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Cubes of jellies, foams, and mousses, flavor spheres: food takes unusual shapes and textures, deconstructed.
Good morning Crew!
Are you ready for the holidays? Stop recipes for roasts and panettone! Today I will teach you how to impress your guests with lots of… molecular bubbles cocktails! And, why not, offer a starting point for a surprisingly unusual gift.
Let’s start with the basics: what’s molecular cuisine?
With molecular cuisine, we intend all those cooking techniques that use mechanisms based on chemical reactions to transform food. Cubes of jellies, foams, and mousses, flavor spheres: food takes unusual shapes and textures, deconstructed. A pioneer of this technique is the Spanish chef Ferran Adrià, but also the Italian Massimo Bottura, in his restaurant Osteria Francescana, offers a menu that while referring to the tradition meets with molecular cuisine. Try to look for his “Bollito non bollito” and you’ll understand.
I reassure you: today I’m not going to turn your kitchen into a chemistry lab with stills, test tubes and carrots unstructured, but I will give you the basics to create molecular cocktail, through the spherification process: spheres, in fact, all gelatinous appearance, which when put into the mouth explode, freeing your favorite alcoholic. An example? Spheres of Aperol, which can be enjoyed alone or soak in a flute of prosecco, for an alternative spritz! Or a bitter or liqueur “caviar” you can use to garnish a dessert or served in small glasses after the meal. Everything is experimenting!
The only ingredients a bit special that you will need are sodium alginate and calcium salt: you can obtain them easily at any pharmacy (specifying that they are for food), or purchase one of the sets that I recommend below. There will be used in very small quantities, then you can store the leftover for future preparations, or use them to pack your DIY kit. While you’re at the pharmacy, also purchased syringes of different sizes: the littler will serve for “caviar”, medium to bigger for “spheres.”
The other tools you may need are: two transparent bowls, at least half a liter of capacity, a blender or immersion blender, a slotted spoon or small strainer, a glass jar, spoons, and teaspoons.
The ingredients: your favorite alcohol, a syrup of simple sugar (which can be bought already prepared, or made by boiling water and sugar in a 1: 2 proportions, until it thickens then let it cool).
Normally, the spherification, realized at the time, would require a bit long waiting times. Wandering around the web, however, I found several sites that suggested the creation of a mother liquid, that you can easily store in a refrigerator and use as needed. So I tried!
250 ml of natural water
250 ml of sugar syrup
4 grams of sodium alginate
Mix all these ingredients with a blender and let stand at least 24 hours in a cool place, to allow the air incorporated to exit. Store in a glass jar in the refrigerator, indefinitely.
Now that your mother liquid is ready, you can start your career as a small chemical!
The two “bath”:
In a container prepared the so-called calcium bath, by dissolving 2.5 g of the calcium salt in 500 ml of natural water. Fill the other bowl instead only with plain water.
Keep them in front of you.
The alcohol mixture
Now take your alcohol (such as Aperol) and mix it in proportions 1: 1 with the mother liquid, in any glass, using just a teaspoon.
With a syringe, taken a bit of the alcohol mixture, and gently “slide” it in the bath calcium. Depending on the size of the syringe and the pressure exercised that will create small droplets (caviar) or bubbles (spheres) that will deposit on the bottom of the bowl. You can also use a teaspoon, taking care to slide the tilt of liquid on the edge of the bowl, to keep the shape as spherical as possible. After about a minute, you picked up your balls with a slotted spoon or a colander and put them in the bowl with water alone, until use.
The more the balls are soaked in the solution of calcium, more they will become gelatinous also inside. But even when they are immersed in water, it becomes solid after about 7-8 hours (they will still taste excellent!).
If you want to create multiple “flavors” or spheres of varying sizes, you can do it: you can just put the balls, gently, in different cups or glasses waiting for the guests, although achieving this little magic in front of them will be fun!
Your spheres can be immersed in other liquids, even hot (how about a coffee with cream whiskey balls?) or frozen. The flavor of the alcoholic sphere, however, will be a bit sweeter than expected, because of the combination with the mother liquid, already sweet. Sugar, in facts, helps this gelling chemical reaction, but if use an already sweet spirit, you can skip the creation of the mother liquid and mix it directly with the sodium alginate: however, this means to use tenths of grams, an operation which I do not recommend without a special precision scale.
Do you want to give this experience as a present? Prepare the kit: in two different bags put alginate and salt and accompanied it all with these instructions, maybe with a perforated spoon. Otherwise, I recommend you the Molecule-R kit on Amazon.
If, instead, you are looking for other tips for Christmas food-themed gifts, find them in our post… in a jar!
Are you ready to experience then?
Good bubbling holidays to you!