Foam, Foam on the Range*

July 1, 2013 · 1 comment

Playing with LN2

So many posts to write, so little time.

The birthday dinner for She Who Must Be Obeyed was completely in my comfort zone, which meant I had to try at least one new thing. The “Chocolate and Milk” dessert in the Eleven Madison Park cookbook looked interesting and would give me the opportunity to mess around with liquid nitrogen, so I dispatched She Who to the lab to fetch 10 liters of the stuff.

The dessert is an assemblage of nine components, all of which could be prepared in advance of service. I spent a few days before the dinner preparing everything. What follows is the component-by-component breakdown.

Caramelized White Chocolate Sorbet

White Chocolate

Making the sorbet was easy. What was different in this recipe was the method for caramelizing the white chocolate. I’ve done it in mason jars in a pressure cooker, which results in a lot of scraping and a jar to clean. Cooking it sous vide at 200° F for three hours produced a darker chocolate with no mess to clean up.

Aerated Chocolate

Aerated Chocolate

I melted dark chocolate and grapeseed oil in a foam canister in an 82° F water bath, charged with NO2, foamed out onto a baking sheet, froze, and broke into chunks.

Dehydrated Milk Foam

Milk Foam

I heated milk and glucose syrup to just under a boil, frothed it with a hand blender, scooped it into a pan and let it dry overnight in a 175° F oven. The result:

Dehydrated Milk Foam

If I do this again I’ll add a stabilizer like VersaWhip to keep the foam from collapsing.

Dehydrated Chocolate Mousse

Chocolate Mousse

Classic mousse recipe spread onto sheet pans and placed in a dehydrator overnight:

Dehydrated Mousse

Again, a stabilizer would keep the mousse from collapsing.

Frozen Chocolate Foam

Chocolate Foam

Not quite a mousse, this chocolate mixture was chocolate, milk, milk powder, sugar, and gelatin. I foamed it into a deep pan and then ladled liquid nitrogen over it to freeze it solid.

Frozen Chocolate

My other foam charger still had some cream in it, so I used the extra LN2 to make frozen whipped cream:

Frozen Whipped Cream

What do you do with extra LN2? Freeze and smash flowers, of course.

Smash!

The three remaining components – browned milk solids, dulce de leche, and whipped crème fraiche – were prepared by the usual methods. Nothing to see here, move along.

Plating

Final assembly was pretty much freeform on chilled plates. I smeared a tablespoon of dulce de leche diagonally, added the whipped crème fraiche, arranged the various chocolate bits, garnished with the brown milk solids and frozen cream, and topped with a quenelle of the white chocolate sorbet.

Final Plate

Five types of milk, four kinds of chocolate, each one a unique texture. This was a fun dessert to eat since it allowed a wide variety of combinations to be created. It also forced people to lick the plate, which I always enjoy seeing.

I still have some of the components left, which will appear as ice cream garnishes throughout the summer until they disappear. And there will be more playing with LN2 now that I have this gift from She Who:

Dewar

* Title courtesy of Graham Sleight.

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