We’re a little late to the party on this one what with it being Friday and all, but it would be remiss not put something together for National Science Week here in Canberra.
We love being ahead of the culinary curve and constantly have our ears to the ground for new techniques and technologies to use in the kitchen. Turning oil into ‘snow’ has been around for a little while, but it’s the kind of thing that we all would have loved as kids in science classes, so that’s what we’re going to have a look at. It also give us the chance to point out that ‘snow’ features on several desserts of ours including this one:
and this one:
…and these ones:
For today’s lesson we will be making Peppermint Snow which is a great way to give dishes a subtle mintiness without making them taste sweeter in the process. Watch us go…
We were on a pruning bender recently in the Mint Garden Bar and were left with a good portion of mint stalks. In the spirit of waste not, want not we handed them over to chef, Johnon who promptly put them in a nice neutral flavoured oil bath and cranked the heat to exactly 72 degrees Celsius. At this temperature the oil opens up, taking on flavours more readily without burning, or cooking the flavour compounds in the mint itself. You get a smooth but subtle minty flavour this way
After we’ve let the whole thing cool and steep overnight, we give the oil a good straining through a sieve to get any impurities out of it and get a perfect snow – pure as the virgin snow if you will…
Next we add the secret ingredient, maltodextrin. It’s a starch, in this case derived from tapioca, that has ‘magical’ properties. It is absorbed by the body super quick so can aid in muscle recovery when combined with protein and it can give a fast energy boost when you need it, but we’re mostly concerned with the way it can absorb fats and oil. It can absorb more than it’s own weight in liquid!!
It’s time for a wee whisky, so to speak. Whipping the mixture around gets the absorption process going and the oil and the malto start to come together, clumping around the whisk.
Eventually the liquid mixture can be separated into the familiar snow ‘flakes’ that can be scattered lovingly over whatever our heart desires. The maltodextrin essentially allows us to use, what would have been a sauce, as a sprinkle seasoning. And it looks pretty special too.
Get out there and have an experiment with science in your kitchen. It will transform the way you look at certain ingredients and open up a whole new world of possibilities for that My Kitchen Rules audition tape you’ve been meaning to post in.