Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Edible Slimy Worms: Part 1

So...after I posted about Dirt 'n Worms and complained about the worms, because gummy stuff is gross and super gross when mixed with chocolate, Lady M suggested we should figure out how to make slimy worm candy.  I decided to tackle it before I forgot and found myself on the cusp of yet another Mother's Day with nothing to show for it but a lousy bag of store bought gummy worms.

I found many wonderful things on the internet, none of them quite what I wanted, but still very inspiring.

In the best looking worms category I give you: Shane's Killer Cupcakes - Maggot & Worm Cupcakes.  By far the best looking worms, but alas they are made of fondant, which is icky.  I do wonder if the Scuptable Frosting that I used for my Krampus and Zombie cupcakes would work if you added a bit of cocoa powder for coloring.  Cocoa powder might even cut the sweetness back a little.

In the categories of best tasting and easiest to make, check out: Good To Know - Halloween Worm Cupcakes.  Rolling out caramels and making a few indents is about as easy as it gets and they look pretty good.  It goes without saying that the flavor would marry nicely with chocolate.

Honorable mention goes to this cake just for looking awesome: A Little Piece of Cake - Worm & Maggot Fear Factor Cake. This uses modeling chocolate for the worms.  I haven't used modeling chocolate, which is a bit of misnomer since most of the recipes I found use corn syrup and candy melts, no actual chocolate.  Sugar Geek Show does provide recipes for both the candy melt and a chocolate version in this post, but most of the information and pictures (Go look at the pictures, she does amazing things with this stuff.) seem to be using the candy melt one.  

I went the easy route and used caramels. I also think the flavor will go well with the dirt 'n worms. I borrowed from Shane's worms and made the signature band (clitellum) around the worm.  Did you know that the band indicates a sexually mature earthworm? Now you do.  It is also generally located about a third of the way down the worm's body if you are wondering about placement.

For more worm info this is an interesting read. If you just want a worm fact quick fix try this FAQ. I was surprised to learn a few years back that earthworms are not native to Wisconsin, and are actually bad for the forests. I still love seeing big adorable earthworms in my garden.  Thankfully I haven't seen the super invasive Jumping Worms.   For a visual on why they are called Jumping Worms check out this quick video.  This video is a short claymation film that shows just why they are so destructive.

Ok class time is over, on to making worms.  I tried both Werther's and Kraft caramel's.  Oddly despite the fact that the Werther's where harder to roll out, they didn't keep their shape and spread out over time.  Just to make sure it wasn't because of my manhandling I unwrapped a Werther's and set it out.  Sure enough even without me doing anything, the caramel slowly spread. It's a shame because I think the Werther's tasted better, and I was excited about having two different colored worms.

Caramel Leeches?
The Kraft caramels are much easier to roll and keep their shape, so that's a win, win as far as I'm concerned. The lesson here is that whatever the brand you use, leave a piece sit out unwrapped for a few hours and see what it does.  It would be a shame to make twenty worms and have them all flatten out before your eyes.  Should you not heed my warning and your worms spread, maybe you could call them leeches.

Making worms is super easy.  Start to roll each caramel into a log shape. Cut off a little piece and set aside. Continue rolling out your log until desired length and width and make sure the ends are smooth.

Now press the little piece you set aside into a small ribbon, make sure it's long enough to wrap around the worm.  Remember this will be placed about a third of the way down.

To make the segment indents use the dull side of a vary thin paring blade.  If you push gently you can roll the worm with the back of blade as you make the indents, thus getting your lines to go all, or at least almost all of the way around.  If you don't worry about perfection it goes really quick. If the worms are too soft to roll nicely, refrigerate for a few minutes to firm them up.

These are the types of knives I'm talking about. I have those exact ones in fact and wouldn't recommend getting that brand. I've had two handles break, more like disintegrate, in my hand.  I lost my good ones and I can't remember where I got them.

Add the clitellum.  Place the worms with the clitellum seam side down.   

I think the worms look really good, maybe even a little too good.  It took some convincing to get my son to try them, after which he pleasantly surprised.  No amount of coaxing, begging or "Look your brother likes them." will get my daughter to eat one.  She says they look too gross.  My kids are teenagers.  I  think younger kids, at least the twisted ones, would gleefully enjoy the gross out factor.

Stay tuned until next time when we get to our slime on.

One last thing, a word of warning.  Searching for pictures using variations of "chocolate", "caramel" and "worms" is not for the faint of heart.  Once I eliminated "gummy" from the search I had to wade through a lot of pictures of larvae infested confections.

Not quite as prevalent, but just as graphic, are candies made with real insects and larvae.  I realize that they are not only a viable food source, but a healthy one at that.  Marcus Leach has an interesting read on eating insects along with recipes.  The Mealworm Fudge doesn't look half bad, but I think I'll cling to my vegetarianism. Which is really just an illusion, insects and larvae are probably the least disgusting things that I am already unwittingly ingesting.

From the FDA Defect Levels Handbook:

Chocolate and Chocolate Liquor

Insect filth
(AOAC 965.38)

Average is 60 or more insect fragments per 100 grams when 6 100-gram subsamples are examined
Any 1 subsample contains 90 or more insect fragments

Rodent filth
(AOAC 965.38)

Average is 1 or more rodent hairs per 100 grams in 6 100-gram subsamples examined
Any 1 subsample contains 3 or more rodent hairs

(AOAC 968.10-970.23)

For chocolate liquor, if the shell is in excess of 2% calculated on the basis of alkali-free nibs

DEFECT SOURCE:  Insect fragments - post harvest and/or processing insect infestation, Rodent hair - post harvest and/or processing contamination with animal hair or excreta, Shell - processing contamination
Significance: Aesthetic





Feel free to peruse the rest of the handbook later, maybe if you have free time during lunch. It's always nice to keep up on your egg, larve, filth, excreta, rot and mold consumption.

I do have a box of spicy larve, because I think it looks cool. I've offered to share but oddly no one has been tempted to try them.


  1. Very exciting that you found a way to make worms - those are beautiful and really authentic. I like caramel and chocolate combination too, so it is a win-win. But the leeches - they are cracking me up. Plus, I had no idea that jumping worms were invading the forests. I did not even know they existed. As for larvets, they are not bad. I have eaten them. Thanks for a most educational and interesting post. I learned a lot and am excited to make a dirt cake.

    1. Without your suggestion I would have never gone down this path, so thank you. I happened to stumble on the jumping worm thing. What’s sad is you can buy them in bulk online, usually called Alabama Jumpers, for bait or composting. It’s illegal to transport them to a number of states, but who knows that? I mean besides weird crafty chicks who over-research art projects. I imagine larvets being lite and crunchy, like rice crackers. Still not going to eat them, but texture-wise I could probably handle them better than any animal meat. I hope we get to see pictures of your dirt cake!

  2. Very good post! Very detailed and informative. I am definitely going to have to try this. Thanks for the tips.

    1. Glad you enjoyed it. I hope you have fun making worms! I’d love to see pictures.