure to highlight just in case anyone else needs a bit of help.

Working Notes:

Part I – Making the Creme Brulee

I thought making the creme brulee would be the hardest and most stressful part! People would think otherwise, with such simple ingredients, including cream, vanilla, sugar, and egg yolks, and a name literally translating to “burnt cream,” you would think it would be so easy and effortless to make!

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Figure. My almost curdled creme brulee in the bain marie. This type of set-up according to Wiki is also used for science experiments!

Ro teaches you set up a “bain marie.” You just put your liquid creme brulee in it’s cooking bowl. Then, lay a towel down in a baking pan and fill halfway with hot water that had previously been boiling. Finally, you put the entire thing in the oven to bake.

The key to good creme brulee is making sure that it doesn’t curdle, which  can be difficult.

curdle: (verb) to form a coagulated layer

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/curdle

A curdled creme brulee can be denoted by bubbles forming on the top while baking in the oven, and sometimes some brown spots. It can be caused by a couple of things.

  1. Adding the hot cream mixture to the egg yolks and sugar too quickly
    Not allowing the temperatures to adjust or “temper” ends up cooking the eggs and creating a non-homogenous mixture. So you may have a firm layer on top, but liquid past that top layer when you are done cooking.
  2. Cooking it too quickly in the oven.
    This almost happened to me. This is the first time I am baking in my new apartment, and I did not realize that my electric oven heats up much more quickly and aggressively than previous gas ovens that I have had in the past. Luckily, I was able to get away with just a few bubbles on the top of my creme brulee. Cooking too quickly can be caused by too high baking heat or the water being too hot for the bain marie (believe it or not).

Part II – Making cakepop mix!

I haven’t used a cake mix in a box in YEARS. I had been exploring from scratch recipes since for the past few years that I almost forgot how awesome and convenient these cake mixes are, especially when you want to save some time so that you can experiment on non-traditional things, like this one!

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Figure. My slightly browned and lop-sided insta-cake!

After the cake is made, all you have to do is crumble it up with your creme brulee.  Ro had said to not worry about making perfect circles because after freezing you can reshape them. I sorta agree with this, but I found that removing wrinkles is pretty hard when they are frozen.

Part III – Sugar Dip!

Making caramel is pretty easy, but it took me three tries to do it right!  I almost gave up and was going to buy chocolate melts to eat the rest of the cake balls before they went bad, but I was determined to succeed!

First attempt: overboiled/burnt caramel and almost set a fire alarm off at 3am when it started to smoke

Second attempt: made caramel fine, but it was too viscous! Also, I was dumb and put them on a plate to dry, and of course they got stuck. Then when trying to remove caramel covered cakeballs, I smashed the coating and cut multiple fingers with the sharp caramel shards. My right thumb is still upset with the gash I got. Plus my kitchen floor was sticky for days.

Third attempt: FINAL ATTEMPT.

Things I have learned about caramel making:

  • Make sure sugar is dissolved before allowing mixture to go to a boil.
  • A pain to clean later, but try to ocassionally mix the caramel as it cooks so you can evenly see the brown color (your indicator to stop cooking it and throw it into an ice bath).
  • Be patient and keep your eye on it! It too me way longer than 10 minutes of boiling, which the video instructed.
  • If I were to make this entire recipe of cakeballs in one sitting, I would probably need to multiple the recipe by 1.5 to get good dipping stuff.

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Figures. Making caramel!

Just in case you care curious about this awesome color change of sugar as it’s heated, here is a bit of science:

Like all things, sugar is made up of elements: Carbon, Hydrogen, and Oxygen to be exact. When heat is applied, a reaction occurs where the sugar grabs and combines with oxygen in the air. This is is an exothermic reaction where heat is released, and the result is a color change from white to black.

A great link for this science experiment in action: http://www.education.com/science-fair/article/heating-sugar/

Back to the recipe!

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Figure. My cake balls ready to be frozen!

Things I have learned about dipping:

  • Try to have the balls frozen when you dip! I had a lot of casualties fall of their sticks. Unfortunately, frozen cake balls will probably form little bubbles in the caramel coat. Also, as the cake balls thaw, they will pull away from their pretty caramel coat.
  • I didn’t have styrofoam when I did my final try of this recipe (when I did have styrofoam, it fell over form the weight of the cake balls). I was able to get away with using some tall mugs and empty pasta jars!
  • Also, I decided to get extra long sticks. I was going to originally cut them in half, but then after almost burning myself with caramel during the unsuccessful attempts, I decided to take advantage of the length!

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Figure. My creative solution for allowing my caramel to harden, undisturbed.

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Figure. Lol you could tell that was the last one. I was getting impatient and my caramel was hardening 😦 If this happens to you but you still have to cover some cake balls, remember you can always throw the dip on low heat to get it all liquid-y again!

Part IV – Decoration!

I found this groovy multi-sprinkle dispensing device at Walmart for $5.

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Figure. All I wanted was the red stars, but I guess I had to get them all!

And the final product!

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Figure. TA-DAAAAAAAA!

And, if you are not a fan of Dragon Ball Z, this type of baking project could probably be applied to other things. Like if you were to have a Jurassic Park themed party, why not use this to make the fossilized amber? Just a thought!

Conclusion:

Overall, this was a fun experiment, but I don’t know if I will do this again unless someone willingly asks me too haha. To be honest, I don’t even like caramel that much. And if I am going to eat creme brulee, I’d rather have it as a potent custard 🙂

Still, Ro is awesome for coming up with this video, and I had a lot of fun. She must also have an amazing dentist and some hard teeth because she was able to chomp right into those caramel covered cake balls. I have to flip them to the underside where the stick used to be  (the most vulnerable spot!) and smack it with a spoon so it can explode into bite sized pieces (as if dismantling a hard shelled beetle. EW).

Anyways, go and start your YouTube Geek Week right and try some Nerdy Nummies recipes!

References & Troubleshooting:

Baking idea: 

http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjwmbv6NE4mOh8Z8VhPUx1Q

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZrKjIvuDEOM

Creme Brulee:

http://indirectheat.blogspot.com/2009/11/creme-brulee.html

http://www.cheftalk.com/t/38412/creme-brulee-help

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bain-marie

Caramel Dip:

http://www.wikihow.com/Caramelize-Sugar

http://www.dominosugar.com/bakers-circle/newsletter-archive/sugar-heat-caramel

Everyday Teratogens – Another Video Project

Remember this Nitric Oxide video I made for Toxicology I class in Fall term? I made another one for my Toxicology II class! This time it covers “Everyday Teratogens,” a topic about chemicals in products normal  folks like us come into contact with on a daily basis, but may not realize have the potential to cause birth defects in future generations. Please enjoy!

TED Talks: Misogyny, Video Games & Cyber Bullying

A very interesting video was posted on my Facebook yesterday morning from a former roommate who knew of my love for video games.

About TED Talks

I can’t believe I have never mentioned TED Talks on this blog before, but if you are unfamiliar these are videos about “Technology, Entertainment, and Design.” Their motto is quite simply to spread ideas worth inciting discussion. I highly suggest you to look at their website and Youtube channel. I guarantee that you find a topic that will captivate you.

Natalie Tran aka Community Channel

I initially found TED Talks a few years ago via Natalie Tran of YouTube’s Community Channel. She creates funny yet smart videos that are satirical, random, and run by a one woman show. As she mentions in her TED Talk, she steps back and observes the “awkward moments” or small parts of life in her videos. She also points out some issues of being a funny female on internet. Please watch Natalie Tran’s TED Talk here.

TEDxWomen 2012: Misogyny, Video Games, Cyber Bullying

This is a great way to transition to the into video that my old roomie posted.

This is Anita Sarkeesian. She is a media critic who wanted to take a critical look at female representation in video games. She was met with a lot of hostility and online abuse, much of which can be classified as misogyny. Listen to her TED talk as she can explain and present her case in a much more captivating way than I could write.

Enjoy!

Other TED Talk Fave

Finally, I just want to insert this TED Talk I watched in Philosophy/Ethics class last year. It’s about how Google and Social networks use algorithms to generate search results and ads catered to  you. Some crazy stuff if you think about how the internet is evolving and becoming more aware of each of its users.

Concluding Remarks

I just want to urge again to try watching and sharing TED Talks. They are really interesting topics that are educational. The talks vary in length and even accessible via free apps for smart phones and ipods/iphones. Just in case you want something new to pass the time when  Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja, and whatever is floating  your game app boat today gets boring 🙂

All About Nitric Oxide – Video Project

Comp broken. Spilled coffee on it during early morning interview. UGH. Typing painful. Takes forever. Meanwhile, here’s my final Toxicology class project if you are interested.

Songs of Science on YouTube

A pretty quick update. School is driving me insane with these crazy deadlines every single day. I’m being smacked by quizzes, exams, projects, reports, posts, ect. It’s a sad day when I’m looking forwards to a finals week because at least all I have to do is studying my brains out. Right now I’m finding the will to go on with studying for my Stats II exam.

I’m also trying to STILL find an internship. That way I am employed so I can either have money to pay bills or unpaid experience to help me find a job after some reasonable time after I graduate.  But at least I’m done with interviews for now. Did I mention I’m trying to find a new home in a few weeks so I won’t be a hobo by my 22nd birthday?

Anyways, I thought I would share some songs of science I found on YouTube. The first is photosynthesis set to Ke$ha, which I am totally using to study for my Microbio class (or at least jam out to like a nerd).



The second video is called the “Meiosis Square Dance.” It seems to be a really old school video, but it’s pretty entertaining. I’ve known meiosis basics since 7th grade, so it won’t be useful for my Genetics final. But the music reminds me of my high school gym class.



What? Didn’t you people take square dancing to fulfill one of your gym rhythm requirements at school?

No…?

The Oreo Cheesecake Cupcake & “Hey Ya” Acoustic Cover

So the other night, Aniket & I decided to make some oreo cheese cake cupcakes. I really wish I took a picture, but I ran out of time because I had Emergency Dept volunteer training with Naomi on Sunday 🙂

Basically it looks like this:

The recipe we used is available at this website: http://www.grouprecipes.com/64332/easy-oreo-cheesecake-cupcakes.html

We added our own twist and used melted white chocolate, whipped strawberry frosting, and patriotic colored sprinkles (wtf).  It was a quick mix & bake and turned out deliciously 🙂

While waiting, he also showed me this video of an acoustic cover of Outkast’s “Hey Ya.”

(And no, that is not the guy from “The Hangover” haha.)

I absolutely love the original version (love Andre 3000), but this toned down and mellow take on it is just so beautiful. The show “Scrubs” during one of their last seasons did a pretty great rendition.

Enjoy!