Transforming Fats into Powders

Tapioca maltodextrin–a starch patented as N-Zorbit M by the National Starch and Chemical Company–is most commonly used as a bulking agent in frozen foods. In the kitchen at Providence, Pastry Chef Adrian Vasquez uses it to stabilize high-fat ingredients such as white chocolate, foie gras, peanut butter, and oils. He then transforms the stabilized fats into powders that add potent flavor and textural dimension to his desserts. Vasquez brought the technique to Providence after hearing about Pastry Chef Sam Mason’s olive oil powder.

Tapioca maltodextrin isn’t an economical choice—a 50-pound box costs over $200, and due to its industrial nature, it isn’t available in smaller quantities. So it’s no surprise that this technique is rarely found, and when it is, it’s usually in moderation. The powder technique is not limited to the pastry kitchen at Providence, where Chef Michael Cimarusti garnishes savory plates with aromatic basil powder, chorizo powder, and bacon powder.

Step 1: Liquefy fat (render bacon fat, melt butter, etc.)

Step 2: Chill fat

Step 3: Start with a ratio of 60 percent fat to 40 percent tapioca maltodextrin. Purée fat with tapioca maltodextrin in a Robot Coupe. Add more tapioca maltodextrin as needed.

Step 4: Pass through a tamis for a fluffier powder.

White Chocolate Mousse with Black Olive Nougatine and White Chocolate Powder
Pastry Chef Adrian Vasquez of Providence – Los Angeles, CA
Adapted by

24 servings (4 cm-tall by 5 cm-wide molds)


    White Chocolate Powder:
  • 80 grams tapioca maltodextrin
  • 120 grams melted white chocolate

    Chocolate Mousse:
  • 100 grams cream
  • 20 grams sugar
  • 50 grams yolks
  • 225 grams white chocolate
  • 25 grams cocoa butter
  • 1 sheet gelatin
  • 475 grams soft whipped cream

    Blood Orange Sauce:
  • 500 grams blood orange purée
  • 35 grams sugar
  • 2.7 grams agar

    Mandarin Sauce:
  • 500 grams mandarin purée
  • 35 grams sugar
  • 2.7 grams agar

    Black Olive Nougatine:
  • 1 cup niçoise olives
  • 300 grams fondant
  • 130 grams glucose
  • 20 grams butter


For White Chocolate Powder:
Place starch in Robot Coupe and add melted white chocolate. Spin machine and scrape side and bottom with spatula. Add starch as needed to create desired texture. For a fluffier chocolate powder, pass through tamis.

For White Chocolate Mousse:
Make créme anglaise with cream, sugar and yolks. Pour over chocolate and cocoa butter, add gelatin, and stir with a spatula. When mixture is between 35-40°C, fold in whipped cream and fill desired molds.

For Blood Orange Sauce:
Bring blood orange purée, sugar and agar to a boil. Remove from heat and chill until aspic-like in texture. Purée in blender.

For Mandarin Sauce:
Bring mandarin purée, sugar and agar to a boil. Remove from heat and chill until aspic-like in texture. Purée in blender.

For Black Olive Nougatine:
Preheat oven to 180°F. Dry olives in oven overnight. The next day, roughly chop the olives, place on paper towels and place in 180°F oven until towels have absorbed all the oil they can take. Repeat. When olives are dry, cook fondant and glucose to 320°F, add butter and emulsify. Add ½ cup chopped, dry olives, stir and pour onto Silpat. When cool, pulse in Robot Coupe until chunky in texture.

To Assemble and Serve:
Place black olive nougatine in a mound at the center of a serving plate. Sprinkle white chocolate powder atop the olive nougatine for contrast and top with the white chocolate mousse. Top mousse with more white chocolate powder and garnish plate with blood orange and mandarin sauces.

September 2006