15 Surprisingly Delicious Ways to Use Chocolate Chips

iStock.com/bhofack2
iStock.com/bhofack2

We all know about the chocolate chip cookie—it’s been a bake sale standard since the 1940s. But there’s more you can do with chocolate chips than dump them in a bowl of plain batter and let them bake for 10 minutes or until crispy. On National Chocolate Chip Day (May 15th), show your appreciation for the tasty morsels in one of these creative ways.

1. Add chocolate chips to your chili.

No one said chocolate chips have to be relegated to dessert. There are chili recipes that call for semisweet chips mixed with beef, spices, vegetables, and Mexican beer.

2. Spread it on your face.

Some face masks call for liquefied dark chocolate—easy enough to make by melting down chocolate chips in the microwave—and are sometimes mixed with olive oil and/or egg yolk. Others involve blending the chocolate with different fruits like apples, bananas, and watermelon. Once the mask is ready, apply it for 15-20 minutes before washing it off with lukewarm water.

3. Sprinkle them over apples.

For a sweet alternative to nachos, you can cover apple slices with peanut butter, almond butter, Nutella, caramel, or your other favorite sweet spread, then sprinkle them with almonds, chocolate chips, and/or coconut. It’s an easy, delicious dessert.

4. Spell out words on cakes.

If frosting isn’t your thing but you still want to write “Congratulations!” on a cake, use mini chocolate chips to form the letters. Placing each one may be a bit time consuming, but the results will be appreciated.

5. Use it as body paint.

Don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it. Melt down chocolate chips then draw mustaches and beards on yourself and your friends. You’ll have the best selfies on the Internet. (Some recipes suggest adding a bit of alcohol.)

6. Make a natural hair treatment.

To make your hair extra silky, mix melted dark chocolate chips with water and apply it to your hair before showering. Rinse it off before you lather in the shampoo. For a fancier, fruitier version, mix melted dark chocolate chips, honey, and mashed banana. After letting it sit in your towel-wrapped hair for an hour, rinse it off and then wash your hair as you would normally.

7. Create a chocolate slide.

With enough melted chocolate chips, you can cover a giant tarp and make a super messy version of a water slide. It’ll need frequent refreshing, but on a hot enough day, you won’t have to worry about it cooling and getting crusty.

8. Include them in trail mix.

Any snack mix could benefit from the addition of a bit of chocolate chip sweetness. Add them to granola, dried fruit, and nuts and bag it to make an ideal on-the-go energy boost.

9. Kick your pudding pops up a notch.

Scoop a mix of cheesecake pudding, crushed wafer cookies, graham crackers, and chocolate chips into small paper bathroom cups. Then, stick a popsicle stick through the bottom and freeze until solid. Rip off the paper and enjoy!

10. Try chocolate kale cookies.

Kale and chocolate may not seem like an appetizing combination, but if the kale is hidden beneath the taste of cocoa powder, chocolate chips, sugar, vanilla, butter, and applesauce in thick cookie dough, even the kids won’t notice.

11. Blend into a smoothie.

Make a mouthwatering tropical smoothie with coconut milk, semisweet chocolate chips, yogurt, bananas, vanilla, and ice. All you have to do is throw them into the blender and let it spin until the texture’s to your liking.

12. Make matcha and white chocolate chip cookies.

Matcha (a powder derived from green tea leaves) meets its match in these white chocolate chip cookies. The batter is made from other easy to find ingredients like brown sugar, white sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, baking soda, flour, unsalted butter, and salt, and has a total prep time of about 25 minutes.

13. Fondue everything!

To be extra fancy, melt down chocolate chips and pour the liquid into a chocolate fountain. Once that’s good and flowing, dip strawberries, bananas, pretzels, graham crackers, pineapple, and marshmallows into the chocolate. Just make sure you have napkins at the ready—it gets very drippy.

14. Use them as eyes on a snowman.

Tiny snowmen (or women) need tiny eyes. When pieces of coal or buttons just won’t cut it, use chocolate chips to decorate your chilly creature. Be prepared to replace them frequently—chocolate doesn’t last long in the wild. (For a tastier version, make your snowmen out of cupcakes or cookies!)

15. Bake bacon and chocolate chip cookies.

If you’re looking to get more protein from your cookies, consider adding some candied bacon. Make the batter from flour, baking soda, butter, white and brown sugar, vanilla extract, egg, and semisweet chocolate chips. Add in the candied bacon and bake for around 15 minutes.

10 Things You Might Not Know About Wine

iStock/MarkSwallow
iStock/MarkSwallow

Between the vine and the liquor store, plenty of secrets are submerged in your favorite bottle of wine. Here, Tilar J. Mazzeo, author of Back Lane Wineries of Sonoma, spills some of the best. Here are a few things you might not know about wine.

1. Digital eyes are everywhere in today's vineyards.

Certain premium estates in Bordeaux and Napa are beginning to look a little more like army bases—or an Amazon.com warehouse. They’re using drones, optical scanners, and heat-sensing satellites to keep a digital eye on things. Some airborne drones collect data that helps winemakers decide on the optimal time to harvest and evaluate where they can use less fertilizer. Others rove through the vineyard rows, where they may soon be able to take over pruning. Of course, these are major investments. 

2. Modern vineyards also bury a lot of cow skulls. 

They’re not everywhere, but biodynamic farming techniques are on the rise among vintners who don’t want to rely on chemicals, and this is one trick they’ve been known to use to combat plant diseases and improve soil PH. It’s called Preparation No. 505, and it involves taking a cow’s skull (or a sheep’s or a goat’s), stuffing it with finely ground oak chips, and burying it in a wet spot for a season or two before adding it to the vineyard compost.

3. Ferocious foliage is a vintner's secret weapon.

The mustard flowers blooming between vineyard rows aren’t just for romance. Glucosinolates in plants like radishes and mustard give them their spicy bite, and through the wonders of organic chemistry, those glucosinolates also double as powerful pesticides. Winemakers use them to combat nematodes—tiny worms that can destroy grape crops.

4. Roses in a vineyard are the wine country equivalent to the canary in the coal mine. 

Vintners plant roses among their vines because the flowers get sick before anything else in the field. If there’s mildew in the air, it will infect the roses first and give a winemaker a heads-up that it’s time to spray.

5. Birds of prey help protect the grapes.

Glasses of red wine and charcuterie
iStock/Natalia Van Doninck

Small birds like blackbirds and starlings can clear out 20 percent of a crop in no time. But you know what eats little birds? Big birds. Falconry programs are on the rise in vineyards from California to New Zealand. Researchers have found that raptors eat a bird or two a day (along with a proportion of field mice and other critters) and cost only about as much to maintain as your average house cat.

6. Small bugs become big problems in wine tasting rooms.

Winemakers are constantly seeking ways to manage the swarms of Drosophila melanogaster that routinely gather around the dump buckets in their swanky showrooms. You know these pests as fruit flies, and some vintners in California are exploring ways to use carnivorous plants to tackle the problem without pesticides. Butterworts, sundews, and pitcher plants all have sweet-sounding names, but the bug-eating predators are fruit fly assassins, and you’ll see them decorating tasting rooms across wine country.

7. Wine needs to be filtered. 

Winemaking produces hard-to-remove sediments. Filters can catch most of the debris, but winemakers must add “fining agents” to remove any suspended solids that sneak by. (Unwanted compounds in the wine bind with the fining agents so they can be filtered and removed.) Until it was banned in the 1990s, many European vintners used powdered ox blood to clean their wines. Today, they use diatomaceous earth (the fossilized remains of hard-shelled algae), Isinglass (a collagen made from fish swim bladders), and sometimes bentonite (volcanic clay). Irish moss and egg whites are also fine wine cleaners.

8. Wine is ever so slightly radioactive (that's a good thing).

About 5 percent of the premium wine sold for cellaring doesn’t contain what the label promises. So how do top-shelf buyers avoid plunking down serious cash on a bottle of something bunk? Most elite wine brokerages, auction houses, and collectors use atomic dating to detect fraud. By measuring trace radioactive carbon in the wine, most bottles can be dated to within a year or two of the vintage.

9. MRIs can determine the fine from the funk.

Even with atomic dating, there are certain perils involved in buying a $20,000 bottle of wine. Leaving a case in the hot trunk of your car is enough to ruin it, so imagine what can happen over a couple of decades if a wine isn’t kept in the proper conditions. Back in 2002, a chemistry professor at University of California at Davis patented a technique that uses MRI technology to diagnose the condition of vintage wines. This technique may soon be used at airport security, meaning you’ll be able to carry on your booze.

10. Wines can be aged instantly.

If you end up with a bottle of plonk, Chinese scientists have developed a handy solution. Zapping a young wine with electricity makes it taste like something you’ve cellar aged. Scientists aren’t quite sure how it happens yet, but it seems that running your wine for precisely three minutes through an electric field changes the esters, proteins, and aldehydes and can “age” a wine instantly.

Taco Bell is Opening a Taco-Themed Hotel in Palm Springs This Summer

Taco Bell Corp.
Taco Bell Corp.

For some, having a Taco Bell and its cheese-filled menu within driving distance is enough. For others, only a Taco Bell destination vacation will do. This August, the popular fast food chain is going to convert an existing Palm Springs, California, hotel into a burrito-filled Taco Bell getaway for a limited time.

The Bell Hotel will have all the usual amenities—rooms, food, gifts, and a salon—operating with a taco-themed cosmetic facelift. The nail salon, for example, will feature Taco Bell-inspired nail art. (Though we're not entirely sure what that consists of—possibly nails that resemble hot sauce packets.) The gift shop will feature Taco Bell apparel. Guests can also enjoy the standard variety of Taco Bell menu items. According to Thrillist, some new additions to their line-up are expected to be unveiled.

The as-yet-undisclosed hotel in Palm Springs will be operating as a Taco Bell partner for five nights total. As with pop-up stores and other publicity campaigns, the expectation is that guests will share their bizarre Taco Bell resort experience on social media and create some buzz around the brand. Taco Bell is no stranger to audacious marketing, as in the case of their Taco Bell Cantina in Las Vegas, which books weddings. Recently, the company also began making home deliveries via GrubHub.

The Bell Hotel website is now accepting sign-ups so fans can be notified when reservations open. The facility is expected to open August 9.

[h/t CNBC]

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