White Chocolate-Peppermint Cheesecake

Okay. Here is the final dessert using the aerated chocolate as a garnish.

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For the cheesecake, we made a standard batter flavored with white chocolate and ground starlight mints. We baked it without a crust, let it cool, then placed it in a mixer with a paddle attachment to cream it back together and to aerate it. We then made some mock Oreo cookie dough, baked it, then ground it into a fine powder for garnish as well. IMG_0861
For the final plate up, we put another starlight mint in a low oven to allow it to soften, then pressed it paper thin so it shatters when it’s put in your mouth. We placed 3 quenelles of the cheesecake on the plate, a stripe of chocolate sauce and micro peppermint, and we’re good to go.  Here is the dessert plated on white china and also marble.

Aerated Chocolate – Simplified

I have had a fascination with aerating foods and setting foams for some time now.  For a couple years I have thought about aerating chocolate, cheese, and other gels like agar and gelatin.  There always seemed to be other priorities in my career for some time now.  But, I have finally reached a point where I can continue some good experimentation.  I started off with purchasing a couple high impact plastic vacuum seal containers with a 2 1/2  quart capacity.  I chose the Vacmaster because it’s made with solid, thick, heavy plastic to stand up to the chamber vacuum sealer.

Many chefs talk about tempering the chocolate and/or adding oil to it to increase the fluidity, or even adding stabilizing hydrocolliods.  We found you don’t need to do any of this.

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With this container, we melted 1 1/2 pounds of Valhrona white chocolate and put it in a 1 quart ISI canister and charged it, while warm, with 2 N2O charges, shaking very well in between charges.  We then dispensed the chocolate into the container, put the lid on, moved the dial to “vacuum”, and placed it in the vacuum chamber.  We closed the lid and put about 60% vacuum on the canister and the chocolate ballooned up by about 300%. I then stopped the vacuum and opened the lid and found the chocolate was still holding the air bubbles, and not collapsing,  I placed it in the refrigerator and let the chocolate set for 4 hours.  When I removed it, I released the vacuum and took the lid off.  I then placed the container in warm water to release the chocolate from the sides and took it out.

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This was my 5th attempt.  The first 4 times, it wasn’t working and I could not figure out why.  I learned that you cannot vacuum too much because this will actually suck all the N2O out.  You need to just pull a slight vacuum to allow the chocolate to rise, and then stop.  Otherwise the chocolate will collapse before it sets.

The texture is amazing.  It completely collapses on the palate and melts away to nothing almost instantly.  It fools your mind into thinking you’re suppose to have something in your mouth, but then it’s gone. It looks like white bread or angel food cake from a small distance.  We are working on a new dessert that will use this chocolate as a garnish for a white chocolate-peppermint cheesecake.  More to come.

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Cry-O-Blanching Baby Carrots

Here is a good example of Cry-o-Blanching I demoed for a group of 10 chefs from Beijing, China who participated in my Modern American Cooking lecture I did last month.  The carrots are peeled and cry-o-vac’ed and then frozen.  Ideally they are frozen in liquid nitrogen.  Then they are allowed to defrost at room temperature and then frozen again.  The process is repeated 3 times for these carrots, but can be done on any number of different vegetables or fruits.  The number of freeze-defrost cycles would vary based on the ingredient and desired texture.  You end result will resemble a traditionally blanched item but with a great, fresh flavor not dulled by a drop in boiling water.

Our Micro Greens Revisited

So, I took the plunge and purchased a 50 liter bag of “Hydroton”.  This is the clay like rocks I started experimenting with to grow microgreens under out grow lights in the kitchen.  It cost $35 and we are now converting all our indoor growing operations to utilize it.  Our most recent planting includes pea tendrils, micro radish and micro beets.  The tendrils have been tested and work great (see prior post) but the other items have yet to be seen.  Germination has already taken place after just 2 days.

Emerging Trend, Hopefully Not Fading…

We are seeing more and more butcher shops coming back.  In the old days, before “super centers” with their pre-packaged gassed meats, there were local butcher shops.  There was a day when people knew how to cook.  They would go to their butcher shop and find a WIDE range of cuts.  See, the butcher would get in whole animals and break them down and offer all possible cuts from this one animal with varied pricing based on the cut.  Now, at these so called “super centers” you’re lucky to see 6-8 different cuts of beef where you may see 12-18 different cuts from your local butcher.  Not only was there more variety, there was better utilization.  The whole animal was being used.  What a concept.  What’s more, these animals would come from a local source a majority of the time.

This post is not about meat butchers though.  It is certainly on the rise which is great.  But what’s more fascinating to me is the rise of the VEGETABLE BUTCHER.  Just like your friendly neighborhood meat butcher, these guys and gals will give advise, prep and perhaps have a good story about veggies and cooking in general.

From MSNBC.com:

Personal choppers: Meet the world’s first veggie butchers

They want to change the way people eat, one vegetable at a time

As Alex and Aki from Ideas in Food put it…  “This is a game changer”.  So, go out, find them, and support them.

Link to original article:

http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/39690063/ns/today-food/

Ideas in food:

http://www.ideasinfood.com

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