Thursday, 22 February 2007
Vaquelin - how to meet the whole family's sweet needs using just one eggwhite
It's a known fact that it's possible to increase the volume of an eggwhite by beating it for...well, lots of times. According to Hervé This (a French scientist, the founder of molecular gastronomy) it can be increased even more by just adding liquid and some sugar to stabilise the foam and increase the viscosity of water.
I was inspired by a post from blog.khymos.org to make the following experiment.
1.5 dl liquid (I used dewberry juice)
2-3 tsp sugar
I considered a suggestion from a comment and first dissolved the sugar in the juice. Then I beated the eggwhites for some minutes with an electric mixer (instead of 5-10 minutes as I didn't use my manual whisk, the wires of which are rather thick and would've made the job too time-consuming). It's important to use a really clean and dry bowl. While still whisking, I started to add juice. Bit by bit. And the volume really did increase, resulting in a decent bowlful of foam.
But that's not it yet. To prepare a fine dessert of this foam, you should heat it up a bit in a microwave to make the proteins set. Some tablespoonfuls at a time is a good way to do it. Hervé This has named this dish Vaquelin after the French chemist Louis Nicholas Vaquelin. As the proteins set really quickly, it's important to heat the foam only during a very short time or it will collapse. That's why I tried it using the 500W setting for different times: 5, 7, 10 and 15 seconds.
It's visible that the structure of the foam doesn't change much after 5 seconds. Although, after 10 seconds it already begins to collapse from the bottom when a spoon is stabbed in. 15 seconds makes the foam collapse entirely.
It seemed to me that the volume kept increasing in the microwave for about 8 seconds, after that it lessened a bit. That's why I used 500w and 8 seconds of cooking time for the final results.
After adding some berries and cinnamon the dessert was ready. With a funny and light texture that melts in the mouth and surprisingly warm for the eaters when served immediately. Still, it's possible to serve it a bit later too, the vaquelin will gladly wait. The dessert is definitely innovative. A good perspective for university students with money problems? Or weight-watchers? It's also suggested to use orange or cranberry juice as the liquid or even red wine. Worth to try anyway!