Category Archives: Experiments

Whipped cheesecake foam

Even before I actually owned a whipping siphon, and had only seen them on YouTube, I have considered their true purpose in life to make something whipped and fluffy and cheesecake flavored. The whipping siphon was a birthday gift from some particularly perceptive siblings (with my wife as a possible co-conspirator), and it was just a matter of time until I got around to it.

Today, that day came. And it was cheesecaky. My spell-checker thinks that cheesecaky is not a word, but then the spellchecker has never tasted this:

The original plan was to make little graham-cracker crusts, but laziness happened.

It’s a fairly simple recipe, and I didn’t even invent it (I stole it from this blog). That foam is mostly cream cheese, plus a few other things to help flavor and consistency. I did, however, do one thing wrong—I overcharged the whipping siphon, thanks to which I now know why that’s a bad idea.

The original recipe is for a 1-liter siphon, and uses two cartridges. I knew that, and halved the recipe, but wasn’t sure whether one cartridge was going to be enough. I decided to experiment: the cookie on the right is from a single charge, and the cookie on the left is from a double-charge. While it didn’t hurt the taste, the siphon hissed and spluttered, and the foam came out a bit chaotically. It also quit coming out entirely after the fifth cookie.

Upon opening the siphon, I found there was enough solidified foam left inside for a further three or four cookies, and since it still tasted amazing, I scooped it out directly onto the cookies and resumed eating. Sadly, the last few tablespoons were stuck at the bottom of the siphon where I couldn’t reach them. So if you want to know how the evening ended, you should picture me in the kitchen, my fist shaking at the ceiling, and crying sadly: “I need a longer spoon!”

Cheesecaky Foam

  • 1.5 g vanilla paste
  • 125 g cream cheese
  • 25 g yogurt
  • 50 g water
  • 25 g sugar
  • 3 g honey

Measure out the cream cheese and whip it for a bit; it’s a little tougher to whip if you combine everything first. Add everything else and combine it until it’s evenly mixed. You can use a blender, a whisk, a hand mixer, whatever.

Pour into a half-liter whipping siphon, charge with one cartridge, and spray it onto whatever it is that you want to taste amazing. We used shortbread cookies.

The slowest way to boil an egg

The first two years I was in college I lived with my grandparents. Almost every Saturday my grandma would make soft-boiled eggs for me and my grandpa. Eating them with salt and pepper crushed in a bowl was one of the pleasures of the weekend I looked forward to. I’ve tried to recreate the gelatinous whites covered in gooey yolk, but I’ve never quite mastered the art.

So you can understand how the first thing I wanted to cook when we bought our sous vide cooker was a soft-boiled egg. With sous vide cooking, a water bath is kept at a constant temperature over a long time to cook foods all over evenly and without drying them out. I put an egg on at 147 F, which according to the accompanying temperature guide would have a yolk that was “firmly set but very creamy. White firmer.” After an hour of cooking it was kind of a slushy disappointment.

IMG_1298 cropped

If you stare at them for the entire hour, they do not boil any slower.

If you’ve studied food science, you know that the white and the yolk of the egg solidify at different temperatures, which is why boiling an egg through sous vide alone is a terrible way to get firm whites and a gooey yolk. Adam was undeterred by my failure and proceeded to make me a much better soft-boiled egg:

  1. Allow egg to warm to room temperature. 
  2. Cook egg in (already) boiling water for three and a half minutes. This gets the whites nice and cooked!
  3. Cool egg for ten minutes in an ice bath.
  4. Cook sous vide at 149 F for 35 minutes.
  5. Toast shell in a toaster oven for 15 minutes to get the shell nice and brittle. I think this step is silly.
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That’s hand-pressed flatbread from our wood-fired oven. Just kidding! We got them at CostCo.

I think I might just have to learn how my grandma does it (probably boiling ~6 minutes), but the modernist method is probably more consistent.

Pages 142-143 of the Book

Modernist macaroni and cheese

no-flour mac and cheese

No-flour mac and cheese

Hi, Adam here. Let’s get this cooking blog started with some classic American comfort food—macaroni and cheese.

Of course, since this a modernist cooking blog, I have to do it in the weirdest way possible. The Book suggests you try making the cheese sauce without flour, to avoid dulling the flavor. Of course, the other purpose of flour is to keep the cheese from separating into an oily mess. To get that silky texture, the recipe uses sodium citrate instead.

As far as texture goes, this stuff is magical—I got a smooth cheese sauce, with a consistency slightly thinner than the goopy yellow substance that your school carnival scoops over nachos. We used medium cheddar cheese, making this about as close to the blue box as you can get while still using actual cheese (OK, that’s not very close).

Flavor-wise, it is less perfect. Even without adding extra salt, I found it a little salty, with flavor notes that came across as somehow artificial. It turns out that sodium citrate is not a free lunch: eaten plain, it tastes of lightly salted metal. Most of the cheeses recommended by the book are quite strong (white cheddar, Gruyère, Gorgonzola, etc.), which would conceal this pretty well.

The cheese sauce works wonderfully over broccoli and cauliflower, and I think this will be how I use most of the leftovers. The cheese sauce keeps for quite a while in the fridge.

Modernist Cheese Sauce

Boil the water, and add the sodium citrate. Add the cheese to the water a little bit at a time, whisking furiously to incorporate it. You can use an immersion blender if you have one, but we did just fine with a wire whisk.

Serve over macaroni, nachos, broccoli, or whatever you have that needs a good cheesing.

Page 310 of the Book