Molecular Gastronomy is a term that has gotten alot of attention over the years. A more fitting term is modern cuisine, but whatever you call it you have definitely heard of emulsification, spherification, foam and powders! For those of you that think it is about using “unnatural additives” you have another thing coming to you. All of the additives used in modern cuisine are plant derived, and furthermore you are already consuming them in your everyday food products, you just don’t realize it. I’ll explain more below.
For now, lets talk about powders. One of the easiest things to make is powders using Tapioca Maltodextrin, but before delving deep lets talk about what is Tapioca Maltodextrin, where it comes from and how it works!
Maltodextrin is quite simply a food starch. Most starches like flour take in and can thicken water and sauces. Maltodextrin does the opposite. It absorbs and thickens fats. It actually hates water and will turn into goo on contact. On a more molecular level, Maltodextrin is a dextrose (plant sugar) polysaccharide. Polysaccharides are long carbohydrates made of monosaccharides (repeating units). They are able to encapsulate the oil and hold it within the powder until it comes in contact with water and then it releases the fat/oil. The polysaccharides form a 3D network that entrap the oil droplets and don’t let them move, hence stabilizing the emulsification.
Maltodextrin can be derived from different plant starch sources, the most common being from corn in the US, wheat in Europe and the other from tapioca. Tapioca is processed from dried cassava roots (native plant of South America) and is used for cooking in different cuisines. That tapioca maltodextrin is the one you need for creating powders. The corn maltodextrin is more commonly found in soda, beer, and even salad dressing. It is used in beer to improve the smooth mouth feel and it is used in salad dressing to prevent separation of the oil and water.
The Tapioca Maltodextrin has no taste to a slightly sweet taste. It is sold as a white powder, or in flakes or spheres. Usually you need to parts Maltodextrin to one part oil to create a good powder. Also never store it uncovered, always in a sealed container. Some ideas for some powders you can easily create are: nutella, peanut butter, olive oil, caramel, truffle oil and whatever else you can think of. Made some lately? Share your link below so I can check it out.
Trying to deconstruct a vinaigrette? Or maybe just add a little whimsy to a dish? This olive oil powder is perfect for that. Its super easy to make. You just need some tapioca maltodextrin and some olive oil. I explain the properties of the maltodextrin in my peanut butter powder post & more recently in a full description on the science behind Maltodextrin.
What you need is:
- 4 g tapioca maltodextrin
- 10 g olive oil
Add the maltodextrin and olive oil to a food processor.
Just let it whhhiirrrl and you got yourself olive oil powder. Easy peazy right?
You can plate it up anyway depending what your trying to do.
Have you tried to make any powders? If so what kind?
My last Molecular Gastronomy post I made nutella powder using tapioca maltodextrin as part one of this dessert. I wanted to create a sort of deconstructed banana nutella crepe.
So to start you just need the nutella powder, a medium banana, teaspoon sugar (or more if you want it more sweet), 1/3 cup milk (or more if you like it creamy) and 1g agar agar.
Puree the banana.
Put it on the stove. Add the agar agar, milk, sugar and bring to a simmer.
Make sure to keep whisking since the agar can tend to clump.
Pour it into a mold or bowl or plate or whatever. I wanted to make cylinders so I poured it into a paper cup that I cut after to remove the block. Then I used a small cookie cutter to cut out a cylinder.
Best way to present these are in a spoon, so you just end up putting everything
I had my hubby taste it without knowing what it is. He was a little worried at first, but after it was in his mouth he let out an “mmmmm..” which is always a good thing. He said it tastes like a banana split! Have people try it without telling them what it is and watch their reactions. Its so much fun!
P.S. My NIKON CAMERA GIVEAWAY is still going on here.
Tapioca Maltodextrin is SUPER easy to work with. You just have to understand a couple of main concepts to be successful at creating a powder and not turning it into goo.
I talk briefly about it in the beginning of this post and in full depth in my What is Maltodextrin & How to Use It post. Basically, you have to use it with something fat based that has no water in it. Examples: Peanut butter, Tahini, and Nutella!
I played around with the peanut butter before in this post. This time it was my beloved Nutella’s turn. I mean, who doesn’t love nutella?
The amount of maltodextrin you use should be 40% of how much nutella you use.
In my case I did 10g nutella, 4 g maltodextrin (I only wanted a small amount). Sometimes I find you can get away with adding less.
The rest is simple. Just put them in a processor and blend away.
Till you get the consistency you want. Some say to pass it thru a seive. I haven’t found this necessary.
Its also best to store the powder so it doesn’t dry it. I put mine in test tubes.
Classic flavor combo : nutella and bananas. More to come in another post.
One tube broke. There is beauty in destruction at times.
Sprinkle this on anything, or just carry it around and enjoy it like a pixie stick.
It’s so easy to make foams. Its very simple, and requires only 2 things, an Immersion blender and Lecithin. It’s my first video so forgive me I had to harass you with my voice since its easier to show the process via video than pictures.
Most chefs use an iSi canister to create foams, but now you can easily make it at home. Top any drink off, or add to any dish. If you happen to have liquid nitrogen on hand, dip some in, and you’ll have a crusty outer shell with a foamy soft interior. Now you try it, soy sauce, lime juice, chicken stock, lol, the sky is the limit!
Before I go into my latest molecular gastronomy shinanigans I want to take a moment to explain some of the properties of Tapioca Maltodextrin and Agar Agar, the 2 main components I worked with for this recipe.
- makes powders
- hates water (becomes gooey with any trace)
- only works with fatty products, low water content
- must never be left uncovered
- must be 40% of final prouct. Meaning if you use 200g for eg of peanut butter, you must use 40% of 200g, which is 80g maltodextrin
- works by absorbing fat and holding it in the powder, to be released on water contact ie. your tongue
- Read a full description on MALTODEXTRIN
- red algae extract
- forms gels
- sugar is a promoter
- sets 35-45 degrees celcius
- melts 80- 90 degrees celcius
- dries out if left uncovered. can rehydrate if left in water
- must make up at least 0.2% of final product, depending on how firm you want it to be
You can find out alot more (where i got most of this info) via this great primer of hydrocolloids on Khymos.org.
So, on to my fooling around
I wanted to have a play on the traditional peanut butter and jelly, by making it taste exactly like that but look completely different. I figured a noodle inspired dish was the way to go, so strawberry noodles with peanut butter ‘parmesan’ powder on top. It also plays with the noodles being red like they had marinara in them or something. Maybe i’m stretching.
Here we go!
Started off with 6 tablespoons strawberry spread, and 200 ml water.
Let the strawberry jelly melt in the simmering water, then strain.
Measure out around 1.5 g Agar and bring the mixture back up to a boil.
I used a squeezy bottle to inject the strawberry jelly liquid into a tube. Make sure to do all this while the liquid is warm/hot so it doesnt start setting on you.
Place the tube in some icewater and let it cool for a few minutes till it all sets.
Grab a food processor, add 20 g peanut butter, and 8 g tapioca maltodextrin, and let it rip, scraping off any peanut butter on the sides.
You should be left with a powder. If its still not as powdery as you like you can add a little more maltodextrin.
I used a syringe to push out the noodles from the tube.
Loosely plated them with the peanut butter sprinkled on top.
Decided to try out some bread with it.
So, i just added some to the plate. Now in this first preperation, my noodles didn’t come out as chewy as i wanted so it was easy to mop them up with the bread spheres.
This is what a mini bread with the jelly and peanut butter powder looked like. It tasted absolutely like a PBJ sandwich!
Next, I added a bit more agar, so it was maybe like 2g total, and the strawberry jelled harder and was more noodle like. I think next time I would add a bit less so its a bit softer to maybe loop around in the middle of a bowl to make it really look like noodles.
Decided against the random display and wanted a cleaner look. So, I lined them up.
Sprinkled some peanut butter crack on top!
Was very happy with the final product. This is a really straightforward recipe for a beginner. I think the agar amount still needs a little tweaking, but the powder was spot on! Please rate this so I get an idea if people like it