A few weeks ago after seeing the Spain episode of Mind of a Chef one too many times, I finally broke down and bought myself a whipped cream siphon (specifically, this one). You may be wondering why I wanted to do this, given the fact that:
- My husband is lactose-intolerant and therefore we usually have little need for whipped cream in the house,
- I am not much of a baker and therefore do not whip up desserts on the regular that would call for whipped cream,
- It’s not a small amount of money to pay for what on the surface feels like it could very much just be a fun toy.
All valid points, I grant you. But if you watch “Spain” and specifically watch the segment in which David Chang and one of his pastry chefs make Albert Adrià’s microwave sponge cake too many times, a yearning to recreate this for yourself becomes far too persistent and annoying to ignore. Moreover, I actually had the recipe to make the cake because it’s included in the second issue of Lucky Peach, so it wasn’t as if I’d have to scour the internet in order to cobble together some incomplete facsimile. A quick search on Food and Wine’s website yielded a few more recipes that could be made with the siphon, so I felt like I had created a sizable argument in favor of getting one.
The only downside is that you have to buy nitrous oxide chargers for it, and even if you order them via Amazon Prime, you have to wait for a good week for them to arrive because they have to travel via ground delivery. Williams-Sonoma sells them too, which is where I got my first batch in order to dive into my experimentation right away.
But I digress.
My first few outings with the iSi were not the most successful because I went through nine of the ten chargers I purchased on only two recipes (whoops). Things were not coming out as fluffy as I expected, and particles were getting stuck and clogging up the line, especially when I first tried the sponge cake. This can definitely be attributed to the fact that I did not sift the dry ingredients prior to adding them to the batter, and when you use this tool, that is absolutely critical. Sifting flour is easy enough, but sifting the 50 grams of almond flour by hand took forever (read: a good half-hour) the second time I made the batter, but that time expenditure was totally worth the effort. The batter dispensed smoothly, and I dare say to a similar consistency as shown in the pictures of Lucky Peach and in the episode of Mind of a Chef. The only weird thing was that I was able to get 6 cakes out of half the batter, but the whole recipe says it will yield six cakes. I’m going to have to try it once or twice more to figure out what’s going here.
In the meantime, though, if you do feel so inclined to try your hand at foams, I would strongly suggest making the yogurt version from The Family Meal. It’s a step up from conventional whipped cream and makes for a relatively effortless dessert when you scatter some berries over top.
Instead of adding sugar I had the thought to add some St. Germain to see if the flavor would be picked up; four teaspoons of the stuff did give the yogurt a hint of elderflower, but I think a little more would be needed to really give it a distinct flavor. I’ll continue to work on that and hopefully come back with a modified recipe as the spring and summer unfold.
Yogurt Foam With Berries
Adapted from The Family Meal by Ferran Adrià
Serves 4-6 depending on your bowl size (using old fashioned glasses is probably the best way to keep portions controlled).
- 1 2/3 cup plain yogurt (I tried this with plain old Dannon)
- ½ cup heavy whipping cream
- Sugar (optional, but 1 tablespoon works)
- 1 N2O charger
- Berries of your choice
Mix the cream and yogurt very well in a bowl and add the sugar if desired. Place a funnel and fine-mesh sieve over the opening of the whipping siphon and strain the yogurt mixture into the canister, making sure to stay at the max fill line without going over. Place the lid on the siphon (make sure the gasket is secure), charge the siphon with the charger, shake well a few times, and let cool until ready to use.
When it’s time to serve, hold the canister upside down and shake vigorously. Carefully squeeze the trigger and fill into small bowls or glasses. Garnish with berries and serve immediately.