brie blackberries The Brie that ate Sheboygan

How could I resist something called “Blowing Up Cheese With Nitrous Oxide”? It’s a piece, in PopSci’s “Kitchen Alchemy” column (which, as an on-again/off-again geek foodied, I’ve started following), on aerating Brie with Nitrous to create delicious cheese foam (and you thought aerosol cheese was fun before!).

I’m surprised there aren’t more of these sorts of fun, geeky, makery molecular gastronomy how-tos outside of the hardcore food media. I love trying things like this in the kitchen, and I bet lots of other makers do too.

Turns out, in order to maintain the texture of the foam once created, they had to use agar:

In order to create structure in our aerated cheese while still keeping a soft, melting texture, we looked towards agar, which would form a gel at a relatively high temperature, thus ensuring that our bubbles remained trapped in the cheese. The downside to using agar by itself is that it has a hard, rubbery texture and can fall prey to syneresis–expulsion of liquid–over time.

Fortuitously, agar has synergistic properties with locust bean gum. Research shows that when agar and locust bean gum are combined at a ratio of 9:1, their gel strength and elasticity increases. This solved both of our issues: increased strength and a desirable soft smooth texture. Finally, we needed to figure out how much agar and locust bean gum we needed to make this experiment work. When using hydrocolloids, it is always best to use the minimum amount necessary so as to get the maximum flavor impact from the dish. In this case we determined that 0.3 percent by weight of the total base worked perfectly. Try it yourself.

Blowing Up Cheese With Nitrous Oxide

Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn is a freelancer writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture, including the first book about the web (Mosaic Quick Tour) and the Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Building Robots. He is currently working on a best-of collection of his writing, called Borg Like Me.

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