Crystallized Verbena Leaf

Ingredients

  • Verbena leaves 10 10
  • Egg whites, pasteurized 50 g 1.76 oz 9.09%
  • Superfine sugar 500 g 1 lb 1.6 oz 90.91%

Method

  1. Using a small brush, brush both sides of the leaves with a very thin layer of egg whites.
  2. Immediately afterward, place the leaves on top of the sugar and cover them with more sugar. Gently pick up the leaves and place them on a sheet pan lined with a nonstick rubber mat. Let dry for 24 hours.
  3. Once dry, the leaves can be held in an airtight container with silica gel packs for more than 1 year.

Variation

For crystallized anise hyssop leaves, substitute an equal amount of small anise hyssop leaves for the verbena.

the iSi cream whipper and the soda siphon

These are two different pieces of equipment with different uses but similar principles, which are to incorporate air into a product. The cream whipper does so with N2O-filled (nitrous oxide) chargers, and the soda siphon uses CO2 (carbon dioxide) chargers.

The cream whipper has many uses other than its original intended use, which was simply to make whipped cream to top off your coffee. It wasn’t until Ferran Adrià realized its potential and started using it to make cold foams, and eventually hot foams, that this thing just caught like wildfire. This book uses it for one item only (technically two if you count the micro génoise in the process shots for the Volcano Vaporizer), and that is to make bubble chocolate. This is one of my favorite ways to eat chocolate with nothing more added to it than a little oil and air. There is really no other way to incorporate air into chocolate in our kitchen environment than with the cream whipper.

I mentioned the micro génoise above, which is also a creation of Ferran Adrià and is frankly a brilliant idea. You put batter components in a canister and then aerate it with the N2O chargers instead of having to whip the eggs with a mixer and then fold the dry ingredients in by hand. Now, it is a great concept and the finished product is visually arresting, but some feel that the flavor is not as good when compared with a regular génoise.

The soda siphon is also used in this book, once, to carbonate an encapsulated sphere of lemon soda (see page 209). The idea was to make a gel of lemon soda, which would lose its carbonation eventually, and resolve that issue by re-carbonating it using the soda siphon. Theoretically you can carbonate anything that is moist. It doesn’t mean that you should carbonate everything you come across (fizzy oysters, anyone?), but carbonating a Champagne gelée is a terrific idea. Carbonated drinks do not stay carbonated for long once their containers are opened. You can keep a gelée carbonated in a siphon for many hours. Now that is a desirable texture.

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