Dominique & Cindy Duby, chocolatiers based in Canada, have put together two “scientific chocolate tasting kits” (one, two). Some of the science behind is explained in their “tasting notes” (copy the text into a wordprocessor to read it). For a review of the first kit, check out Rob and Rachel’s blogpost over at Hungry in Hogtown.
The kits illustrate the use of various hydrocolloids to produce foams, gels, dispersions, emulsions and pearls. The principle of flavor pairing is illustrated and binary taste interactions are explored. They also include experiments to explore crunchy vs. soft textures. Each kit comes with four different experiments and enough ingredients to make 8 servings. Furthermore they let you serve every experiment at two different tempereatures. This is neat because is allows you to explore the great influence temperature has on texture and aroma. Each kit sells for $125 – expensive yes, but from the presentation it seems like a good bundle.
Science tasting kit no. 1
The following is illustrated in kit no. 1:
Experiment 1: foaming of pectin and gelatin gels, spherification of a fruit juice/chocolate emulsion (there’s no info on this, but I guess the spherification is alginate based)
Experiment 2: explore how temperature influences sweet and bitter tastes, make a chocolate emulsion (with cream, strawberry juice, wine, cocoa butter and oil) and serve it at two different temperatures
Experiment 3: explore the fact that “taste” is 80% smell, illustrate how salt can suppress bitterness, use a special powder made from an aromatic liquid and maltodextrin which is then dried under vacuum with microwaves (sort of like freeze drying, only this uses microwaves in stead)
Experiment 4: Hervé This’ double dispersion chocolate “cake” made with chocolate and egg white foam which is set in a microwave oven (described in his Angewante Chemie article on molecular gastronomy), short lived crunchy texture, flavor pairing is illustrated by combining cumin and coffe with chocolate
Science tasting kit no. 2
Kit no. 2 starts of by exploring culinary “equations” which are remarkably similar to (yet somewhat less comprehensive than) the CDS formalism described by Hervé This elsewhere. The following is illustrated in the second kit:
Experiment no. 1: a “whisky” is constructed from ethanol lignin, aromatic aldehydes, sugars, acetic acid, oak flavor, vanilin, malt etc.
Experiment no. 2: ice cream is made without churning using foamed egg whites to incorporate air (is this what Italians refer to as a frozen parfait?)
Experiment no. 3: Hervé This’ chocolate chantilly
Experiment no. 4: meringues floating on a pool of custard sauce drizzled with caramel
If you’d rather reverse engineer the dishes, my list of hydrocolloid suppliers might come handy. The “tasting notes” also gives you some hints if you want to have a go on your own.
A ‘free’ flavo(u)r databank [searched with google]:
& a lot lot lot more options,
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