May 12, 2020

Hello Black Void of the World Wide Web,

We attempted something that has eluded me for years: sphereifcation. 

Now, there are a million videos online showing you how to do this and a lot of them are by companies trying to sell the kits, chemicals, etc., and they make it look SO EASY. Maybe I'm incompetant. Maybe I'm all thumbs. But I've really never managed to pull this off the way I wanted. Part of that might be because I've never used the exact ingredient they use (I want to do my own thing, right?) and it also might be because THIS IS NOT EASY. For years I've had this dream of executing a chocolate caviar deconstructed mocha. And it ends in a blob of chocolate and a lot of tears. I still haven't circled that square yet, but today I managed to pull off some more...conventional spheres. 

Long story short, there are two ways of spherefication - regular and reverse. And this all just boils down to how you manage two different chemicals - sodium alginate and calcium lactate. You can buy them all on Amazon. You may also need sodium citrate which is what I think I've been missing in my chocolate mix. So I just ordered that and you might see a second post on this. 

The best basic info I've found was on this site. I had to tweak some of their processes to get these two methods to work for me, so honestly what I'll tell you is to tweak as you go if you're trying not to follow someone else's recipe down to the berry they're using. Try to keep things in small amounts and separate so you can add and mix and sort it out as you go. 

Dalgona Coffee with Mint Caviar (Basic Spherification):

Start by making the sodium alginate mix by tossing 2 cups of water (475g give or take) with 2g of sodium alginate and blending the crap out of this. This is going to get gummy. That's ok. I've seen this boiled afterwards and that's what we did and it worked. So put it on the stove and give it a quick boil and then set it aside until it reaches room temp.

Then make some mint syrup (recipe found here).

Lastly, prep your calcium bath. I've read you need to get this to 0.5% solution, but that didn't work great for me, so I took it up to 1%. The calcium lactate dissolves very easily in water. I think if you have a wider, clear container it'll work better than the mason jar I used when you get to the next step (dropping). I've also read you want to use distilled water, but I didn't have any on hand when we did this. 

Once all this is assembled, mix equal parts mint syrup with the sodium alginate mix by volume (so 1/2 cup of each). Stir well until it's all mixed together. 

Lastly, you'll grab a dropper and slowly drop the mix into the calcium lactate bath. As the drops fall to the bottom, they should form little caviar shaped balls. Don't leave them in there too long or they'll turn into solid jelly balls. 

If you have a slotted spoon, use that to fish out the balls. Otherwise, pour GENTLY into a strainer of some sort. 

To finish this drink, I made some dalgona coffee put that on top of some milk and then gently rolled the mint caviar balls to rest on top of the dalgona. 

We fancy like that. 

Green and Red Grape Ravioli Latte (Reverse Spherification):

We went for it live on Instagram on this one. Basically, the night before I had more or less figured out how to make hojicha/matcha raviolis. But the next morning I saw I had red and green grapes in the fridge and just audibled on the spot. Here's what finally worked. Ish. 

Prepare your alginate bath a day in advance by getting to that .5% solution. I used 2g of alginate for 400g of water. Then put it in the fridge to get all the bubbles out. 

The mix I went with used 1 cup of grapes with 1 tablespoon of sugar, 2 grams of match/hojicha and 3 grams of calcium lactate. Blend. (I made two different mixes. One with matcha and green grapes and one with hojicha and red grapes. The idea was to have different colored raviolis.)

Now comes the tricky part. Once you have your mix, you'll take a small spoon and "pour" it into the sodium alginate bath. This is very tricky because as soon as it hits the bath, it'll start forming a membrane. If you pour it in slowly you'll get a weird blob. But if it's too watery and you pour it in quickly, it just sinks as a blob. 

My mix was way too watery. So I added a few grams of agar agar to thicken it up. For this to work well, I found that you want it to have almost a paste-like consistency. I've also seen people freeze the mix in molds to get the shape they want before they drop it in. 

I also find that if you use too large of a spoon, this just blobs on you. I got the best results using a 1/2 teaspoon, lower the spoon to where it just breaks the surface of the alginate bath and then quickly flipping the spoon in. This is more art than science. 

I put them all at the bottom of glass and then poured some oatmilk over it with the idea of drinking the ravioli with the oatmilk, but it didn't flow all that well. I think having a big chinese soup spoon is the move here with a little oat milk in the mix. 

Let me know if any of this works for you. Don't get discouraged if you fail. I've failed for years and only sort of pulled it off and honestly couldn't tell you if I could do it again tomorrow.