Candied Beetroot and Grapefruit Lolly, ‘Edible Wrapper’
Specialty Equipment: dehydrator, pastry cutters, refractometer, mandolin
Specialty Ingredients: isomalt, yellow pectin, malic acid, grapefruit essential oil, glucose, powdered gelatine 200 Bloom, glycerine
Dish as in The Fat Duck: not found
I don’t really have anything special to say today. I’ve never heard of this dish and couldn’t find a thing, maybe a few words, on this dish on the internet. Oh, what did happen, I mixed up my hand for a chopping board and cut myself. Not seriously, but enough to cause a wound that would not be pleased with water. Therefore I cooked this dish, a pâte de fruit coated by candied beetroot discs and finished with a edible wrapper, and as soon as my wound heals I can go on with the book. The recipe instructs to chuck everything together for the fruit puree: grapefruit puree, yellow pectin, sugar, glucose and thyme and theb boil it to 69° Brix. I can’t say I own a refractometer, so I looked at other pâte de fruits recipes in the book and saw this instruction at the mandarin aerated chocolate recipe: ‘in the absence of a refractometer, heat it to 107°C.’ So that was my game plan.
Notice the space unused in the pan.
The mix has to boil to 107°C, which takes quite a long time, in my case about 5 minutes of complete mayhem in the pan. The puree came so high it was about to tip over the side of the pan. I divided the puree in 3 and below a picture of 2/3 of the mixture. It still came dangerously close to the top of the pan.
Checking the temperature with my thermometer.
Once the stuff reaches the desired temperature you have to turn of the heat. It almost immediately looses it air and returns to its original size. Not all that different from this creature. Now you have to act quickly and mix in malic acid and grapefruit essential oil and pass the boiled liquid trough a fine sieve into a baking tray before it starts to gel. In my haste I forgot to take a picture of this step. I’m still looking for a flat and square baking tray, so I used cake tins (spring form).
Oil and acid.
After it sets completely, about 2-3 hours, and is completely cool, about 4 hours, you can cut it in circles with a pastry cutter, but if you happen to be blessed with the ability to cut perfect circles your hands would of course suffice.
What was left after cutting lots of circles I cut in squares and dusted with fine granulated sugar and citric acid and ate like regular pâte de fruits.
Next up were the beetroot discs. These steps resembled the cauliflower carpaccio: cut them thinly on a mandolin and cut out circles. Before drying they are candied, by boiling isomalt and water to 74°C Brix and coat the discs with this sugary syrup. The problem was I had now clue what temperature it required to get to 74°C and there are no general rules for Brix=temperature, because every recipe will have different kinds of sugar, proportions etcetera. I boiled it and hoped at one point I got somehow a sign the mixture was at the right level, but strangely this didn’t happen. At 120°C it became thicker, and I took it off the heat. The isomalt was pretty stiff, even when quite hot, so I probably took it too far.
Coating the discs on both sides with boiled isomalt to candy them. The instructions ask for a tray lined with clingfilm, so in my curiosity I lined one with clingfilm and one without.
After drying the beetroot for 24 hours there was a clear difference between the two sets. The discs on the clingfilm, on the right, were shiny and the ones on the left lost all their glistering. The top side, not in contact with clingfilm, also loosed their glass like exterior, so there was only one, as the book calls it, ‘shiny side’. In my dehydrator it was impossible to get the discs completely crisp, even after a extended period in the dryer. My solution was putting them in a 100°C oven for a short period of time. To my amazement they were crisp in no time, meaning they probably only need a little more extra heat to crisp up. Anybody else experiences with drying stuff until crispy?
The last component are edible wrappers, made of powdered gelatine, glycerine and water. First you have to soak gelatine and glycerine in water until soft and heat the water gently to dissolve the powder.
This should be deposited on Petri dishes, but I completely forgot about them when shopping, so I used what I had on hand, which were dessert tins and a couple of grey, plastic, square dishes.
You have to deposit small amounts on dishes and dry them in a warm place. I know asking for a warm place in a kitchen is like asking for a cool place in Bruce Willis’s house, but I was fresh out of warm spots. So after a day they were still not dry and I became impatient and put them in the dehydrator. Not a good idea. They dried until there was nothing left and the wrapper was inseparable from his new best friend. Luckily I also put some of the mixture in a tarte tatin pan and left it out for 2,5-3 days in a ‘normal heated’ place.
The thing was that only certain area’s dried completely, so I was left with not that much wrapper to play with.
The stuff is extremely thin and nearly as strong as a hair of Superman, with the feature that it melts when you put it in your mouth. Fun stuff!
What ‘plastic’ I had left I cut with a warmed pastry cutter and knife.
A pâte de fruit harassed by a lolly stick.
Beetroot discs placed on either side. They attached easily to the lolly.
The edible wrapper around the lolly. I went for this look, because I thought it would look better than square shape pictured in the book (it didn’t).
The lolly was ok, the beetroot discs (dehydrated raw) were very strong and the combination with grapefruit and thyme was ok. What I can say if you make this dish, is NOT to leave out the grapefruit essential oil. I did this with 1/3 of the pâte de fruit to see what the oil brings to the table and I can say: a lot. It really boosts the flavour and without it thyme is all you taste. Maybe you could even use a bit less thyme. Also important is the crispness of the beetroot. I had problems getting them crunchy in the dehydrator and tried a lolly with ‘pliable’ discs and the beetroot flavour was much more intense. Really interesting what a difference it makes if the discs are not completely dry and crisp. There are other recipes with edible wrapper, so I will make them again, but if that was not the case I would make them again anyway. Mine were not perfect, but it is really fun having something that looks exactly like a wrapper and can be eaten. So far all the dishes have a certain twist or technique that makes them fun to cook and present to unsuspecting guinea pigs.