Gelatin is one of the oldest and most well-known "modernist" ingredients in western cooking. It is used in many childhood favorites such as Jell-O and marshmallows in s'mores. Gelatin can also be used to create light foams, soft panna cottas and a wide variety of gels. Without other stabilizers, gelatin has to be used for cold preparations; otherwise it will melt and lose its form.
Gelatin is taken from the collagen found in the bones and skin of animals. If you make a stock at home gelatin is the component that gives it body and causes it to gel in the refrigerator. It is clear and colorless and when dried it is solid and brittle. When hydrated, gelatin forms a flavorless and transparent gel which easily blends into other ingredients.
You can read more about gelatin from my how to use gelatin guide or any of the gelatin articles and recipes below.
This modernist dessert is a take off of an old fashioned sweet potato, brown sugar and marshmallow casserole. Here I take crispy sweet potato chips, top them with a fresh orange and brown sugar marshmallow and finish it with a drizzle of molasses for extra flavor. This treat is a hit at every party!
Tequila has a bad reputation as a party drink but you can tame it if you replace the shots with this sophisticated cocktail. The paloma is a traditional Mexican cocktail and is much more common than a margarita south of the border. It is usually made with tequila and a grapefruit soda, such as squirt, served over ice, and is both easy to make and delicious.
One interesting use of modernist gelling is to create pliable gel sheets. These gel sheets are made by adding a combination of agar agar and gelatin to a flavored liquid and letting it set. The agar and gelatin add both elasticity for strength and a nice brittleness for flavor release. The ratio of the two ingredient will determine the final characteristic of the gel sheets.
Marshmallows are a favorite food of children everywhere. These homemade ones are so much better than store bought that there is really no comparison. Whether you want to eat these on smores, in hot cocoa or just plain they will amaze you and your friends.
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