Caramelised locust
A caramelized locust is used to decorate a cake made of insects at the University of Wageningen (Reuters) Reuters

Caramelised locust and cupcakes made with mealworms were just some of the treats available at the launch of Dutch recipe book The Insect Cookbook.

The book was launched at the University of Wageningen with recipe ideas coming from faculty members Henk van Gurp, Marcel Dicke and Arnold van Huis.

The occasion was marked with specialist insect chef van Gurp attempting to set a record for cooking the world's biggest grasshopper pie.

The book, written in Dutch, contains unusual recipes such as chocolate muffins with worms and mushroom risotto with grasshoppers. The intention is to show how insects and some invertebrates can be excellent sources of protein.

The book was published as research at the university shows that insects could provide the best source of protein to meet the growing demands of a rising population.

With the world population expected to hit nine billion by 2050, Marcel Dicke, a professor at the university, which specialises in food and food production, predicted it will be difficult to provide enough protein for everyone because there will not be enough land for raising livestock.

Livestock production accounts for 70 percent of agricultural land use.

"I see this as the next step towards the introduction of insects on restaurant menus in the Netherlands. I also expect people to buy the book and start cooking with insects at home," said Dicke.

The nutritional value of insects is similar to those of meat, and the emission of greenhouse gases from insect production is a hundred times lower than in pig production, the university said.

"We have to overcome the idea that it's scary, because you can prepare it nicely and you can make great dishes," van Gurp told Reuters.

"With the growing population and growing welfare, people start consuming more animal protein so we need alternatives," said van Huis, professor of tropical entomology,

But Mark van Kimmenaede, a chef at Specktakel who sold served customers a five-course menu of insect dishes in March, does not expect insects to become hugely popular because of their particular taste.

"It does not go well with fish, for example," he said.

"It is nice to have one or two dishes with insects on the menu, but it has to stay fun."

A cake filled with edible insects in the shape of the cookbook 'The Insect Cookbook' (Reuters)
A cake filled with edible insects in the shape of The Insect Cookbook'(Reuters) Reuters