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.

12 Strange-But-Real Ice Cream Flavors

ipekata/iStock via Getty Images
ipekata/iStock via Getty Images

I scream, you scream, we all scream for … horse flesh ice cream? Okay, so maybe “we all" don’t. But some people do. A lot of people, in fact. Lobster, foie gras, and ghost pepper, too. Next time you’re craving an ice-cold cone, why not step out of your vanilla/chocolate comfort zone to try one of these 12 strange-but-real ice cream flavors.

1. Horse Flesh

There are two dozen attractions within Tokyo’s indoor amusement park, Namja Town, but it would be easy to spend all of your time there pondering the many out-there flavors at Ice Cream City, where Raw Horse Flesh, Cow Tongue, Salt, Yakisoba, Octopus, and Squid are among the flavors that have tickled (or strangled) visitors' taste buds.

2. Pickled Mango

As one of the country’s most decorated ice cream makers, Jeni Britton Bauer—proprietor of Ohio-based Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams—is constantly pushing the boundaries of unique treats, as evidenced by her lineup of limited edition flavors, including last summer's Pickled Mango (a cream cheese-based ice cream with a slightly spicy mango sauce made of white balsamic vinegar, white pepper, allspice, and clove) and this year's Goat Cheese With Red Cherries.

3. Corn on the Cob

Since opening Max & Mina’s in Queens, New York in 1998, brothers/owners Bruce and Mark Becker have created more than 5000 one-of-a-kind ice cream flavors, many of them adapted from their grandfather’s original recipes. Daily flavor experiments mean that the menu is ever-changing, but Corn on the Cob (a summer favorite), Horseradish, Garlic, Pizza, Lox, and Jalapeño have all made the lineup.

4. Foie Gras

New York City's OddFellows takes the "odd" in its name seriously, and has become synonymous with experimental flavors. Since opening their doors in 2013, they've concocted more than 300 different kinds of the cold stuff—including a Foie Gras varietal.

5. Pear and Blue Cheese

“Salty-sweet” is the preferred palette at Portland, Oregon-based Salt & Straw, where sugar and spice blend together nicely with flavors like Strawberry Honey Balsamic Strawberry With Cracked Pepper and Pear With Blue Cheese, a well-balanced mix of sweet Oregon Trail Bartlett Pears mixed with crumbles of Rogue Creamery's award-winning Crater Lake Blue Cheese. Yum?

6. Ghost Pepper

“Traditional” isn’t the word you’d choose to describe any of the 100 ice cream varieties at The Ice Cream Store in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. They don’t have vanilla, they have African Vanilla or Madagascar Vanilla Bean. But things only get wilder from there, and the shop’s proprietors clearly have a penchant for the spicy stuff. In addition to their Devil's Breath Carolina Reaper Pepper Ice Cream—a bright red vanilla ice cream mixed with cinnamon and a Carolina Reaper pepper mash—there's also the classic Ghost Pepper Ice Cream, which was featured in a Ripley's Believe It or Not book in 2016. Just be warned: you'll have to sign a waiver if you plan to order either flavor.

7. Bourbon and Corn Flake

You never know exactly which flavors will appear as part of the daily-changing lineup at San Francisco’s Humphry Slocombe, but they always make room for the signature Secret Breakfast. Made with bourbon and Corn Flakes, you’d better get there early if you want to try it; it sells out quickly and on a daily basis.

8. Fig and Fresh Brown Turkey

The sweet-toothed scientists at New York City’s Il Laboratorio del Gelato have never met a flavor they didn’t like—or want to turn into an ice cream. How else would one explain the popularity of their Fig & Fresh Brown Turkey gelato, a popular selection among the hundreds flavors they have created thus far. (Beet and Cucumber are just two of their other fascinating flavors.)

9. Lobster

Don’t let the “chocolate” in the title fool you: Ben & Bill’s Chocolate Emporium in Bar Harbor, Maine makes the most of The Pine Tree State’s most famous delicacy with its signature Lobster Ice Cream, a butter ice cream-based treat with fresh (again buttered) lobster folded into each bite.

10. Creole Tomato

The philosophy at New Orleans’ Creole Creamery is simple: “Eat ice cream. Be happy.” What’s not as easy is choosing from among their dozens of rotating ice creams, sorbets, sherbets and ices. But only the most daring of diners might want to swap out a sweet indulgence for something that sounds more like a salad, as it the case with the Creole Tomato.

11. Eskimo Ice Cream

If you happen to find yourself in an ice cream shop in Juneau, remember this: Eskimo ice cream—also known as Akutag—is not the same thing as an Eskimo Pie, that chocolate-covered ice cream bar you’ll find in just about any grocery store. Though the statewide delicacy has usually got enough fresh berries mixed in to satisfy one’s sweet tooth, its base is actually animal fat (reindeer, caribou, possibly even whale).

12. Cheetos

Big Gay Ice Cream started out as an experimental ice cream truck and morphed into one of New York City’s most swoon-worthy ice cream shops, where the toppings make for an inimitable indulgence. One of their most unique culinary inventions? A Cheetos-inspired cone, where vanilla and cheese ice cream is dipped in Cheetos dust.

Why Do People Get Ice Cream Headaches?

CharlieAJA, istock/getty images plus
CharlieAJA, istock/getty images plus

Reader Susann writes in to ask, "What exactly is the cause of brain freeze?"

You may know an ice cream headache by one of its other names: brain freeze, a cold-stimulus headache, or sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia ("nerve pain of the sphenopalatine ganglion"). But no matter what you call it, it hurts like hell.

Brain freeze is brought on by the speedy consumption of cold beverages or food. According to Dr. Joseph Hulihan—a principal at Paradigm Neuroscience and former associate professor in the Department of Neurology at the Temple University Health Sciences Center, ice cream is a very common cause of head pain, with about one third of a randomly selected population succumbing to ice cream headaches.

What Causes That Pain?

As far back as the late 1960s, researchers pinned the blame on the same vascular mechanisms—rapid constriction and dilation of blood vessels—that were responsible for the aura and pulsatile pain phases of migraine headaches. When something cold like ice cream touches the roof of your mouth, there is a rapid cooling of the blood vessels there, causing them to constrict. When the blood vessels warm up again, they experience rebound dilation. The dilation is sensed by pain receptors and pain signals are sent to the brain via the trigeminal nerve. This nerve (also called the fifth cranial nerve, the fifth nerve, or just V) is responsible for sensation in the face, so when the pain signals are received, the brain often interprets them as coming from the forehead and we perceive a headache.

With brain freeze, we're perceiving pain in an area of the body that's at a distance from the site of the actual injury or reception of painful stimulus. This is a quirk of the body known as referred pain, and it's the reason people often feel pain in their neck, shoulders, and/or back instead of their chest during a heart attack.

To prevent brain freeze, try the following:

• Slow down. Eating or drinking cold food slowly allows one's mouth to get used to the temperature.

• Hold cold food or drink in the front part of your mouth and allow it to warm up before swallowing.

• Head north. Brain freeze requires a warm ambient temperature to occur, so it's almost impossible for it to happen if you're already cold.

This story has been updated for 2019.

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