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Lia Tumkus

New techniques for dessert decoration

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The could have been made via spherification, but (depending on how big these things actually are), they might just be a water-based liquid that beaded up on the surface.

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Gorgeous, thanks for the link. Loads of great photos on the main page too.

The consistency between the 3 slices is impeccable, and suggests that they're able to make the spheres in various sizes as needed, so I don't think it's just water that's beading or the slices would vary more.

I haven't seen tapioca pearls that clear and perfect so I would agree that it's some form of spherification.

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I was thinking some kinda gel that gets solid at higher temperatures (or room temperature) and when put in a cold surface solidifies immediately...

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You can mold sugar in silicon molds, I have one designed to make beads. They could also be hand-rolled, it's pretty easy once you get the hang of it. So, essentially, I think they are hard candy.

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A technique from the Modernist Cuisine that I've had luck with:

-Choose an oil (neutral or flavored) and chill over ice or leave in the freezer until cold.

-Make a gel base and fill a syringe (fitted with a needle-tip / hypodermic tip) with the warm base

-Slightly submerge the tip in the cold oil and expel droplets

As the droplets sink they will form into spheres due to the natural repulsion of the oil and (presumably) water-based gel solution. They will be solid by the time they fall to the bottom of the oil provided it is cold enough. I've used this technique to make pretty nice spheres. Once you have enough, strain the beads from the oil. You have to work quickly - I've ended up with half of my gel set inside the syringe before.

With that said, I've always used Gellan or Agar for this process, which does not produce the brilliant clear beads as in the picture above.

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Good idea Baselerd! I'm gonna give it a go using this oil technique!

It's unfortunate that this brilliant beads are still a mystery...

Thanks everybody!


Edited by Lia Tumkus (log)

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Hey Lisa,

What temperature should I cook the sugar to still be able to rolle it?

I wanna give that idea a go also :)

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You'd be boiling the sugar to 315-320 degrees f. And Lisa, what kind of mold do you have? You said they create beads, how big are they? I'd be interested if they create tiny spheres. And I want to say that I'm not trying to challenge you, but I have done plenty of sugar work, and know that I could probably not roll small tiny spheres by hand so consistently. You wouldnt have to pull the sugar, but at least fold it a few times, which would easily take away that perfect clarity.

I personally feel, though, the spheres are made with a gel rather then sugar. Like ChrisZ said, the consistency of the beads suggests he is able to make the different needed sizes, and not to mention the red liquid drops on the slate next to the pastries shows what to expect when you eat the other red drop shaped items on the pastry, its probably the same liquid.


Edited by minas6907 (log)

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I have some of Nicolas Lodge's pearl border silicon molds, he has his things custom made, you have to buy through him. It was originally intended for making borders in gumpaste or royal, but they withstand heat, so they work. The mold has to be held open at an angle to fill. When flat there's just a slit on top where the silicon was cut to remove the pearl master.

To hand roll, you just need to roll out a thin snake of sugar, no folding, cut at even intervals and roll quickly on a table near your lamp. It's not ideal for production, but, we make things for showpieces (like eyes, or gems for necklaces) in this manner all the time.

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Minas6907 has a good point, it would be definitely difficult/unpleasant to eat a dessert with this kinda decoration if it was made of sugar...

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Count me in the "cold oil spherification" camp. You can use the technique with gelatin, which should give you the clarity shown. And if you're using a syringe, you can control the bead size pretty accurately by adjusting the amount of liquid you drip into the oil. Then I suppose some poor stagiaire has to sort them by size.

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