Two years ago we had the pleasure of watching Alex Stupak demonstrate the technique of squeezing raspberry jam into liquid nitrogen like Parisian gnocchi and then dipping the frozen pieces in a liquefied sable. The technique allows the liquefied butter to solidify almost instantly around the jam. In the refrigerator the jam becomes soft and tender again and the sable retains its shape, enrobing the jam. The component he demonstrated was a PB&J, in just one bite. Alex has since taken this technique to numerous other applications, I believe even enrobing ice cream.
This year we watched Rick Billings demonstrate this technique with a fluid streusel coating wrapped around blueberry coulis. I was once again taken by the technique, though Rick did not use liquid nitrogen. Rick's take on Alex's technique demonstrated and inspired the possibilities of changing the fats and flavors of what can become a liquefied cooked batter as an coating material. I suppose we could make liquid vanilla wafers to enrobe banana pudding.
Ideas grow and evolve. Recently I have been working on a caviar and ice cream dish. The components were clear. The presentation and delivery were not. One component of the dish was bitter tomato fruit leather. Then it dawned on me. I could dip the fruit leather in the unfrozen ice cream and then into liquid nitrogen to freeze it. Several dips in ice cream base and nitrogen would hide the fruit leather in the center of the ice cream. Because the fruit leather is intensely flavored, it became a flavor surprise which was delivered as the diner bit into the ice cream. The fruit leather also allowed us to shape the ice cream differently. In our first trials I cut tortilla chip sized pieces of the fruit leather and enrobed them in the coconut-yuzu ice cream. Though eating these larger pieces in the actual dish proved difficult. We ended up cutting the fruit leather into small squares and the dipped pieces ended up looking like over-sized Chiclets. The ice cream to fruit leather ratio became more balanced and this allowed us to serve a dollop of the actual bitter tomato marmalade as part of the dish.
The idea of coating the fruit leather opens up a number of possiblites. The control we can acheive with the leather is exciting. We may actually wrap something in the fruit leather to add another dimension to the bite. Now we start asking questions. What can be a fruit leather? Does it have to be thin? How intense of a strip can we put inside an ice cream bite? What shapes and sizes are possible? In fact, we can go in another direction and see what flavors we may fold into ice cream by tearing the fruit leather. And what if we were not using ice cream? We are only scratching the surface.