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3D-Printed Chocolate: Gimmick or Godsend?

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Recently I've become totally obsessed with all of people's attempts to 3D-print chocolate. It seems so illogical and yet inevitable at the same time, and I can't look away.

Hershey's is working on the technology, and I interviewed a guy a while back who is building a MakerBot-style chocolate printer too. There are a slew of people making one-off pieces this way too. Some claim that it's really easy to work with chocolate this way, but given what I know about chocolate's temperamental viscosity and general crabbiness, I find that hard to believe.

Here are two of the coolest projects I've seen so far.

The first one comes from Australian pastry chef and chocolatier Ryan Foote in a few weeks to figure out how he 3D-prints chocolate in myriad forms; here's a stunning plated dessert he made recently.

And this second one isn't technically 3D-printed chocolate, but involves 3D printing in general. In Japan around Valentine's Day a few years ago, FabCafe offered a workshop where patrons 3D-printed a mold of their head, filled it with chocolate, and then offered that bonbon as a special present in a larger box of candies to their beloved. Surprise! Terrifying or fun? You decide.

Is 3D-printing vital to these sweets, or is it just a gimmick? I'm on the fence. If the resulting chocolate is chockfull of crazy details that could only be achieved with a printer, then fine. But otherwise, I'm not sure what's gained by printing the chocolate versus making it (or its mold) in more traditional ways.

What do you think?

Tell me at or on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter and I'll include your comments in the next Chocolate Today!