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Spherified chocolate

Modernist Chocolate

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14 replies to this topic

#1 paulraphael

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Posted 08 February 2013 - 02:41 PM

So, half a decade or so after everyone got sick of spherification I decided to start doing it. I needed to bring something to an erotic dessert party, and thought chocolate truffles that explode in the mouth would be the ticket.

It worked pretty well. People loved them, and made incredible faces, wondering about what was going on in there. One friend said they were like "yolks of the ganache vulture" ... a name that has stuck.

Unfortunately, making them was a gross process. My assumption that a mellon baller would work for scooping the cold ganache into the alginate was thwarted by their crumbly texture. I ended up forming the balls by hand, which left me looking like I was covered in poop.

Here's the recipe (it's for reverse spherification):


175g heavy cream
30g liqueur
15g sugar
3.2g calcium chloride
100g dark chocolate, chopped

The chocolate is chilled in the freezer before making balls, and then
soaked in hot water to melt the centers before serving.

Two thoughts I had are substituting invert syrup for the sugar, and adding gelatin (enough to give them better adhesion while cold, but not so much as to thicken them noticeably while melted).

Any better ideas?

#2 Baselerd

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Posted 08 February 2013 - 03:45 PM

Erotic dessert party?

Never tried thickening the spheres with gelatin, but xanthan gum works like a charm.

#3 Tri2Cook

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Posted 08 February 2013 - 04:37 PM

You could freeze the base in sphere (or any other shape, i.e. the mini savarins Johnny Iuzzini used when he made mini donuts using this method) molds.

As an aside, you didn't experience any unpleasant taste from using calcium chloride in your base?
It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

#4 paulraphael

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 03:49 PM

I thought about freezing in molds but was hoping for something easier.
I don't want to use xanthan because i want to mimimally influence the texture when it's melted. I just want it to adhere to iteself better so it's not just a mess when making the balls. If I could use a mellon baller that would be great.
No unpleasant taste in the chocolate from the calcium chloride, but I made some spherized straweberry this morning that tasted like road salt. It's an acquired taste.

#5 Tri2Cook

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 08:32 PM

I can't imagine anything easier than freezing the base in molds. It's faster than scooping frozen or liquid base and easier to work with. Just pop what you need out of the molds, drop them in the bath and go do something else for a few minutes.

I don't know if I have some sort of mutant sensitivity to calcium chloride but when I tried using it in reverse spheres several years ago following recipes from big-name chefs, I had to throw the results in the trash every time. I remember thinking "How are they getting away with this in their restaurants?". Then I began to wonder if it was just me since people were obviously eating these dishes at the restaurants. The unpleasantness I experienced would not have been overlooked in favor of cool factor so I never really found an answer to why it was so offensive to me. I've since used calcium lactate and lactate/gluconate exclusively for those projects. I've never used calcium chloride in a base like you're doing so maybe what you use it in is a factor.
It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

#6 paulraphael

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 10:55 AM

Well, I like the idea of avoiding the calcium chloride flavor. In the chocolate it just tasted like salt, but it ruined the fruit.

Do the lactate and gluconate not have flavor? Are there problems with making those substitutions?

I'd be grateful for recommendations on sphere molds. never used them. Sounds like they're easier Than i had assumed.

Edited by paulraphael, 10 February 2013 - 11:26 AM.


#7 Robert Jueneman

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 01:04 PM

You're making it too hard. Try this:
  • Make simple syrup by adding 3 cups of sugar to 3 cups of water, stirring, and boil until the sugar is completely dissolved. Cool the syrup, which can be made up to a week ahead of time and chilled, covered.
  • Wash and dry 4 ripe mangoes. Using a sharp knife, cut the mangoes lengthwise alongside the pit. Scoop out the flesh, and cut the remaining flesh from the pit. Put in a blender along with one cup of the simple syrup and 3 tbls of lime juice. Puree until smooth. Pour into an ice tray with spherical compartments (Gourmac.com), put the lid on, and wrap with rubber bands to tightly close it. Freeze overnight.
  • Mix 75% cocoa butter with a 25% white chocolate (Valhrona), and a little coconut milk powder if desired. Heat in the microwave, stirring occasionally, until just melted and a uniform consistency. If you don't like the color, add a little chocolate powder.
  • Put a plate in the freezer and remove the ice cube from the trays. Wearing latex gloves, roll them in your hands to smooth them out and return to the freezer (on the plate). When the cocoa butter/chocolate mixture is ready, start dipping the sorbet balls. Just drop them in, and take them out one at a time. The cocoa butter will set up immediately.
  • After dipping, let them thaw in the refrigerator, so that the sorbet melts but the cocoa butter/chocolate doesn’t.
  • Serve on a spoon, and instruct the guest to pop the entire ball into their mouth all at once. They will almost explode.
To complete the erotic dessert theme, you could try peeling and chilling (but don't freeze) a banana, into which you inserted a bamboo skewer. Dip the banana (all but the last inch) into the cocoa butter and white chocolate. Poke the bottom end of the skewer into something that would hold it upright -- perhaps a sliced raw potato? Put it into the fridge to chill the chocolate. Once chilled, and before serving, remove the skewer.

Soak coconut shavings in lukewarm coffee to stain them a dark brown.

Serve the banana, mango/chocolate balls, and the coconut shavings -- well, use your imagination.

I've served the mango/chocolate balls as a nice intermezzo, but haven't tried the banana. Let me know how it works out.

Happy Valentines Day!

#8 paulraphael

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 08:26 PM

That sounds great, Robert, but it's a different dessert. It also sounds harder, not easier. Hand-rolling to make smooth balls was one part of my process I'm trying to eliminate.

#9 Mjx

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 11:53 PM

Couldn't you make/keep the base more liquid, and just drop it into the solution with, say, a turkey baster, or even a small ladle/portion scoop? Also, since you mention submerged the spheres to warm them, it sounds like rinsing them wouldn't be an issue, and direct spherification might be worth looking into, since any residual calcium chloride would be rinsed away.

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#10 paulraphael

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 12:21 AM

Couldn't you make/keep the base more liquid, and just drop it into the solution with, say, a turkey baster, or even a small ladle/portion scoop?


This may be the simplest solution. I should probably try it before the others. The recipe could stay the same; it will be liquid enough when it's still warm.


Also, since you mention submerged the spheres to warm them, it sounds like rinsing them wouldn't be an issue, and direct spherification might be worth looking into, since any residual calcium chloride would be rinsed away.


Is this true? Does all the chloride get rinsed off? I thought spheres made this way would continue to thicken over time. Especially with ganache, since the cream must have some calcium in it.

If this isn't an issue I'll try standard spherification. If not I'm interested in other sources of calcium, like the lactate Tri 2 Cook mentioned.

Edited by paulraphael, 11 February 2013 - 12:57 AM.


#11 Tri2Cook

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 04:40 AM

The spheres continuing to gel over time is an issue with the standard method but it may not be an issue in this case depending on the result you want. Johnny Iuzzini's Chocolate Donuts are just a sphered (or, in this case, donuted) ganache stabilized with methylcellulose (to avoid seperation when heated). He uses an alginate solution in the ganache and a calcium gluconate bath. They're frozen in the mini savarin molds, dropped in the bath, breaded with panko and chilled in the fridge until ready to fry. After frying, they're crispy on the outside and warm and creamy on the inside. They are not approaching a liquid-state that will burst from the gel skin when bitten though. I haven't tried it but I'm pretty sure the reverse method and dropping the methylcellulose would allow for that. The ganache softens in the fryer but the gelling from the methylcellulose and the alginate don't allow for a return to liquid.

Subbing lactate or lactate/gluconate does require some minor adjusting. The lactate doesn't have a taste I notice in all but the lightest of flavors but requires using more for a given recipe than the chloride. The gluconate doesn't have a taste in anything I've tried it in but requires even more than the lactate. The lactate/gluconate is a good balance if you're doing a lot of really lightly flavored projects, otherwise you'll probably be fine with the lactate.

Cheap and effective sphere molds... http://www.gourmac.c...ceballtray.html
It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

#12 Mjx

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 05:18 AM

. . . .

Also, since you mention submerged the spheres to warm them, it sounds like rinsing them wouldn't be an issue, and direct spherification might be worth looking into, since any residual calcium chloride would be rinsed away.


Is this true? Does all the chloride get rinsed off? I thought spheres made this way would continue to thicken over time. Especially with ganache, since the cream must have some calcium in it.

If this isn't an issue I'll try standard spherification. If not I'm interested in other sources of calcium, like the lactate Tri 2 Cook mentioned.


MC on direct spherification (4-186):
'Rinsing [with clear water] slows the gelling process and washes away any lingering flavors from the setting solution. Rinse the spheres at least twice. Remove with a perforated spoon. Optionally, heat to 85 °C / 185 °F for 10 min to stop further solidification. Store the spheres in water or oil until needed.'

I don't speak from experience, since I've only attempted reverse spherification, but my next effort in this direction is definitely going to involve direct spherification, since I'm hoping the results will be a bit sturdier.

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#13 JustinThyme

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 05:41 AM

I was expecting that calcium in the milk and cream would be enough for the reverse spherification (100 gr chocolate, 100 gr 35% fat cream and 100 gr milk), but it did not form and gel at all in the 7% alginate solution. Is it possible that chocolate reacts with the calcium in the milk/cream so there is none or little left for the spherification?
Any recommendations for the amount of lactate or lactate/gluconate?

#14 paulraphael

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 11:16 AM

I estimate that there's just over 110mg calcium in this recipe from the cream, which wouldn't be enough. I did some calculations and came up with the following:


175g heavy cream
30g liqueur
15g sugar
9g calcium gluconate-lactate
1g salt
100g dark chocolate, chopped

This is assuming the mixture sold as gluconate-lactate is 50:50. This brings the total calcium to just below where it was with the chloride recipe (I didn't even take the cream into account when I worked it out before).

I'll see how making spheres from liquid ganache goes. If I flub that, then I'll try the freezer molds. Thanks for all the great advice.

Edited by paulraphael, 11 February 2013 - 11:17 AM.


#15 ahallberg

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Posted 06 June 2013 - 08:00 PM

Has anyone tried this recipe for chocolate caviar from ChefSteps?
http://www.chefsteps...-almond-custard





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