More recently I have seen a number of innovative crisps and dried meringue-like products on dishes, menus and the like. I believe these sightings are what sparked me to revisit our old friend foam. Here is a link to whipped prickly pear which we then sauteed in a pan to crisp the outside and have the inside set. It is kind of like a pancake to the extreme although in reality it is not a pancake at all. It is a whipped product which we were able to saute. The problem was the consistency. It was really neat cutting through the outside, yet the temperature and the moisture in the inside made the texture a bit rough on the palate. In fact, the prickly pear base before it was whipped resembled something off the set of Ghostbusters.
Back to yesterday. The rain was coming down and my mind was wandering. I was thinking about our upcoming trip to Napa and sifting through the many ideas which we conceptualized and never carried through to completion. One of those was the sauteed foam. Then the two thoughts finally came together, the cross referencing the foam and the meringue-like crisps which had piqued my fancy. If the foam could take the heat like a whipped egg white, then it could be baked in the oven, and if we did it slowly enough to remove the moisture, theoretically I would be left with a lofty flavored crisp.
And so into the kitchen I went. I made a base flavored with mastic, whipped it and then spread it on a silpat and baked it in a 200 degree oven. After several hours of baking the result was a light, crispy, delicately flavored product that actually melted on the tongue. Really it almost has the texture of something freeze dried. Imagine the way that those dried, crunchy fruits and vegetables rehydrate and then seem to collapse in your mouth, the crisp had that same type of effect. However, in actuality all we did was dry out flavored water. It was a good first step, now we wanted something just a little bit more. What if we used a passionfruit base or bacon or truffle or ginger or onion or...? You get my point. And then I wondered about using a thicker medium? What if we blended in yogurt and dried that? And if yogurt works, what other fatty, creamy mediums could then be used: foie gras, lemon curd, clam chowder, hot chocolate? And since the final result is such an airy, fragile product which can be shattered and ground with relative ease, does that now allow us to make an infinite number of powders with flavors ranging from vinegar to maple syrup?