Friday, September 19, 2008

Stir With A Fork

Now that the weather's getting cool again in New England, I can return to one of my instant gratifications. I dump a packet of instant hot chocolate mix into a cup, and then brew a cup of coffee into it. Ok, I know it's nowhere near as good as a real mocha can be, but it's cheap and quick, and it's not half bad.

Now hot chocolate mix, being naturally gregarious, tends to clump up when the coffee is added, and stirring just makes the clumps swirl around. What's really needed is a good amount of turbulence to break up the clumps so they'll dissolve more quickly (e.g., before I finish drinking the hot chocolate.) At first I tried switching directions. I'd stir counter-clockwise for a while, until the drink really gets going, and then switch. I figured the sudden change in direction would confuse the little hot chocolate clumps, causing them to scatter in a panic.

Nope. They happily switched direction with me.

Now using one of these little plastic stir sticks, or stirrers as they're euphonically called, is completely useless. They have no drag. They simply slice through the liquid, producing no turbulence or wake. I tried switching to a spoon. Once I got the hang of not splattering the coffee/hot chocolate mix all over my shirt, this became pretty straightforward. However, it still didn't break up the hot chocolate clumps.

Finally it hit me. Too really work up a good, clump-breaking turbulence, use a fork! By forcing the liquid through those spaces between the tines, you really shake things up, and also put pressure on those clumps that directly impact the fork tines.

So if you suffer from clumpy hot chocolate mix, stir with a fork!

Can you tell I had too much free time today?

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