How Innovative Ideas Arise

n 2010, Thomas Thwaites decided he wanted to build a toaster from scratch. He walked into a shop, purchased the cheapest toaster he could find, and promptly went home and broke it down piece by piece.

Thwaites had assumed the toaster would be a relatively simple machine. By the time he was finished deconstructing it, however, there were more than 400 components laid out on his floor. The toaster contained over 100 different materials with three of the primary ones being plastic, nickel, and steel.

He decided to create the steel components first. After discovering that iron ore was required to make steel, Thwaites called up an iron mine in his region and asked if they would let him use some for the project.

Surprisingly, they agreed.

The Toaster Project

The victory was short-lived.

When it came time to create the plastic case for his toaster, Thwaites realized he would need crude oil to make the plastic. This time, he called up BP and asked if they would fly him out to an oil rig and lend him some oil for the project. They immediately refused. It seems oil companies aren’t nearly as generous as iron mines.

Thwaites had to settle for collecting plastic scraps and melting them into the shape of his toaster case. This is not as easy as it sounds. The homemade toaster ended up looking more like a melted cake than a kitchen appliance.

This pattern continued for the entire span of The Toaster Project. It was nearly impossible to move forward without the help of some previous process. To create the nickel components, for example, he had to resort to melting old coins. He would later say, “I realized that if you started absolutely from scratch you could easily spend your life making a toaster.”

The Toaster Project by Thomas Thwaites (How Innovative Ideas Arise)

THE BEST DESSERTS IN THE WORLD

1. Pasteis de Nata – Custard Tarts from Portugal

When asked what the best cuisine in the world is, Portuguese food rarely gets a mention. But it certainly should when it comes to the best desserts in the world!

Pasteis de nata is a traditional Portuguese custard tart, with a deliciously crispy and flaky pastry shell, filled to the brim with a sweet, creamy custard centre. Best served warm with a light dusting of cinnamon, it’s impossible to eat just one of these. You’ll be going back for more if you’re holidaying in Portugal this year!

Bakedin Best desserts around the world Portuguese Nata

These little morsels of delight were first created by the residents of the Jeronimos Monastery over 300 years ago in Belem. After the monastery closed, the original recipe was sold on to a little cafe around the corner, Pasteis de Belem, which still keeps it a closely guarded secret.

Almost every bakery in Lisbon has tried to recreate it, but each recipe has its own quirks and tweaks. You can now knock up a pretty good version at home, thanks to this pasteis de nata recipe from Delicious Magazine.  

Pasteis de nata is a very worthy entry on our top 10 bakes from around the world list.

2. Tiramisu – Coffee Flavoured Dessert from Italy

Tiramisu needs no introduction – but we’ll give it one anyway. This classic Italian dessert is made up of sponge fingers soaked in coffee, traditionally layered between a coffee-flavoured mascarpone cheese whipped with eggs and sugar, and then topped with cocoa. Literally meaning ‘pick-me-up’ in Italian, tiramisu is the perfect end to an Italian feast and can be found on most menus across the country.  

Bakedin Best desserts around the world Tiramisu

Tiramisu is still a relatively new dessert, with most records stating it was invented in the 1960s in the Veneto region of Italy. Despite its youth, tiramisu has rapidly become one of the most popular desserts in the world – and soon, your home! Butterlust blog has got the perfect recipe for a super simple tiramisu that you can whip up back in Blighty.

3. Gulab Jamun – Deep-fried sweets from India

Gulab jamun is easily one of the best desserts in the world. Imagine a deep-fried doughnut in bitesize form, soaked in a sweet syrup. Now imagine something that’s even better than that, and you’ve got gulab jamun.

Gulab jamun is made by mixing dried milk powder, flour, yoghurt and clarified butter with flavourings before rolling into a ball and deep frying. It is then soaked in an infused syrup for a few hours before being topped with crushed nuts and served.

Bakedin Best desserts around the world Gulab Jamun

It’s one of the best desserts from around the world, traditionally served to celebrate festivals and parties or to welcome guests in Southern Asia. If you’re travelling to India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal or Sri Lanka over your summer holidays, there’s a high chance you might be treated to gulab jamun at a restaurant.

If you want to make these Indian sweets at home, head over to Pepper, Chilli and Vanilla blog for a Gulab Jamun recipe you can try at home.

4. S’mores – a campfire treat from USA

If you’re headed to North America for your summer holidays, one thing you’re bound to try is a s’more – particularly as National S’mores Day is celebrated every 10th of August!

Said to be a contraction of the words ‘some’ and ‘more’, s’mores were first eaten around the campfire at Scout camps as far back as the 1920s. A s’more is made up of two biscuits sandwiched together with melted chocolate and marshmallows – traditionally melted over the campfire itself!

Bakedin Best desserts in the world Smores

S’mores remind us a lot of our Choc Mallow Melt Cookie Kit, as it’s essentially a fancy version of s’mores using home-baked cookies. So once you’re back home, don’t shiver outside next to a campfire, get your bake on and make these s’mores from the comfort of your cosy kitchen!

Go on, have s’more…

5. Churros – deep-fried dough sticks from Spain

Churros are traditionally deep-fried dough sticks originating from Spain, but they’re now really popular in Latin America, particularly Mexico, Colombia and Guatemala. You’re bound to find them served by street vendors or in cafes in each of these countries over your summer holidays.

Churros are made from a choux-like pastry, piped through a star-shaped nozzle into hot oil where they’re fried until golden brown and then sprinkled with sugar. They are traditionally eaten for breakfast, dipped or drizzled with hot chocolate or dulche de leche, but you might also spot them on dessert menus in some restaurants.

Bakedin Best desserts around the world Churros

Though churros are traditionally deep-fried, check out our very own baked churros recipe that gives you all the flavour without the fuss and guilt of deep fat fryers. Give them a go!

6. Lamingtons – square sponge cakes from Australia

Lamingtons are traditionally made from a small square of vanilla sponge covered in chocolate and desiccated coconut, but they can also contain a layer of jam sandwiching two lamington halves.

Lamingtons are said to be named after Lord Lamington, who served as the Governor of Queensland in the late 1890s. The story goes that he had some unexpected guests, so his chef dipped leftover vanilla sponge cake in chocolate and coconut before serving them to the guests. This adds even more fuel to the fire that says the world’s best desserts are often created by accident!

Bakedin Best desserts around the world Lamingtons

If you’re visiting Australia with your family this summer, look out for these tasty treats sold at all good bakeries down under. Don’t let the fun stop once you get home though! Use Eat Little Bird’s Lamingtons recipe to recreate the bake for yourself.

7. Malva Pudding – warm sponge pudding from South Africa

Malva pudding originates from South Africa, and is a gooey sponge cake made with apricot jam and served warm with a creamy sauce or custard. It’s often served in restaurants, so make sure to scan dessert menus for this if you’re visiting South Africa over the summer. As South Africa will be in winter during our summer holidays, you might be grateful for a slice of this pudding on chillier days.

Malva Pudding

The name Malva may come from the Afrikaans word for marshmallow, thanks to its texture which resembles a marshmallow. The origins of this delicious dessert from around the world isn’t that well-known, but it’s likely to have come from a Cape-Dutch recipe.

Thanks to its comforting texture and delicious taste, malva pudding goes down very easily. Even better, it’s super easy to make too! Give this malva pudding recipe a go from BBC Good Food and try it for yourself.

8. Baklava – a sweet pudding from the Middle East

No list of the world’s best sweets and desserts would be complete without baklava from the Middle East. It’s a sweet pudding, often served in restaurants at the end of a meal when you’re given the bill, but you can also order it from cafes as a mid-morning or afternoon snack.

Baklava is made from layers of paper-thin filo pastry, butter, chopped nuts and a sweet syrup fragranced with rose or orange blossom water. It’s normally made in big tins, baked and then drizzled with even more syrup before cutting into smaller pieces.  

Bakedin Best Desserts in the World Baklava

The history of baklava is disputed, with Greece and Turkey both laying claim to its invention as far back as the 2nd century BC. Regardless of its roots, it is just as popular today and deserves its spot on this list of the top 10 bakes from around the world.

Lucy Loves has a nice, simple recipe for baklava using shop-bought filo pastry and pistachio nuts if you want to try it once back home.

9. Baking with Matcha from Japan

Matcha is a powder made from green tea leaves. While this doesn’t sound like a traditional flavouring for sweet bakes, it gives bakes a delicate flavour which is delicious in lots of desserts, from green tea ice cream to matcha cakes and cookies.

Bakedin Best Desserts in the World Matcha

Anyone heading to Japan over the summer holidays will spot matcha flavoured treats in cafes, restaurants and at street food stalls – it’s almost as popular as chocolate is in the UK! If your visit to Japan has you dreaming of baking your own recipes with matcha, take a look at Just One Cookbook’s blog for some ideas.

10. Rum Cake from the Caribbean

Rum cake is one of the best traditional cakes from around the world. Originating in the Caribbean, rum cake is a sponge baked in a savarin mould (giving it a slightly doughnut-style shape) and then soaked in rum. It’s often topped with icing or dried fruit and nuts, so there’s plenty of choice.

Bakedin Best desserts around the world Rum Cake

It’s traditionally served during holiday season, but many souvenir shops and supermarkets sell it to visitors by the suitcase load! Make sure you check the alcohol levels in the rum cake when you try it in the Caribbean. Some people report becoming intoxicated by it!

If you want to try rum cake at home, head over to the Brown Eyed Baker’s blog for a homemade rum cake recipe.

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Members of our Baking Club get exclusive access to a new recipe each month, often inspired by baking trends and traditions from around the world. Find out more about the Baking Club over on our website, and sign up today!

The 10 Most Expensive Chocolates in the World

Chocolate is the most favorite deserts of all-time worldwide. Not only has it been around for thousands, but it is the most versatile delicacies on the desert list. Chocolate comes in a variety of flavors and it’s not only delicious, but it can also be healthy in a few ways, including the released of chemicals into your system that relax you and give you a natural high. Depending on the type of chocolate and the brand, chocolate can greatly vary in prices, from very affordable to extremely expensive. For devout chocolate lovers, you may be willing to spend any amount to get the best-of-the-best, but how much would that be? If you have ever wondered how much the most expensive chocolates are, then keep reading to see what the 10 most expensive chocolates in the world would cost you.

10. Vosges Haut Chocolat

The chocolate company, Vosges Haut Chocolat is based in Chicago and is owned by Katrina Markoff. Markoff has created some incredibly unique flavors by adding unusual ingredients most people wouldn’t associate with chocolate; such as bacon and Mexican chili’s. She also incorporates cinnamon, ginger, black sesame seeds and wasabi into her chocolate to come up with items like, Red Fire Chocolat and Black Pear Chocolat. You can also geta Mo’s Milk Chocolate Bacon Bar. Markoff is the only one to hand choose what goes into the chocolate, so that all her creations are personally, and beautifully designed. Her choclats start at $90.

9. Amedei Porcelana by Amedei

The name porcelana was derived from the fact that the cocoa beans used in the chocolates are translucent in color due to the genetically pure strain of criollo. This is a bean found in Venezuela. This chocolate has been awarded many different awards, including the best dark chocolate bar, the best bean to bar honors and the golden bean award. These are some of the most expensive chocolates and they sell for $90.00 a bar. For a unique chocolate experience, Amedei Porcelana has a chocolate combination that will tantalize anyone.

8. Grand Cru by Pierre Marcolini

The gourmet chocolatier from Belgium, Pierre Marcolini, uses only the best, and the highest quality of cocoa beans from top bean producing countries; Venezuela, Madagascar, Mexico, and Ecaudor. The main process he uses to develop his chocolates is to flavor his chocolates with vanilla, but in such a special way that his chocolates are considered some of the most innovative and delectable. He has gotten awarded with high acclaim for his creations, which are very meticulously prepared for the most flavorful chocolate experience. They sell for $102.50.

7. Richart

Another chocolate maker that uses a combination of unique flavors and ingredients to create some of the most delectable chocolate flavors and tastes, is Richart. Richart’s chocolates give you an experience of herbal, fruity, floral, spiced, and citrusy combinations that make your mouth water. Richart acquires his beans from Venezuela, Madagascar, and Haiti, top cocoa bean growers.

Celebrations

The bangs and fizzes of fireworks are rapidly replacing the chimes of Big Ben as the defining sound of New Year’s Eve celebrations in London, while around the world, city landmarks are becoming stages for increasingly spectacular pyrotechnic displays. Since the millennium, the popularity of fireworks has even extended into back gardens, where smaller fireworks or sparklers are lit up at the stroke of midnight.

Fireworks are great fun. We all enjoy guessing the colours of the rockets before they ignite in the sky, hearing the explosions echo off nearby buildings, or writing our names in light with hand sparklers.

But there is an environmental price to pay. Firework smoke is rich in tiny metal particles. These metals make firework colours, in much the same way as Victorian scientists identified chemicals by burning them in a Bunsen flame; blue from copper, red from strontium or lithium, and bright green or white from barium compounds.

There is more smoke from potassium and aluminium compounds, which are used to propel fireworks into the air. Perchlorates are also used as firework propellants; these are a family of very reactive chlorine and oxygen compounds, which were also used by NASA to boost space shuttles off the launch pad.

Prioritize your goals

We are creatures of habit. Between a third and half of our behaviour is habitual, according to research estimates. Unfortunately, our bad habits compromise our health, wealth and happiness.

On average, it takes 66 days to form a habit. But positive behavioural change is harder than self-help books would have us believe. Only 40% of people can sustain their new year’s resolution after six months, while only 20% of dieters maintain long-term weight loss.

Education does not effectively promote behaviour change. A review of 47 studies found that it’s relatively easy to change a person’s goals and intentions but it’s much harder to change how they behave. Strong habits are often activated unconsciously in response to social or environmental cues – for example, we go to the supermarket about 211 times a year, but most of our purchases are habitual.

With all this in mind, here are five ways to help you keep your new year’s resolutions – whether that’s taking better care of your body or your bank balance.

New Year Anxiety

Have you ever woken up in the morning (or afternoon) in a cloud of worry after having a few drinks the night before?

As this holiday season comes to an end — after weeks of Christmas festivities, holiday parties and New Year celebrations — many of you may be nursing some hangover anxiety, or “hangxiety,” after getting just a little too merry.

As a neuroscientist researching how food and drink affect brain function, let me explain how drinking alcohol can trigger hangxiety the next day.

From tequila to endorphins and dopamine

Alcoholic beverages — beer, wine or spirits — disrupt the delicate balance of chemicals in the brain, called neurotransmitters. Alcohol exerts a cocktail of effects on brain function that can be enjoyable at the time, but much less fun the next day.

Good feelings also come from alcohol increases the release of dopamine by activating the brain’s reward system — the mesolimbic pathway. Dopamine release reinforces behaviours — making it more likely for us to do whatever caused the dopamine surge again.

So, we quickly learn that the shot of tequila or glass of wine made us feel good, making us want more.