You are on page 1of 12

10 Easy Molecular Gastronomy Recipes

By Anita George
December 5, 2014 | 11:11am
Share Tweet Share
Its time to play with your food again. Except this time around, as an adult, you actually have
access to the chemicals and tools youll need to create some really awesome culinary special
effects. And its all because of molecular gastronomy.
Molecular gastronomy is a branch of food science that utilizes the principles of chemistry,
physics and biology to develop delicious food that can be presented in new and interesting ways
solid cocktails, fruit jelly caviar, or vegetable foams and bubbles. Its basically the science of
food you thought could only exist in Willy Wonkas chocolate factory.
But with a grasp on some of the basic concepts of molecular gastronomy, youre actually much
closer to those fantasy recipes than you think.
This summer, go ahead and experiment. Be a mad scientist in the kitchen and class up a romantic
dinner with see-through ravioli, enjoy a piece of exploding chocolate this Fourth of July or even
munch on a crunchy cocktail or two with our list of ten easy molecular gastronomy recipes.

Alcohol
1. White Russian Krispies
Yes, The Dude would approve. You can now have your cult classic cocktail and eat it too. Whats
great about mixologist Eben Freemans recipe is that its not just some cereal drowned in two
kinds of liquor and milk. Instead, the flavor of Kahlua is infused into the Rice Krispies cereal via
dehydration. The moisture disappears and youre left with a coffee-flavored cereal. So now you
can snap, crackle, pop and buzz your way to happy this morning in more ways than one.

Photo by Melissa Hom


The Science Behind It: Dehydration. Dehydration is the process of drawing moisture (water)
out of food in an effort to preserve or dry up its surface, according to Molecular Gastronomy:
Exploring the Science of Flavor by Herve This. Traditionally, this technique been used primarily
for preserving a surplus of foods like herbs or for more convenient snacking (like dried fruit). In
molecular gastronomy, however, dehydration is also used to create crunchy textures, flavor
powders or preserve the crispiness (and flavors) of foods like Kahlua-infused Rice Krispies.
Dehydration can be performed using a dehydrator or a common household oven, provided that
the oven can be set to temperatures below 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
Ingredients:
1/2 cup of half and half
1/2 cup of Kahlua liquor
1/8 cup of Rice Krispies cereal
1/2 tsp. of sugar
1/4 cup of vodka
How to Make It: Youll want to make the Kahlua-infused Krispies ahead of time for this
crunchy cocktail. Toss the cereal with 1/4 cup of the Kahlua liquor in order to coat, then in a
dehydrator (or an oven on its lowest setting), dehydrate the Kahlua-coated cereal for one hour.
Repeat the aforementioned step for another coat of Kahlua. Depending on your dehydrator or
oven you may need to leave the cereal in it overnight to complete the drying/crisping process.
Once you have the cereal infused with the Kahlua, you can move on to the milk part. Combine
ice, vodka and sugar in a cocktail shaker and shake until the sugar has dissolved. Strain the
vodka/sugar and pour and stir it into the half and half. When ready to serve, pour Kahlua
Krispies into a bowl and add half and half/vodka/sugar mixture. Stir to combine.

2. Smoked Beer
Its summer and sometimes even the best barbecue isnt enough to sate some peoples cravings

for smoke. Well, maybe instead of just firing up the grill again on an already sweltering day why
not get your fix in a more refreshing way? Why not add smoke to your favorite beers? You could
brew your own beer with smoked malts. But in the interest of saving time, why not go the
molecular gastronomy route and use a handheld food smoking device known as a smoking gun.
Itll add the flavor of smoke to your store-bought beer without the heat or having to brew your
own beer.
The Science Behind It: A molecular gastronomy gadget called The Smoking Gun. The
Smoking Gun coats your food with a surface-level infusion of smoky flavor. The way it works is
you load the gun up with your favorite flavored wood chip or aromatic herb and you light it.
Once the the chips burn, the gun creates and releases a cooled smoke that can infuse foods
without heating or overcooking them. This is ideal for food and beverages you normally want to
keep cold like beer or butter.
Ingredients/Materials:
A bottle of your favorite beer
Smoking Gun device
Mesquite wood chips
How to Make It: Pour your beer into a glass. Load the wood chips into the smoking chamber of
Smoking gun. Insert the guns tube/hose into the glass. Cover the glass with plastic wrap. Turn
on the guns fan and light the chips with a lighter. As the smoke fills the glass, shake the glass
gently. Turn off the gun, remove the wrap and enjoy your smoked beer.

Savory Dishes
3. Arugula Spaghetti
Now youre really transforming foods like a mad scientist. Arugula aint just for salads anymore.
Theyre noodles. Tell your kids theyre gummy veggies. Or not, and keep them for yourself and
pretend youre at a super-classy, highly-exclusive modernist cuisine restaurant in New York with
your significant other. Or just slurp them in your sweatpants. We dont care. And we wont tell.

The Science Behind It: Agar Agar and Gelification. Agar-agar is a substance derived from red
algae that when used in recipes acts as a stabilizing and thickening agent due to its ability to
create gel shapes (like caviar and spaghetti) out of the liquefied versions of the foods its mixed
in, according to Molecule-R. Like gelatin, gelling only occurs with agar-agar when a solution
containing it has cooled after being boiled. Unlike the animal-based gelatin (Jello), however, an
agar-agar based gel is pretty heat resistant once the gel forms. Agar gels will stay solid even after
reaching 185 degrees Fahrenheit, while solid pieces of Jello melt at 99 degrees. Gelification is
the molecular change of a liquid food to a solid, jelly-like food.
Ingredients:
2 cups of Arugula
3/4 cups of water
1/2 tsp. of Agar Agar powder
Plastic syringe and tube
How to Make It: Watch the following demonstration by MOLECULE-R Flavors to see how to
prepare Arugula Spaghetti.
.

4. Oysters Topped With Passion Fruit Caviar


There are two sides to this molecular gastronomy recipe: the science of flavor pairings and fruit
caviar. According to Foodpairing.com, though it seems odd, oysters and passion fruit do go
together in terms of flavor. And you can always up the weird ante by turning your passion fruit
into little jelly pearls known as fruit caviar. Want to make oysters even fancier and more
romantic? Fruit caviar is the way to do it. And if youre feeling adventurous, check out our list of
other weird, but delicious food pairings.
The Science Behind It: Agar Agar. As explained in the entry on Arugula Spaghetti, agar-agar
can be used to create a variety of gel shapes, even the passion fruit caviar pearls of this recipe.
Though a different shape is achieved this time using the agar-agar, its still considered the same
process of gelification as the entire pearl is a gummy-like gel (due to the unique properties of the
agar) rather a tough membrane encapsulating a pop of liquid, as youll see in the next recipe.
Ingredients for Lexies Kitchens Passion Fruit Caviar:
1/2 cup of vegetable oil
1/3 cup of passion fruit juice puree
1/4 tsp. of agar agar powder
How to Make It: Chill the vegetable oil in a tall glass. Mix passion fruit juice and agar agar in
saucepan and bring to boil. Simmer for 2 minutes or until agar dissolves. Let agar/juice mixture
cool for 5 minutes. Fill a straw with the cooled mixture and let droplets of it fall from the straw,
one at a time, into the cold oil. The caviar pearls will form on contact with the oil. Strain the
caviar out of the glass and rinse with water. Until youre ready to use them, store them in water.

When youre ready to top your oysters with the caviar, simply take them out of the water and
place them on a paper towel. Pat them dry and top your oysters.

5. Vegan Scallops With Carrot Ginger Caviar


Heres another caviar recipe from the produce section. This time were dealing with vegetables,
roots and a different method for producing those little jelly spheres. With this new method, it
sounds like weve moved out of the kitchen and into a laboratory. But dont worryeverything
is still edible. Even the scallops which arent really scallops. Theyre just mushrooms made to
look like seared scallops.

Photo by Joe Crocetta


The Science Behind It: Sodium Alginate and Calcium Chloride (Spherification). When youre
making jelly caviar, thats gelification. When youre making fruit or veggie caviar that is
essentially a sturdy outer membrane that contains completely liquid juice, thats a process called
spherification. And in this recipe for carrot ginger caviar, spherification is achieved by using
sodium alginate and calcium chloride.
Sodium alginate, is salt that has been extracted from the walls of brown algae cells. It is a
structural component of the algae that allows it to be more flexible. Unlike agar-agar, the gelling

that occurs with sodium alginate happens only in cold conditions. As Molecule-R points out, in
tandem with calcium chloride, sodium alginate is able to acheive a unique form of gelling that
involves forming a a thin membrane around a tiny sphere of liquid, so as to create a type of
caviar that bursts with liquid in your mouth as it is consumed.
Calcium chloride is a byproduct of the production of sodium carbonate (washing soda).
Ingredients for Erin Wysos Carrot Ginger Caviar
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
One inch-long piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
1/2 -1 cup cold water
1/2 tsp. sodium alginate
2 cups cold water
1/2 tsp. calcium chloride
How to Make It: Puree carrots and ginger in a blender. Add enough water to puree, so that the
mixture equal 1 cup. Blend a second time and strain out pulp. Place mixture into refrigerator for
one hour. Then slowly whisk 1/2 tsp. of sodium alginate into mixture. Pour into squeeze bottle.
Pour 2 cups of water into shallow bowl and add calcium chloride to it. Using the squeeze bottle,
let droplets of mixture fall from the bottle, one at a time, into the water. The caviar spheres will
form on contact with the water. After youre done making the caviar, strain the caviar and dry
them on paper towels.
To see how to make the scallops go here. Top vegan scallops with the caviar and enjoy.

6. Disappearing Transparent Raviolis


Ever wonder what exactly is in your raviolis before you even take a bite? Wouldnt you like to
see the filling before stuffing them in your face? If you would, then youre a foodie and this
recipe is perfect for you. With these raviolis, you can see whats inside and then once you pop
them in your mouth, they pop, release their intense flavors and disappear. Its like a magic trick
in your mouth and you have Chef Ferran Adria of el Bulli to thank for it.

Photo via MolecularRecipes,com


The Science Behind It: Soy lecithin found in the edible film disc ravioli wrappers. Youve
probably seen this name on a million ingredient labels. Its an emulsifier, a substance that takes a
liquid and turns it into a foam, which in turn enables the mixture of other substances that
otherwise would not mix, like oil and water. Soy lecithin is derived from soybean oil which
contains phospholipids. Phospholipids are chemical compounds that can dissolve in both fat and
water, a characteristic thats particularly helpful when youre trying to mix oil and water found in
sauces like mayonnaise and hollandaise.
Also, lecithin is a substance that is found in the membranes (thin, flexible outer layer) of every
cell of every living thing, which is probably why it was ideal to use it in the manufacturing of the
transparent ravioli wrappers (oblates) featured in the recipe below.
Ingredients:
Oblates (edible film discs to wrap the raviolis)
Your choice of filling (so long as it has low-water content. Examples: foie gras, nutella,
prosciutto, dried fruit, or vegetable coated in oil)
Sealer device
How to Make It: Fold the oblates in half and set the timer on the sealer between 1 and 1.5. Use
the sealer to seal one side of the ravioli, creating an open-ended pouch. Fill the pouch with
desired filling using a squeeze bottle. Seal the open-ended side of the pouch to close it using the
sealer.

Desserts
7. Chocolate-covered Strawberries Dipped in Pop Rocks
The Fourth of July is coming up soon. Youve got less than a month left to figure out food, fun
and fireworks. What if we told you we had a super-easy recipe that could cover all three? Think
about it, with these chocolate and pop rock-covered strawberries, you could be watching
fireworks and enjoying fun sugar explosions in. your. mouth. All you need are strawberries and
the ability to dip them twice: once in chocolate and once in pop rocks. And there you have it: an
awesome Fourth of July.

The Science Behind It: Popping Sugar and effervescence. Effervescence is a chemical reaction
that results in the release of gas and the formation of foam, fizz and bubbles.
Besides drinking soda, you can get an effervescent effect on your own in your desserts using
popping sugar (Pop Rocks). Popping sugar is essentially sugar that contains carbon dioxide.
Once this type of sugar melts, usually as a result of contact with moisture, the carbon dioxide gas
is released, resulting in a popping sensation that is felt in your mouth as you eat it. Fortunately,
mixing it with melted chocolate alone (like in the recipe below) will not melt it, as the oils and
fats normally found in chocolate dont trigger the melting process.
Ingredients:
Strawberries
Chocolate (Milk, Dark or White)
Popping sugar (like Pop Rocks)
How to Make It: Melt chocolate, dip strawberries into the chocolate and then dip them into the
popping sugar. Let the chocolate and popping sugar-covered strawberries cool and then eat them.

8. Powdered Nutella
Yes, Nutella is already perfect on its own, straight out of the jar. But now weve gone and found
you another way to gorge on its hazelnut-y goodness thanks to maltodextrin powder. Bonus?
Once it hits your tongue, it doesnt stay powdered: it reverts back to that gooey-smooth spread
texture we all know and love.

Photo via DavidLebovitz.com


The Science Behind It: Maltodextrin. Maltodextrin is a subtly sweet simple sugar known as a
polysaccharide. It is derived from the break down of starch, corn, wheat, tapioca or potatoes.
Generally if youre cooking with it, youre using the tapioca kind. As Modernist Cooking Made
Easy points out, due to its unique ability to absorb oils and fats, maltodextrin is best used as
thickening agent in foods or a method of powdering high-fat foods. This food additive is also
used to preserve and intensify flavors in foods and as a low-calorie sweetener substitute.
Ingredients:
1/3 of a cup of Nutella
1/2 cup of maltodextrin powder
How to Make It: Hand-whisk Nutella and maltodextrin together. Then place mixture into food
processor or blender and blend for several seconds. Shake the blender and blend for another
several seconds. Repeat this process as necessary to get a fluffy Nutella powder. To serve, top
your favorite desserts, ice cream and fruits with the powder and enjoy.

9. Rainbow Foam
Sometimes you feel fancy and you just want a mousse. A foam. Something light and airy with
tons of flavor but not so heavy that you feel like a sleepy slob after consuming it. But a
traditional mousse takes practice to perfect and sometimes just knowing that you have to fuss
with raw eggs, makes it unappetizing. No worries: weve got a foam for that. Its just a whipped
Jello gelatin dessert, with six different flavors layered on top of each other. Its light, refreshing
and fruity. All the bubbles you want and none of the fuss. Or the eggs.

Photo by The Vintage Kitchen


The Science Behind It: Gelatin. Gelatin is used to thicken and turn liquid foods into a solid
gummy gel. Unlike the plant-based agar-agar, Gelatin is derived from collagen found in the skin
and bones of animals, most notably from pigs, as MCME points out.
And according to The Learning Channel, collagen, also found in humans, is a protein that
contributes to the strength and elasticity of the bodys connective tissues. As collagen doesnt
dissolve in water, it must be treated with an acid to create the water-soluble gelatin. Gelatin in its
powdered form, on a molecular level, are proteins made up of amino acid chains known as
polypeptide chains. Amino acids are the basic building blocks of all proteins. When amino acids
like the ones found in gelatin (glycine, proline and hydroxyproline) come together, they form
chains called polypeptide chains, which are normally bound together by weak molecular bonds.
But when these bonds are subjected to boiling water as they when you make Jello or the
Rainbow Foam below, those bonds break and polypeptide chains separate from each other. Once
the gelatin cools again with the addition of cold water the chains come back together as those
molecular bonds between them re-form. In the process the water is soaked up and trapped in
pockets between the polypeptide chains, resulting in Jellos characteristic jelly jiggle.
A gelatin-based foam, like the Rainbow Foam below, is created when partially set gelatin is
agitated, usually with a whisk, to incorporate air and bubbles into the gelatin mixture which is
then trapped once the gelatin cools, much like how water is trapped in the standard formation of
Jello. The trapped air results in a light and airy texture.
Ingredients:

6 boxes of Jello, each a different color


2 tall glasses
For each package of Jello:
1 cup boiling water
1 and 3/4 cups cold water
How to Make It: Mix each flavor of Jello separately and according to instructions on the box.
But use a 1/4 cup less water than is called for on the package. (Follow our ingredient list as noted
above when it comes to the water.) Refrigerate each jello mixture for several hours or until just
before it has completely set. Dont let it completely set. Then dump each jello into a separate
bowl and with an electric whisk, whisk each jello until frothy. Spoon the first jello color into
each glass and refrigerate for 30 minutes or until it sets. Then repeat this process with the other
five colors, layering them on top of each other. Then allow entire Rainbow Foam to sit in fridge
overnight to set. Top with whipped cream if youd like.

10. Hot Maple Ice Cream


Not only is it an ice cream that doesnt melt in warm temperatures. It actually uses heat to come
together to form a scoop of ice cream. Its a fun reverse temperature change. And all because of a
little substance called methylcellulose.

Photo by Aki Kamozawa


The Science Behind It: Methyl cellulose. Through an extraction process involving heat and
methyl chloride, methyl cellulose comes from vegetable cellulose. Like gelatin and agar-agar,
methyl cellulose facilitates gelificaton in foods. Unlike them, however, it only create gels when
heated. When using methyl cellulose, gels are formed as a liquid heats up. And once it begins to
cool, it melts. Which is the whole point of something like the methyl cellulose-based hot ice
cream.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup of Plain yogurt
1/2 cup of cream cheese
1/5 cup of maple syrup
2/5 cup of water
1.5 tablespoons of sugar
~1.5 teaspoons of Methyl cellulose powder