Today boys and girls we will be learning how to slime our caramel worms.
This episode is brought to you by the letters "S" and "W" and by the number "13".
Does anyone remember the adorable worm, Slimey?
The truest test of a grouch's character is how he treats his worm.
Tasty Worm Slime
1 cup cold water
1 tablespoon tapioca starch (same thing as tapioca flour)
1/4 cup sugar (finely ground will dissolve faster)
1/2 tsp vanilla
Combine water, sugar and tapioca in small saucepan, stir until combined. Cook over medium-high heat while constantly stirring. It's done when it starts to thicken and turns from opaque to clear. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Transfer to small bowl and let cool. It will thicken as it cools. Cover, refrigerate and use within 3 days for best results.
I think the flavor and consistency improved after sitting overnight, so I would recommend making it a day in advance. At the very least it should be completely cooled before dipping any worms.
This will produce a slime that is very close in consistency to what I've observed on real actual earthworms. If you want a slime that's a little more substantial doubling the starch to 2 tablespoons will give you a more jelly-like thickness.
A few notes for people who cook as badly as I do:
Stir constantly. Not stir, go do something "real quick" and then stir some more. I'm awful about that, I get sooo bored mindlessly stirring. You just have to suck it up and stay focused. You can do this, it's only for a few minutes. At least that's what I kept telling myself. Otherwise it gets clumpy and nobody wants clumpy slime.
I always get confused with starch puddings and such that say to constantly stir, and cook for a certain amount of time after it starts to boil. If you are constantly stirring, you stir away the telltale bubbles that indicate it's boiling before they get a chance to form, so how can you tell if it's boiling unless you stop stirring? Which is why I didn't put any of that nonsense in my recipe.
This slime took a total of 8 minutes to cook. After 5 minutes steam was rising up from the pan and it was just starting to turning clear. 2 minutes later it was clear and then I cooked it one minute more, just because. My daughter said it looked like egg whites and it had that same thick but runny consistency. When it cools it will be very stretchy, shown below in Zombie Victim Red.
I think opaque is in the eye of the beholder. To me, once it becomes clear it still looks a little opaque when it's all in the bottom of the pan. Take your spoon or my favorite tool, the spoonula and lift some up out of the pan, you'll see it is indeed transparent.
If you're thinking well I have cornstarch I'll just use that. Tapioca starch produces a clearer slime. I did read that cornstarch is more stable, but I didn't do a side by side comparison. I can say that this slime only keeps for a few days. I kept some on the counter at room temp and some in the refrigerator, both lost their elasticity by the fourth day.
The next part is sliming up the worms. This proved to be more challenging than I expected. The moisture from the slime will break down the caramel. The first few worms I slimed and then put in air tight containers got really mushy. It doesn't affect the flavor, but I thought the texture was off-putting. The outside of the worm was the consistency and flavor of caramel sauce and the center still firm and chewy. Maybe that doesn't sound terribly horrible, but it was. Also the segment details were lost.
If you remember Shanes Killer Cupcakes, she used a thin glaze to make her worms look wet. Depending on how you want to use your worms, that might be a better option for you. But the challenge here was to make slimy worms, so...
...I did a little experimenting. I won't bore you with all the details, just the important stuff:
- For instructional purposes a "lightly" slimed worm is one that is dipped in slime on a fork and then the fork is tapped over the bowl to let the excess slime drip off.
- A "moderately" slimed worm is removed by fork but the excess is not tapped off.- A "heavily" slimed worm is one that is completely submerged in slime. That will quickly result in worm soup and is not recommended unless you actually want worm soup.
- It's easier to slime the worms with room temperature slime.
- Do not keep the worms in an enclosed container. In an open container the slime will eventually, hours later, dry out. A lightly slimed worm will dry to a tacky sheen. A moderately slimed worm will be tacky on top, laying on a thin sticky layer of it's own caramel goo.
- For the first hour there isn't much change whether the slimed worms are refrigerated or sitting out, in fact it isn't until about the third hour that the refrigerated worms are noticeably less deteriorated than room temperature worms.
After my experiments I took my two control worms that hadn't yet been slimed. The one on the left was then lightly slimed, the one of the right moderately slimed and laid on cookie crumbles to simulate possibly one day performing in a Broadway production of "Dirt 'n Worms".
After the worms started to break down I added a tiny bit of raspberry to spots with oozing caramel just for fun. That was taking it too far. It looked way too much like worm guts squishing out.
Seriously, I had to take a deep breath, and mentally prepare myself to eat them. Texture wise they weren't bad. The lightly slimed one was firmer, but even the moderately slimed one wasn't terribly mushy. I think the cookie crumbs absorbed some of the moisture.
I didn't have high expectations for the combination of cookie crumb and slime. It was edible, but I didn't like the two textures together. While the slimed worms were fun, for Dirt 'n Worms, I will use plain caramel worms. I think the slimed worms would make a nice garnish, maybe resting on some lettuce leaves. Throw in a few edible flower accents and you would have quite the Martha Stewart array.
I didn't care for the hint of raspberry with the caramel either. A bit food coloring might work better, but I would not suggest trying. *Don't make edible worms with their guts oozing out, it looks way too disgusting.* The only reason to do this would be for a short film or photo op or to eat in front of someone just to gross them out. Like take them to work and eat them for lunch on April Fools Day. Or if you really like caramel and don't want anyone else to eat them, then by all means go nuts on the guts.
[Update] I had an epiphany in the shower. That's where get a lot of ideas, the one place I can't write them down. I suppose that's alright, the lesser ones wash away down the drain forever forgotten, but the ones that survive are usually keepers. It occurred to me that you could just serve the slime separately, like a dipping sauce, in tiny containers with a couple of worms on the side. I think the under 12 crowd, would probably be your target group for this method. Also I'd probably serve them outside, because I see this getting messy. Fun, but messy.
In middle school I read Squirm, a very different sort of book and instead of eating worms, the worms eat you. It was years later that I stumbled on the movie that the book is based on. The movie is pretty cheesy, although at the time I thought they used earthworms. I had no idea the actors were working with fanged venomous worms, which makes the movie a lot more horrifying. Here's the abridged MST3K version, which if your squeamish doesn't show the scenes using thousands of Glycera Worms [This link on the other hand does have a short video showing one of these worms baring it's fanged proboscis].