Thursday, December 9, 2010

Space(Bag), The Final Frontier - Sea Foam and a Vacuum Cleaner

Every once in awhile I kind of step off the deep end.  I have to blame it on Heston Blumenthal, the original Culinary Alchemist. In my defense I had no idea who he was when I started this blog back in 2008.  I was working on writing a cook book called "Culinary Alchemy" (which I really need to get back to finishing).  Somewhere along the lines, I found BakeSpace and chose "culinaryalchemist" as my member name; then when I started this blog I just ran with it.... Then I found out about Heston.  oops...  I will concede that Mr. Blumenthal is THE Culinary Alchemist.  LOL

Anyway, I was watching his "In Search of Perfection" show on the Planet Green a few months ago and he was making a Black Forest cake.  One of his little tricks was making aerated chocolate.  OK, I will admit that the idea of using a Space Bag and a vacuum cleaner along with a nitrous powered Si whip was an appealingly idea that spoke to my inner mad scientist.  Thus I was glued to the television screen like a a teen age boy watching a Victoria Secret commercial.  (OK, maybe that was a bad visual; Sorry)  It was something I REALLY wanted to try at some point in the near future....  I had a few Aero candy bars when I was in London, so I figured I could make them at home, cause I miss them.

Fast forward 3 months and now it is the Holiday season.  I have a Space Bag, and of course I have a vacuum cleaner and an Si Whip but I have yet to actually step into the kitchen and perform a little aerated chocolate magic.  However, since I need to make Sea Foam candy for my aunt this year (cause it's tradition now) I got to thinking (which is always slightly dangerous).  If the Space Bag can be used to lower the atmospheric pressure and allow the "Nitrous" to expand, then why couldn't it be used in conjunction with the CO2 that is produced during the Sea Foam process?   Since my High School Chemistry teacher wasn't available (Ms. Collins was an awesome teacher)  I decided to just throw caution to the wind and go for it.... There was only one slight problem gumming up the works.  With Chocolate, which is only at about 105 degrees, all I needed was a plastic container to place the chocolate into.  Sea Foam is 300 degrees, thus I needed something metal or glass in order to withstand the heat AND it had to have a lid.  Oh bother!

Luckily, this evening, I found a 9x9 square glass pan with a vented lid at Ross for a song...  AWESOME!  So laughing maniacally to myself (I think I scared several people while in the checkout), I purchased the baking dish and hurried home to begin my candy machinations.   Muah ha ha ha!!!

The recipe is the same as the Sea Foam recipe I posted last year, though the method is a little more bizarre.  But I subscribe to one simple philosophy in the kitchen..... NO FEAR!!!!

Sea Foam and a Vacuum

1 cup (200 g) Granulated Sugar
3/4 cup (146 g) Light Brown Sugar
1/2 cup (8 TB) Corn Syrup
1/4 cup (4 TB) Water
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 TB Baking Soda
Aluminum Foil
a little butter
1 Medium or Large Space Bag
1 Vacuum Cleaner (with a hose attachment)
1 Dish Towel (to protect the bag from the heat of the glass pan)

Combine Granulated Sugar, Brown Sugar, Corn Syrup and Water in a large sauce pan. (The larger the better)

Bring to a boil over medium low heat,

then cover for 2 minutes.

Remove the cover and insert a candy thermometer.

Continue boiling until the syrup reaches 300 degrees F (149 C)

Meanwhile, line the 9 x 9 pan with Aluminum foil.

Rub liberally with Butter and set aside.

Place a folded towel into the space bag to protect it from the heat of the pan.

Make sure your vacuum cleaner is nearby.
When the syrup is at 300, remove it from the heat and stir in the vanilla.

OK now this is the fast part, so you will have to be quick.

Sprinkle the baking soda over the syrup and quickly stir it in (with a spatula, not a whisk - I goofed) to fully incorporate it. (the candy will begin to puff up and change color in the process)

Spoon it into the prepared baking dish.

Slap the cover on it and move it quickly to the Space Bag, on top of the towel. (the longer this takes, the hotter the pan will get and you may burn yourself)

Seal the bag up and apply the vacuum cleaner, sucking out all the air. (you really need to be quick, as soon as the candy begins to cool it becomes more viscous, the more viscous the less expansion you will get)

You will notice that the candy will continue to expand as the air is removed.  (The syrup expanded and raised up, sticking to the lid.)
Seal the "vent" on the bag quickly and let the candy sit until completely cooled and hardened.

Remove from the bag and remove the candy by the aluminum foil.
Peel off the foil and smack the candy block with a meat mallet to break it up.

Voila!  Sea foam candy!

It came out very well.  Mush more tender and crispy; not quite as "crunchy" as it normally is.  I was so impressed with the results, that this is now officially my new process for making Sea Foam.

Heston Blumenthal, you ROCK!   Thanks for the inspiring idea!!!!  Eventually I will do this will chocolate.   Any excuse to get all crazy in the kitchen.  LOL



Anonymous said...

That. Looks. Amazing.

Can't you remember your old friends Bryce and Amy this Christmas?? :)

Anonymous said...

That. Looks. Amazing.

Can't you remember your old friends Bryce and Amy this Christmas?? :)

Anonymous said...

Oops... Sorry about that... Finger spasms...

Culinary Alchemist said...

Not a problem... Happens to me all the time... LOL I am sending you guys Merry Christmas thoughts even as I type this. :)

Patti T. said...

Could anybody be more inventive than you?!? I think not. I have space bags, I have a vacuum cleaner, but will I be trying this, I doubt it. Hats off to you though. I love reading all your cooking adventures.