Thursday, February 2, 2012

Custard Fail

Day Two of Thing a Day was a total fail!  However, I still tried to make something, and I am also going to make some granola tonight, so I think it still counts as a creative day.

Because my recipe wasn't successful, I will just give you a quick rundown of what I tried to do.

Step 1: Make custard
Buy a box of Jello custard mix, add one and a half cups milk, half a cup of cream, one beaten egg yolk, cinnamon, ground cloves and nutmeg. Bring to a boil, then let cool in the fridge for at least an hour.

Mistake #1: I think I should have used some sort of liquid custard from the looks of the recipe (no idea where to get a liquid custard?  Maybe the custard mixture without letting it set?).  My custard was too chunky.
However, the custard was absolutely delicious, so even though the raviolis were a disaster, I am still very much enjoying the custard.

Step 2: Make the alginate bath.
Add one packet sodium alginate to two cups of water.  Mix with an immersion blender, then put in the fridge for 15 minutes.

This is pretty hard to mess up.

Step 3: Prepare the custard.
Pour 1/4 cup of milk into a bowl.  Add 1/2 teaspoon calcium lactate and stir well.  Add 2/3 cup of custard.

Mistake #2: My custard looked too think, so I added a few more splashes of milk.  Maybe a little more than a few...apparently proportions matter.

Step 4:  Make pearls. 
Using a teaspoon, dollop the custard mixture into the alginate bath.  Let pearls sit for three minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon and rinse in a rinsing bath (water).

Mistake #3: Do not overload the alginate bath.  Pearls will stick together and as you try to separate them, they will break.  Then, you will have a gellish/hellish mess of custard that is impossible to separate from the alginate solution, forcing you to either discard your entire alginate bath or attempt to fish out the custard strands (the latter method I have deemed impossible and the former is a waste of additives).

Step 5: Say screw it and drink your custard out of the bowl.  Tomorrow, attempt yogurt pearls instead - yogurt starts out a little thinner.  It has got to work!

So basically, the custard pearls acted like vampires that can't see the light, except they were pearls that couldn't emerge from the water.  Each time, I thought I had it figured out and as soon as the pearls came above the waterline, I could see a hole that suddenly appeared in the "shell" and the custard would ooze everywhere.

Here are some things I tried that didn't fix it:
1) Do only a few pearls at a time to make sure they don't stick together and then break because they had to be separated

2) Do smaller pearls to make them easier to grab out of the water - I tried both a half teaspoon and a dropper size.  Negative results for both.  Also of note was the smaller the pearls were, the worse they tasted because they were covered in a noticeable alginate slime.

3) Let pearls sit in water for twice as long - 6 minutes instead of 3 minutes. This made no apparent difference.

I have no idea what went wrong, but that is part of the fun of it.  To be honest, I didn't think yesterday's recipe would go well at all and I was shocked at how easy it was.

Now that I know it doesn't always work, it will be more interesting when I try to make it work with yogurt tomorrow.  I wonder if there will be any other tweaks to make it successful. Tim Gunn will be standing over my shoulder - "Make It Work."

On a similiar note, I think week one is going to be all spherification recipes.  Just so we are all on the same page, spherification is "the process of shaping liquid into spheres which visually and texturally resemble caviar." The technique dates back to the 1950's, so it isn't anything too futuristic. 

Wish me better luck tomorrow!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Kudo's for trying!! It counts! Better luck tomorrow! Maybe the alginate wasn't mixed up enough, or left to sit long enough...who know's...