Chow Bella

The Metric System, Chantilly Cream, and French Fairies on FoodLab 2010 (Part 3 of 7)

Molecular gastronomy (not the after-effect of eating too many black bean, spicy sausage and cheese nachos) is a scientific discipline that studies the physical and chemical processes that occur while cooking. In this seven-part series, we're using our love of food and Carl Sagan to create molecular masterpieces of deliciousness as newly indoctrinated chef-chemists, or "chemefs." Pray for us.

Since last week's dismal outcome of caviar of red fruit, we've convinced ourselves first-time failure could have been first-time fluke. That said, we're giving the Frenchies at Cuisine Innovation and their presumptuous metric system science kit a second go of it. Today's adventure: Coco jelly, mango compote and chantilly -- whatever the hell that is.

Recipe 2: Coco Jelly, Mango Compote and Chantilly

According to the brochure, some sort of transformation happens to agar-agar (a gelatinous substance derived from seaweed) when boiled, then cooled down. It dissolves, then "jellifies," becoming brittle and slightly opaque.

Got it: Seaweed stuff turns crispy and cloudy. Next.

The ingredients are printed in yellow, making them nearly impossible to read, (sigh).

Tools and Ingredients:

Seriously, what the hell is chantilly? According to Google, it's a commune in the Oise department in northern France, a medium size, longhair domestic cat breed, a town and holiday resort in Picardy, France or lace.

Let's try...chantilly, cooking. Oh, here it is, chantilly cream - a sweetened whipped cream, sometimes vanilla-flavored. Well, what do you know. I guess if we would have just made our eyes tear up a moment longer while we were attempting to read the ingredients printed in yellow on the brochure, we would have noticed that "whipped cream" was placed under the word "chantilly." No worries. Moving on.

The rest of the ingredients seem do-able: Coconut milk, sugar, diced mango, pepper. Unfortunately, our butter and sugar, don't seem to have received the memo from Cuisine Innovations that they're worth as ingredients is being measured with the metric system, but we've anticipated this and have printed out a conversion chart in the spirit of world unity.

The Process and Outcome:

The process was easy, the portions, no picnic. Unless science had some sort of biblical-like theory of turning 100 ml. of coconut juice into service for six, we could only imagine French dessert lovers were really just tiny, magical fairies eating treats from thimbles and washing it all down with the morning dew. That was, until we noticed the disclaimer located on another part of the page stating the recommended quantity was more than we had in our kit packet. Not cool, Frenchies, not cool.

Other than that, the result was rather tasty. No brittleness to the agar-agar, but tasty nonetheless.

FoodLab 2010 Report Card: Coco Jelly, Mango Compote and Chantilly
Food Grade: B
Science Grade: B+

Yay! We've been rejuvenated with new enthusiasm for food and science babies! Stay tuned, next week we'll be making. . . Instant Choco Custard, Get 27® Spaghetti. . .? Goddammit.

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Laura Hahnefeld
Contact: Laura Hahnefeld