Chocolate Wine, Millionaire Shortbread
Specialty Equipment: centrifuge, water bath, pH meter
Specialty Ingredients: whey powder, glucose, gold powder
Dish as in The Fat Duck:
Look at this baby. It’s a Dewar flask with liquid nitrogen! I’ve been searching for liquid nitrogen for ages, calling restaurants and cookery schools, to ask if they used liquid nitrogen and if I could possibly visit them to complete two recipes from the book. Every request was turned down with either a ‘no’ or a ‘we don’t use that stuff’. I got to talk about it with my dad, and what do you know, the solution to my problem was close to home all along. He has contacts at the University of Utrecht, who use liquid nitrogen by the truckload. It was absolutely no problem to pick some up. Funny how some things play out.
A (possible) problem is the type of Dewar flask the liquid nitrogen is stored in (not one for long term storage) and its ability to ‘hold on to’ the liquid nitrogen. It was picked up Wednesday and I’m planning on using it Saturday to make the lime mouse and bacon & egg ice cream recipes with some friends, so I hope it will make it until then. Fingers crossed.
Not really related to liquid nitrogen, but related to the search of ingredients, does anyone have any knowledge on procuring fresh hearts of palm? I’ve found some suppliers in the States and contacted them, but didn’t get any responses. Has anyone ever bought hearts of palm and/or knows where you can get some?
Anyway, on with the dish at hand. Chocolate Wine and Millionaire Shortbread. I started with the wine part of the dish, consisting of Maury or Banyuls wine, Valrhona milk chocolate and skimmed milk. After combining the chocolate and wine you have to put it in a centrifuge to separate the solids from the liquid and toss the former. I could’ve contacted labs, but I must say even I’m not that crazy. In the end I settled on clarifying the chocolate mixture to get rid of the solids. There is definitely some flavor loss, but it’s way better than the loss of my bank account by buying a centrifuge.
Egg whites holding on to stuff.
The millionaire shortbread is a small 3-layer cake. The base is occupied by shortbread, salted butter caramel takes centre stage, chocolate and fleur de sel tops it all (I left out the coating of the salt crystals with gold powder). Layer 1 is straightforward. Layer 2 as well, although requiring more attention. Layer 3 is a bitch. It involves my biggest frustration of this book, working with chocolate. It’s safe to say the chocolate preparations gave me the most headaches and resulted all, with a few exceptions (components of dishes), in failure. Today was no different.
I tried to temper the chocolate by using my rice cooker, bringing the chocolate up and down in temperature in a controlled bath, but it turned out worst than every other attempt. After making the recipes from this book I’m more than happy to leave chocolate concoctions to professionals and only make the occasional safe chocolate cake.
Chocolate before it turned to shit.
To build the shortcake the recipe instructs to cut the layers individually in rectangles instead of stacking the layers on top of another and then cut it in rectangles. I found it incredibly difficult to cut every piece in exactly the same size, especially the caramel, which stretched out when handling it instead of giving a clear snap. When making this recipe you could try to stack the shortbread (when it comes out of the oven and is still warm) and caramel, and then cut it in rectangles to avoid handling the caramel on its own.
With the shortbread ready I heated the chocolate wine and frothed it with a milk frother. The instructions state to add whey powder to the wine to give it a silky texture and probably also help with the foam (there is a note in the instructions that whey powder is responsible for milk’s ability to foam). I thought whey powder shouldn’t be too hard to find in a dairy saturated country as the Netherlands. Wrong. The closest thing I found were whey powder mixes in bodybuilding shops, but there was, with no exception, all kinds of stuff added to the mixes including artificial flavorings. I added a bit of soy lecithin in the absence of whey powder to help with the aeration of the wine.
The shortbreads were far from perfect, but the photo above is not all flattering. Here’s a better one.
Chocolate wine is great. Really loved it. As for the millionaire shortbread, what can go wrong with shortbread, caramel and chocolate?