Thursday, October 29, 2009

Understanding Chocolate Mousse Emulsions

I want to further discuss my chocolate mousse emulsions. Today we are talking science. I promise to keep it mostly understandable. Just keep an open mind and roll with it. I promise that you can successfully make this at home with great results. Remember my Chocolate + Water = Chocolate Mousse posting? The purpose of that blog was to see if I could make a chocolate emulsion product that was 1:1/Chocolate:Water into a rich, decadent mousse like dessert. I did. I noticed there were some inconsistencies between by different recipes. Some were thin, some were too thick. I revisited this to get a better understanding and utilize the microscopes at school to better gauge exactly what kind of emulsions I was making. Knowing this provides insight with how thick/thin based on droplet size, and the droplet size range which tells me how well I mixed it.

When I first delved into making chocolate mousse emulsions, I looked at it more as a recipe of ingredients rather than a very precise processing with the right equipment. The right equipment not meaning some fancy expensive equipment. But rather the right equipment in terms of volume, materials, adequate mixing and temperatures. I will tell you once I get to the procedure....

I did this experiment were I kept the processing (precise making procedures) exactly the same for two very different chocolate mousse emulsions. Let's call them A and B. For A: 4 oz chocolate (I used semi-sweet chocolate chips) + 4 oz water + (sugar + salt to taste.) B:
4 oz chocolate + 4 oz chocolate soy milk. I thought that B would yield a more thicker, stable emulsion considering the soy milk is already an emulsion. Here's the Wiki definition of emulsion with some great diagrams. I define an emulsion to be a homogeneous suspension of two immiscible phases that is stabilized. To get a clear picture on my emulsions, I did some simple polarized light microscopy using the school (Cincy State) science lab microscopes. This picture is from my microscopy investigations. I thought that A would be a simple water in oil emulsion, and B could possibly be a 3 phase emulsion. That is oil droplets inside larger water droplets in the oil (chocolate) continuous phase. It turned out both A and B were 3 phase emulsions!!! I do not have any fancy high-shear mixers or controlled temperature jacketed containers in my kitchen, and yet I got some pretty amazing high-tech results. I am going to tell you know how you can do this in your home kitchen/lab. This chocolate mousse emulsion is amazing because you can make it as simple or as complicated as you would like and account for any dietary restrictions and ready to serve in 15 minutes. The most important thing about making this is having everything ready to go!

Equipment:
  • Scale
  • Thermometer (looking at 32F-212F/0C-100C range)
  • Rubber/Silicone spatula
  • Small saucepan
  • Stainless Steel Bain Marie (available at any restaurant supply stores for cheap)
  • Stick/Immersion blender, preferably with whip balloon attachment
  • Large ice bath for the bain marie
  • Serving cups
Procedure:
  1. Weigh up equal portions of Chocolate and Water (or milk, soy milk, rice milk, etc) into the small sauce pan. Add in sugar and salt as needed to taste.
  2. Slowly heat up over low-medium heat with stirring. Heat until Temperature = 195F/91C. It should appear to be homogeneous dark brown liquid.
  3. Pour/scape all contents into the bain marie and place into ice bath. Immediately start whipping with stick blender/whipper. KEY: the mixer should be significantly submerged into the liquid - if not, use a smaller bain marie/container or scale up your ingredients. Great thorough mixing here and make sure that the container is well surrounded by the ice bath. It should start to thicken about 60F and thicken more as the temperature decreases. Now it is a matter of personal preference on how thick you want it. Take it while cooling & mixing to your desired thickness. It is possible to get too thick - so watch it!
  4. Pour/scape into individual serving cups and put in the fridge to chill for serving. But this is not necessary. I have been know to serve the individual portions immediately in an ice bath. It's usually gone within a blink on an eye.
Try it! You can pretend you're a Chemist in the kitchen, too. Great Cooks are innately Chemists at heart.

-Erin Swing
The Sensitive Epicure

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Corn Fritters

Nothing says late summer / early fall than corn and tomatoes. Hm, how best to use this beautiful produce? In Southwest Ohio, we have some incredible corn and tomatoes. Lately, I've been obsessed with making fritters. They bring back some fond memories of my step father who made incredible corn fritters fresh from the farmer's market. He only bought corn and melons from Mr. Schneider from the farmers market near Lunken Airport. He only wanted the best. And so do I, even it is gluten free. Especially if it is gluten free.

First cook two ears of fresh corn until tender in salted water. Allow to cool to touch. Put into an ice bath if you tend to be impatient like me. Cut off the kernels as cleanly as possible. In a bowl, lightly beat an egg. Mix in the separated cooled corn kernels. Add in enough millet flour until the consistency of pancake batter. Season with salt and pepper. Warm a large non-stick or cast iron skillet with a small amount of oil over medium heat. Spoon out small pancake size portions into the skillet. Do not over crowd. Cook a couple of minutes until firm and cooked on edges before flipping. Cook another couple of minutes. Serve on top of a slice of tomato with thinned down sour cream with a touch of milk. Milk-free version would be tofu sour cream thinned with a little rice or soy milk. Garnish with fresh ground black pepper, ground chipotle, and fresh chives. I think my step father would have approved of these.

-Erin Swing
The Sensitive Epicure