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jgarner53

Cooking egg yolks

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So in honor of Julia, I'm trying to make mousse au chocolat from Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

The first step has you beat 4 eggs yolks with 3/4 cup "instant" sugar (I'm guessing that's superfine/caster sugar?) until it forms the ribbon. Fine, no problem.

Then you continue to beat over simmering water until it's too hot to touch. She says that it will become foamy. Once that's done, then you put the bowl over a cool water bath and continue to beat until the yolks once again form the ribbon and the final consistency will resemble mayonnaise.

What happened was that I didn't get any foam when heating the yolks over the simmering water, and when I put the bowl over the cool water and continued beating, I got a thick, grainy (the sugar never dissolved) mess.

So in considering the problem (cooking egg yolks and ostensibly dissolving the sugar), I was thinking that it might make MORE sense to pour a sugar syrup into the beaten yolks, like with an Italian meringue, as the sugar is already dissolved.

Will this work, or do I have to go back to Julia's technique and try again? If so, where did I go wrong? Was my cold water too cold? What temp should I be looking for on the yolks/sugar when they can be considered done?

I was beating at about speed 5 on a hand mixer the whole time.

We will, for the moment, at least, ignore the fact that this recipe cooks the yolks but not the whites (it calls for stiffly beaten whites instead of whipped cream).


"I just hate health food"--Julia Child

Jennifer Garner

buttercream pastries

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That seems like a lot of sugar for four egg yolks. Wouldn't be the first or only misprint in a cookbook. That much sugar would almost choke the yolk's ability to dissolve it. You could add a couple of tb of water, or liquor, or coffee, to help it dissolve. Then you would basically be making a sabayon.

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Use a wire whip- not a hand mixer, and a large bottomed metal bowl. Whisk with figure eight motions and aloow the sugar to dissolve (over low heat). Stick your finger in the mixture to make sure that the sugar is dissolved. Whisk (after you are sure that the sugar is dissolved) to a ribbon. There are certain things that are best with the low tech route.

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i made this recipe for the first time some 30 years ago (wow!), when i knew very little about cooking and, actually, "mastering the art" was my first cookbook , it never failed.

the instructions are to beat the yolks, sugar and liqueur for 3-4 mins "over not-quite simmering water"- i do this at 190-200F with a hand held mixer using a whip attachement.

perhaps, "simmering water" was your problem?


Edited by foodie3 (log)

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the sirop method also works for "sabayons" as you have described (these are called bombes) , although this is unusual for a home cook to do due to the precision entailed.

cook to firm ball.

:)

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I think I read somewhere that your studing pastry JGarner53, is that correct? Well theres lots to learn in this little project if your serious.

Big lesson is: how sugar burns yolks. Why and when it happens and how to avoid it. Plus how to go around this issue, when to avoid a recipe and choose a simplier path that gives you the same results.

Overtime I've come to know when I should beat my yolks with sugar like the instructions tell me to, and when to ignore the recipe because it's more likely to fail their way. Theres usually a number of ways to make the same thing using a slightly different method then published.

Examples:

1. When you beat/whip your yolks with sugar and then pour a huge amount of liquid into that, the liquid disolves the air bubbles you've just beaten into it. You've wasted time with a pointless step. (example: creme brulee)

2. Adding sugar into a bowl of yolks starts to burn them upon imediate contact. Once that happens you might as well throw out your yolks because they won't work anymore as intended. First begin by whipping your yolks, then slowly introduce the sugar. If you have too much sugar per volume of yolks its going to burn them regardless of your methods (as McDuff mentioned). If your recipe tells you to add a huge amount of sugar to the yolks pc's will steal some liquid from further down in the recipes proceedure and add it sooner to prevent the yolks from burning.

*Heating your yolks helps the sugar as it's being introduced dissolve into a liquid. So the sugar becomes a liquid not a solid. Warm yolks will accept more volume of sugar then cold yolks, without being burnt. If you over heat your yolks they tighten up/coagulate because their cooked-and they don't except the sugar (which is what it sounds like happened to you).

The recipe you've chosen has become outdated. I'd guess the reason for heating the yolks in this recipe was to kill any possible samanila (at one point in time people thought the yolk contained the bacteria and the whites didn't, thats false) or to create a simple bombe. Today theres tons of recipes and methods for making chocolate mousse. Tons of former "rules" that are now broken, dis-spelled.

If your in the process of learning I suggest you make a min. of 8 (the more the better) different recipes for chocolate mousse. In the process you'll learn ALOT. Chocolate mousse is a good product to learn from, its many methods relate to other baked goods and pastry making. You'll learn about making bombes, adding gelatin, hot and cold ingredient reactions, etc.....Not to mention learning what you like to eat and learning how to judge a recipe.

HTH?

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HTH?

Huh??

Thanks for your suggestions Sinclair. Yes, I will be studying pastry, starting at the end of next month. In the meantime, I'm cooking/baking as much as I can, reading books like "Cookwise," and about to start McGee, so I can understand the science behind things. There can be worse things than making 8 different mousse recipes!

So I do know that sugar will burn yolks, and that you have to whisk & heat gradually to avoid getting scrambled eggs. I started beating the yolks before putting in the sugar, and in retrospect, probably put it in too fast. Upon reflection, adding ice to my cool water bath is probably where I really destroyed the yolks, though; they cooled too fast, seized up, and instant yuck.

Since I'd already melted the chocolate in the recipe and mixed in the butter, and had other things to do yesterday afternoon, I went ahead with MacDuff's suggestion and used less sugar. I beat on a slower speed (4 of 7 on my hand mixer - still not willing to get out the whisk, though I had considered it), and used just cool tap water for the cool-down with no further problems except a slight ring of hardened yolk where the waterline was on the outside bowl (but that stuck to the bowl, so I could work around it). I haven't tasted the final chilled product yet, but the prelimary tastes were good.

My other note on the recipe is that it called for 4 TBS of strong coffee. Well, strong coffee means the rocket fuel/paint thinner that my husband drinks, calling for 3 heaping TBS. of beans in a 6-cup moka pot. To the home cook in 1961, that likely meant 2 scoops of Folgers in the percolator. So my resulting mousse is much more of a mocha mousse than chocolate, but that's OK.

As long as it doesn't kill me, I look on it as an opportunity to learn. :biggrin:


"I just hate health food"--Julia Child

Jennifer Garner

buttercream pastries

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