Posts Tagged ‘microwave’

Copenhagen MG seminar: Food and science fun (part 6)

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

How much does air weigh? With a balloon and a microwave oven you can easily find out says Peter Barham.

Peter Barham’s presentation at the MG seminar in Copenhagen focused on how food can be used to make students interested in physics and chemistry (not a bad thing, especially since 2011 is the International Year of Chemistry) -Most people think science is boring and difficult, he said. But demos can help bring science to life, and believe it or not – experiments are much better when they go wrong. Using balloons, champagne, potatoes and liquid nitrogen Peter Barham proved his point. (more…)

Mai Tai flavored cocktail vauquelin

Tuesday, March 4th, 2008

Recently I received an email from Thorsten Spickenreuther, a German PhD student, who inspired by my post on vauquelins asked me whether I had made any cocktail flavored vauquelins yet. I gave him the details of what I had tried and encouraged him to experiment a little. Here’s a report which he sent me (and allowed me to share with you):

Cocktail Vauqueline – First Experiment

I started off with just one egg white and slowly added up to 100ml of almond syrup (i.e. water & sugar) and about 50ml of lime juice (i.e. acid) because the end result should be a Mai Tai flavoured Vauqueline. As it was already 2 am, my motivation for using a whisk was rather low, so my electric mixer had to do the job. Moreover, i didn’t have a metal bowl at hand, so the increase in volume was not as big as may have been expected – the result was about 1.5 liters of firm, stiff egg white foam.

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As my silicon moulds survive my microwave without problems, i thought ,,Why not using them here to get a nice pyramid shape for the planned Mai Tai flavoured dessert?” No sooner said than done, and after 8 seconds at 440W, the result looked quite nice. The volume increased a little and the foam maintained its shape very well. The pyramids came out of the moulds easily and even could be cut by pressing a spatula to the blade of a knife, cut and then separate (a two blade knife? …slightly reminds me of a Dire Straits song…). Using smaller moulds (hemispheres) was no problem, too.

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Okay, now we have a nice foam with an abundantly sweet’n’sour and almondy taste. But this is not Mai Tai yet and Trader Vic would turn in his grave. So we need at least some rum and a dash of orange curac¸ao. Adding the liquor (40-50ml), the foam broke down a little, but regained its firmness after a while of whisking and the final result was like before. I even did a quick-and-dirty dessert-decoration by adding caramelized kiwi slices and a bit of thickened passion fruit sauce.

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Oh… yes…… most important: The taste was excellent. You have to be a bit careful with the quantity of the syrup so the ,,drink” doesn’t get too sweet, but the Cocktail Vauqueline experiment sure was a success. You also have to be careful with the liquor – a further increase left me with a flowing mass and i wasn’t able to get a firm foam again, even after a long time of whisking (this may also be due to the long time of standing, the plastic bowl and the electric mixer with rather thick wires). For the future, i’m going to try some other cocktail flavours and how using fatty components like cream of coconut affects the stability of the foam in the end. I think the cocktail combination is suited best for creamy and juicy cocktails (i.e. ,,fancies”) but i will try something like Cuba Libre and Gin Fizz, too (although i think the ,,jelly-approach” is better for this type of cocktails). An interesting experiment would also be to use an iSi Whip with N2O charging to speed up the creation process.


If you want to contact Thorsten directly he can be reached by email on sylance [at] web [dot] de.

Egg white foam + microwave = Vauquelin

Sunday, February 4th, 2007

By beating air into an egg white you can increase it’s volume by a factor of approximately 8. Hervé This has shown that water is the limiting component. By adding more water you can significantly increase the volume. Addition of sugar further stabilises the foam by increasing the viscosity of the water. A very simple dessert kan be made by whisking egg whites with sugar and berries of your choice. In Norway we refer to this as “Troll cream”. There’s more on this over at An interesting question for you to ponder upon is in what order egg whites, berries and sugar should be mixed to maximize the volume!

But there is more to such a foam than trolls! For the following experiment, use one eggwhite and a berry syrup of your choice – I used a blueberry syrup (approximately 1,5 dL). Start by whisking the egg white. Add the syrup slowly over 5-10 min while constantly whisking. Observe how the volume increases dramatically. When I did the experiment I got roughly 2 L of foam (which corresponds to a 40-50 fold increase in volume). Make sure you use a clean bowl, preferably one of metal as fats and oil cling very well to plastic bowls.


Now comes the fun part: Put some of the egg white foam onto a plate and place it in a microwave oven to make the proteins set! Hervé This described this in a recent article and decided to name this dish “Vauquelin” after the french pharmacist and chemist Louis Nicolas Vauquelin. It does take some experimentation to find a proper combination of the power setting and the time needed for the Vauquelin to set. If you overdo it, the foam will just collapse. I used the 360W setting and 4 seconds for the Vaquelin in the picture below.


Cutting through the Vauquelin with a knife leaves a trace which does not refill.


Scooping out with a spoon also gives you an impression of the texture.


Instead of blueberry syrup you can try other liquids. Hervé This suggests orange juice or cranberry juice (both require addition of sugar). Liquours also work fine (although my experimentation suggests that the volume increases somewhat less), but remember to add sugar as this stabilises the foam and rounds of the taste.