Isomalt is a modified sucrose developed in the
80's as a sugar substitute for diabetics. Although usually packaged
as tubs of large, white crystals, isomalt is less prone to crystallization
and less likely to absorb moisture than sugar. Other than being
about half as sweet, it retains most of the same properties as
table sugar. The advantages of cooking with a product that is
less sweet than sugar, but still able to caramelize and work as
a sugar, have propelled isomalt from industrial production into
progressive pastry and savory kitchens. Chef Albert Adria of el
Bulli uses isomalt to make a sugar casing in the shape of
a bird's head that is filled with black sesame praline. The crisp,
elongated sphere has a long, hummingbird-like beak and is only
one element of Adria's dish, The Hummingbird.
Step 1: Caramelize the isomalt and glucose together
in a saucepan
Step 2: Remove from heat and submerge a heatproof
cutter, like exoglass, in the sugar
Step 3: Lift the ring in and out of the sugar,
repeatedly, until a membrane forms
Step 4: Working quickly, place the ring on Silpat,
drop a small mound of praline in the center, and raise the ring
to form a hemisphere
Step 5: Pinch the top to disconnect from the
ring and to form the beak
For Elderberry Flower Ice Cream:
Mix water, glucose, dextrose and trimoline in a saucepan
and heat to 45°C (113°F). In a bowl, mix sugar with stabilizer
and powdered milk. Add the sugar mixture to the saucepan and heat
it without stopping until it reaches 90°C (194°F). Remove
saucepan from heat and stir in the elderberry flower concentrate.
Refrigerate mixture for 8 hours, then put through an ice cream
maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
For Sponge Cake:
Preheat the oven to 210°C (410°F). Using a mixer, whip
the egg yolks with 200 grams of sugar. Separately whip the whites
with the remaining 50 grams of sugar to make a meringue. Add 1/3
of the meringue to the yolks, whipping it until smooth. Sprinkle
the flour and cornstarch over the mixture, and finish adding the
rest of the meringue, stirring to combine. Pour batter into a
pan and bake for 7 minutes, then cut into 4 tear-shaped pieces.
These will form the bodies of the hummingbirds.
For Rose Syrup:
In a saucepan, heat water and sugar until boiling. Remove from
heat. Add rosewater when mixture has cooled.
For Cocoa Syrup:
Place sugar in a saucepan and add just enough, water to cover.
Mix and cook the syrup until it reaches 117°C (243°F).
Remove the pan from the heat and add the cocoa nibs, stirring
until the sugar crystallizes and lightens. Return the pan to the
heat to caramelize the cocoa nibs. Store the syrup in a dry place.
For Elderberry Flower Gelatin:
Put water in a saucepan and heat to 45°C (113°F). Add
gelatin, removing pan from heat once the gelatin has dissolved.
Slowly add the elderberry flower concentrate and leave the mixture
to coagulate in the refrigerator.
For Black Sesame Praline:
Toast the sesame seeds until they give off an aroma. In a blender,
grind toasted sesame seeds with the sunflower oil until you get
a praline. Put into a squeeze bottle. This mixture is used to
fill the head of the hummingbird.
For Hummingbird Head:
Put the isomalt and glucose into a saucepan and heat until they
caramelize. Remove the
caramel from the heat and submerge hoop into it. Lift the hoop
several times until you can see that a membrane has formed inside
it. Working quickly, place the hoop on a Silpat and fill with
a small mound of sesame praline. Raise the hoop to encase the
praline in the caramel, forming a hemisphere. Pinch the top of
the caramel to form the beak. It will solidify in a few seconds.
For Hummingbird Wings:
Mix the lychee juice with the water. At the same time, submerge
two soup spoons into the liquid nitrogen until they are frozen.
Fill the spoon with the lychee juice and leave it for a few seconds.
Remove the juice from the spoon (part of the juice will remain
stuck to the spoon). Put the spoon back into the liquid nitrogen
for a few seconds; when you take it out you will have a small,
arched mold formed in the shape of the spoon, made of lychee.
Keep it frozen until the moment you plate the dish.
To Assemble and Serve:
In the center of the plate, place three tiny spoonfuls of the
elderberry flower gelatin. In the middle of this put 3 small sprigs
of elderberry. Sprinkle a little of the dehydrated yuzu powder
and the caramelized violets among the elderberry sprigs. Soak
the sponge cake in the rosewater syrup and then place it on the
plate. On top of it place a scoop of the ice cream. Along the
sides, place the wings made of frozen lychee. Just before serving,
put the cocoa syrup at the opposite end of the plate from the
gelatin. In the middle of all this place the hummingbird, and
crown it with the caramel head.