How Does Nonstick Cookware Work?

Invented in 1938, nonstick cookware allows chefs and bakers to cook with less fat and easily clean pots and pans after preparing a meal. Though it seems smooth, the surface of a metal pan contains tiny ridges and holes. When the metal heats, it expands and these small pores open. During cooking, food slips into the holes, hardens, and sticks to the pan. Coating the pan with oil or butter before cooking fills these pores with fat, preventing food from adhering to the metal. Nonstick cookware is coated with polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), which works in the same manner as oil or butter. The fluoropolymer coats the pan, shielding the pores from food. PTFE is a special polymer (a large molecule composed of repeating monomers) that contains carbon and fluorine. Fluorine is a very electronegative element, which means that it has a strong attraction for electrons. When it bonds to the carbon, the two atoms share electrons, and both obtain full valance shells. This satisfies and stabilizes the atoms and the entire molecule. Even though the fluorine and carbon atoms are only connected by a single bond, the bond is strong due to fluorine’s high electronegativity. This durable bond prevents molecules from binding to the PTFE, and thus reduces the amount of food that sticks to the pan. graphics11 Additionally, PTFE has a low coefficient of friction. As a result, objects easily slide across the PTFE. Without a great amount of friction, one can easily wipe away food remains from the nonstick cookware. In order for the PTFE to adhere to the pan, manufactures must first roughen the surface of the pan. They then spray on the PTFE and bake the pan, which locks the polymer to the metal.

Although nonstick cookware prevents most food residue, it never hurts to use a little nonstick cooking spray or oil. After all that hard work, it would be a shame if a delicious dessert stuck to the pan. Moreover, cupcakes liners work wonderfully for mini cakes and muffins.

Today, I baked chocolate plum muffins to celebrate my best friend’s birthday.

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When creating the recipe, I knew that I wanted to make these muffins as healthy as possible without sacrificing taste.  My friend loves chocolate, but also values eating healthy and staying in shape.

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Oil does not contribute much taste, but definitely keeps muffins moist and tender.  Shockingly, one cup of oil packs almost 2,000 calories!  My original recipe called for 3/4 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup of oil.  It was still healthier than most cupcake or muffin recipes, but I wanted to take it to the next level.

After looking online, I saw many replacements for oil: yogurt, apple sauce, and prune puree.  Each healthy alternative reduces the amount of calories in the muffins and also adds an extra layer of flavor.  I decided prune paired well with chocolate, but feared that those who ate the muffins would have to run to the bathroom!  After contemplating all my options, I compromised between apple sauce and prune puree and used plum sauce.

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To make the sauce, I simply peeled and finely grated two plums.  This yielded 1/2 cup of  sauce, the same amount of oil needed in my original recipe.  Amazingly, this simple switch cut 900 calories out of the entire recipe – that’s 50 calories per muffin!

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Additionally, the natural sugar from the plum allowed me to decrease the amount of sugar I added to the mix.  Instead of 3/4 cup, 1 only used 1/2 cup.  Another 190 calories gone – 10 calories per muffin!

Even without oil these chocolate muffins are extremely moist, fudgey, and packed with chocolatey goodness.  At just 100 calories per muffin, these are a great healthy treat for all chocolate lovers.

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Unfortunately, when I removed the oil, I forgot one important thing: taking the muffins out of the pan.  I used liners because I thought it would make it easier to remove the muffins.  Wrong!  Without any oil, the muffins completely stuck to the liners!  No worries though, I used a knife and carefully peeled off the wrappers.  Then, I popped the muffins in some colorful liners.  Nevertheless, the muffins tasted delicious!  Next time, I would definitely bake these directly in the pan and use cooking spray, even if the pan is nonstick!

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Chocolate Plum Muffins

2 cups flour

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1/2 cup sugar

2 eggs

1/2 cup plum, finely grated

1 1/2 cups milk

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350º.

Using a fork, combine the sugar, eggs, plum, baking powder, salt and vanilla.  Add the cocoa powder.  Pour in the milk and then slowly mix in the flour.  Stir until the batter comes together. Add the chocolate chips.

Spoon batter into a greased muffin tin.  Top with extra sugar and chocolate chips if desired.  Bake for 25 minutes.

Let cool and enjoy!

Makes 18 muffins.

Thanks to these websites for the info on nonstick cookware!

How Stuff Works

Fine Cooking

Explain That Stuff

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