Posts Tagged ‘cocoa’

TGRWT #15: Smoked salmon in cocoa gel with lime

Sunday, March 1st, 2009

The TGRWT #15 challenge was to pair smoked salmon with dark chocolate. I decided to encase a piece of hot-smoked salmon in a cocoa gel and serve it with sugared slices of lime. But as you can see from the pictures quite a lot went wrong… But it tasted quite nice!
(more…)

TGRWT #13: Caraway and chocolate

Saturday, December 6th, 2008

According to Google trends searches for chocolate peak every December (plus that special day in February), and I assume that consumption of chocolate follows the same pattern. For this month’s They go really well together event (TGRWT #13) Erik Fooladi over at Fooducation has chosen to pair chocolate with caraway. So if you plan to cook or bake with chocolate (or cocoa) in December – why not add some caraway and see how it turns out? It’s time to spice up your Christmas desserts! Surprise your guests and let us all know how it worked out.

If you can’t figure out what to make, try the chocolate sauerkraut cake I blogged about last year. It was quite successful and I figured out that one possible reason for the success was the fact that sauerkraut contains caraway which goes well with chocolate (and cognac).

More information about how to participate can be found in Erik’s announcement post of TGRWT #13.

TGRWT #7: Cocoa frico with cauliflower cream

Sunday, October 28th, 2007

cauliflower-cocoa-8.jpg

For this month’s TGRWT I wanted to make a cauliflower cream and serve it with something crispy. Considering the fact that cocoa and parmesan are also a good match I googled for parmesan crisps and found a nice recipe for “frico” – Italian parmesan crisps. The cauliflower cream was invented in the process of making it.

Cocoa frico
40 g parmesan, grated
2 t cocoa

Mix parmesan and cocoa. Divide into six portions on a parchment paper (use cake rings with a diameter of approx 9 cm). Bake for 4 min at 175 °C. Leave to cool. If made to thick, the fricos will be chewy rather than crispy.

cauliflower-cocoa-3.jpg
Grate parmesan and mix with cocoa.

cauliflower-cocoa-4.jpg
Transfer to parchment paper.

cauliflower-cocoa-5.jpg
After baking the fricos look like this – let them cool for a couple of minutes before handle them.

cauliflower-cocoa-6.jpg
If you want to make “baskets”, invert them over a wine cork or something similar.

Cauliflower cream
1/2 cauliflower, in slices
2.5 dL water
1.5 dL sour cream
2 t salt
1 t xanthan

Cut cauliflower in pieces and spread on aluminum foil. Bake for 40 min at 175 °C. Add water to cauliflower and pureé with immersion blender until smooth. Add sour cream, salt and xanthan and blend. Pass through a fine sieve and transfer to a 1/2 L whipper and charge with nitrous oxide. Note: To use up this portion of cauliflower cream makes you’ll have to make 20-30 cocoa fricos!

cauliflower-cocoa-2.jpg
Caramelized cauliflower with nicely browned edges.

To serve, place frico on plate, fill with cauliflower cream and sprinkle with pepper.
cauliflower-cocoa-7.jpg
The baskets were a little to large to grab, and impractical to eat with a knife and a fork. The flat half-moon pictured at the top of this post was easier to eat just using the fingers.

Verdict: A nice appetizer! Fricos have a strong parmesan flavour with a hint of cocoa. Aromas blend well, but the dish could need some kind of freshness added to it – Any suggestions?

TGRWT #7: Caramelized cauliflower and cocoa

Sunday, October 7th, 2007

tgrwt-7.png

Get ready for the next round of TGRWT! The seventh round is hosted by Papin at Flavor alchemy who chose to pair caramlized cauliflower and cocoa. An easy way to caramelize cauliflower is to cut it in 2 cm thick slices (many of them will fall apart – that’s OK) and bake them at 200 °C for approx. 30 min. You can sprinkle the pieces with olive oil and salt, but this is not absolutely necessary.

cauliflower-cocoa-jelly.jpg

It is a truly delicious combination, and I’ve published a simplified recipe for caramelized cauliflower and cocoa jelly, based on a recipe published by Heston Blumenthal. What is fascinating about the combination is that after I’ve tasted the two together, caramelized cauliflower on it’s own reminds me of cocoa.

For an extra boost of inspiration, visit Inge’s round-up of TGRWT #6 (part 1, part 2) which featured many delicious combinations of apple and lavender.

Two flavour pairing case studies

Saturday, May 5th, 2007

In previous posts and comments I have suggested that flavour pairings based on key odorants could be explored by looking at odor activity values (= ratio of volatile compound to it’s threshold). If two foods share one or more key odorants, chances are that they will go well together. It is also reasonable to assume that the more key odorants are shared, the more similar the flavours will be and the more likely it is that the foods will blend well and match each other.

Having initiated the TGRWT event I figured I should try to see if there was any OAV data available for coffee, chocolate and garlic. I was lucky to find OAVs for coffee (both arabica and robusta beans) and cocoa. To compare coffee and cocoa I sorted the flavour compounds in a descending order based on the OAV, keeping only the 20 first compounds. I turned out that 7 out of 20 key odorants in coffee and cocoa are shared, corresponding to 28/25% and 39% respectively of the total “odor activity” (= sum of OAV of top 20 odorants). Here’s the whole list:

coffee-chocolate-oav.jpg
(I hope the authors stuck to the IUPAC naming conventions as I did not take the time to check if synonyms were present in the compounds lists)

To compare this with a random pairing I search for more OAVs and found data for parmigiano reggiano and mango, so I repeated the excercise. Among the 20 odorants with the highest OAVs respectively for coffee and mango there was no overlap. A neglibile overlap was found between cocoa and mango: one odorant (linalool) was present in both with OAVs corresponding to 0.03% and 0.05% of the “odor activity” respectively. The fact that there is no overlap between coffee or cocoa and mango does not imply that they don’t go well together, only that their key odorants don’t match. Parmigiano reggiano and cocoa however had a lot in common, as seen from the table below. In fact 6 out of 20 key odorants, representing 36% and 89% of the “odor activity” for parmigiano reggiano and cocoa respectively.

parmesan-cocoa-oav.jpg

The degree of overlap between parmesan and cocoa is in fact better than for coffee and chocolate when judging by the percentages (albeit with one less odorant), so this pairing will certainly be included in a future TGRWT event! A quick google search revealed that chef Masaharu Morimoto has come up with a recipe combining cocoa and parmesan:

Chocolate Carbonara with Parmigiano Reggiano Cream

Chocolate Pasta:
1 pound all-purpose flour
4 eggs
½ cup cocoa powder
1 Tablespoon olive oil

Pasta Sauce:
2 cups cream
4 egg yolks
½ cup sugar
½ cup Parmigiano Reggiano

For the Chocolate Pasta:
Sift flour and cocoa powder together and knead in the eggs and olive oil for 15 minutes. Rest for another fifteen minutes then roll and cut in a pasta machine. Heat up a pot of lightly salted water and boil pasta until al dente.

For the Pasta Sauce:
In a medium sauce pot scald the cream. In a separate bowl, whisk together egg yolks, Parmigiano Reggiano, and sugar. Temper this mixture into the hot cream and bring to a light simmer, whisking constantly to prevent curdling.

Unfortunately I couldn’t find any OAVs for garlic, so I haven’t been able to verify the triple pairing forming the basis for TGRWT #1. The claim was that coffee has dimethyl sulfide in common with garlic, and methyl pyrazine in common with chocolate. The table above confirms that coffee and chocolate have several methyl pyrazines in common, but dimethylsulfide is not among the 20 key odorants in coffee. This puzzles me, but there could of course be other volatile compounds that garlic shares with coffee. There should also be quite a difference between raw garlic (not to mention between whole, crushed and possibly even minced) and roasted garlic. If I overlooked something (or perhaps a paper with OAVs for garlic), please drop me an email about this. The OAVs of garlic could easily be calculated if data on volatile compounds in garlic and threshold concentrations are available.

I did a search on coffee, cocoa and garlic on The Good Scents Company website as described previously and found the following compounds either naturally occuring or used for recreating the aroma of coffee, cocoa and garlic:

  • 5-methyl furfural (found naturally in all three, used for coffee and garlic)
  • benzothiazole (found naturally in cocoa, used in all three)
  • 2-furfuryl mercaptan (found naturally in coffee, used in coffee, garlic cocoa)
  • isovaleraldehyde (found naturally in coffee and cocoa, used in all three)
  • ethyl methyl sulfide (found naturally in coffee and cocoa, used in coffee and garlic)
  • bis(2-methyl-3-furyl) disulfide (used in all three)
  • butyraldehyde (found naturally in all three)
  • S-(methyl thio) butyrate (used in all three)
  • isopropyl mercaptan (found naturally in garlic, used in coffee and cocoa)
  • So there are obviously similarities similarities between coffee, chocolate and garlic, but the question is whether these compounds are key odorants or not.

    It’s only fair enough to add that the concept of odor activity values has it’s limitations. Some are related to matrix effects, because thresholds are not necessarily recorded in a matrix mimicking the food product. Possible synergies between flavour compounds are disregarded (examples are known where sub-threshold concentrations are detected in the presence of other volatile compounds). Also, the underlying assumption that the odor intensity increases linearily is not quite correct. The typical intensity vs. concentration curve is more ‘S’ shaped with an expansive, linear and compressive region as shown below. At low concentrations (expansive region) synergism (also known as hyperadditivity or mutual enhancement) is observed. At high concentrations (compressive region) antagonism (or subadditivity or mutual suppresion) is observed. This means that a high OAV overestimates and a low OAV underestimates the impact of the individual compounds. This also means that the odor activity percentages calculated for the pairings above should be take with a pinch of salt. In between these extremes normal additivities are observed.

    intensity-vs-concentration.jpg

    Even though OAVs are not phsychophysical measures of the perceived odor intensity, they compare quite well with models that take different aspects of sensing into accout. The validity of the found OAV can also be tested by a recombination of the flavour compounds to see how good it imitates the original product studied. I can recommend the freely downloadable article “Evaluation of the Key Odorants of Foods by Dilution Experiments, Aroma Models and Omission” (DOI: 10.1093/chemse/26.5.533) for those interested in reading more about the science.

    Despite the drawbacks and limitations I think OAVs can and will be helpful when studying the flavour pairing hypothesis.

    Tips: You can read more about OAVs in books which are (partly) available through Google books.

    TGIF: Molecular chocolate

    Thursday, March 1st, 2007

    chocolate-theobromine.jpg

    When eating this chocolate, you eat a molecular model of what you are eating (well, at least one of it’s components) – theobromine!

    It’s the brainchild of two Belgians, chocolatier Pierre Marcolini and furniture designer Dirk Meylaerts. More info on the Belgian and US website.

    The taste scheme used for the different elements does not seem to be quite consistent (i.e. each element represented by a unique color):

  • Carbon: matte brown (crunchy shell)
  • Nitrogen: golden (mixture of caramel, roasted pineapple and praline) + bronze (bitter ganache with gingerbread notes)
  • Hydrogen: white (milk chocolate ganache flavoured with raz-el-hanout, sheathed in white chocolate) + bronze (bitter ganache with gingerbread notes)
  • Oxygen: shiny dark brown (blend of chocolate and caramel ganache with a touch of tonka bean)
  • chocolate-theobromine-assigned.jpg

    [Via Inkling Magazine]

    Scientific chocolate tasting kits

    Monday, February 19th, 2007

    Dominique & Cindy Duby, chocolatiers based in Canada, have put together two “scientific chocolate tasting kits” (one, two). Some of the science behind is explained in their “tasting notes” (copy the text into a wordprocessor to read it). For a review of the first kit, check out Rob and Rachel’s blogpost over at Hungry in Hogtown.

    The kits illustrate the use of various hydrocolloids to produce foams, gels, dispersions, emulsions and pearls. The principle of flavor pairing is illustrated and binary taste interactions are explored. They also include experiments to explore crunchy vs. soft textures. Each kit comes with four different experiments and enough ingredients to make 8 servings. Furthermore they let you serve every experiment at two different tempereatures. This is neat because is allows you to explore the great influence temperature has on texture and aroma. Each kit sells for $125 – expensive yes, but from the presentation it seems like a good bundle.

    Science tasting kit no. 1
    skv05.jpg

    The following is illustrated in kit no. 1:

      Experiment 1: foaming of pectin and gelatin gels, spherification of a fruit juice/chocolate emulsion (there’s no info on this, but I guess the spherification is alginate based)
      Experiment 2: explore how temperature influences sweet and bitter tastes, make a chocolate emulsion (with cream, strawberry juice, wine, cocoa butter and oil) and serve it at two different temperatures
      Experiment 3: explore the fact that “taste” is 80% smell, illustrate how salt can suppress bitterness, use a special powder made from an aromatic liquid and maltodextrin which is then dried under vacuum with microwaves (sort of like freeze drying, only this uses microwaves in stead)
      Experiment 4: Hervé This’ double dispersion chocolate “cake” made with chocolate and egg white foam which is set in a microwave oven (described in his Angewante Chemie article on molecular gastronomy), short lived crunchy texture, flavor pairing is illustrated by combining cumin and coffe with chocolate

    Science tasting kit no. 2
    skv06.jpg

    Kit no. 2 starts of by exploring culinary “equations” which are remarkably similar to (yet somewhat less comprehensive than) the CDS formalism described by Hervé This elsewhere. The following is illustrated in the second kit:

      Experiment no. 1: a “whisky” is constructed from ethanol lignin, aromatic aldehydes, sugars, acetic acid, oak flavor, vanilin, malt etc.
      Experiment no. 2: ice cream is made without churning using foamed egg whites to incorporate air (is this what Italians refer to as a frozen parfait?)
      Experiment no. 4: meringues floating on a pool of custard sauce drizzled with caramel

    If you’d rather reverse engineer the dishes, my list of hydrocolloid suppliers might come handy. The “tasting notes” also gives you some hints if you want to have a go on your own.