We recently had the opportunity to attend a pastry demonstration by Jacob Torreblanca, son of the Spanish pastry master, Paco Torreblanca. The demo was hosted by Qzina in Pompano Beach. Fabian had signed up for it, and Chef K and myself went along to observe some of the Spanish cutting edge techniques (among a handful of other non-pastry chefs who came to gawk).
The demonstration consisted of 3 dessert plates and all of their components. The 2 main ideas that have obvious savory applictions were the cornstarch coating for heavy syrups and the isomalt caramel 'bells' also used to make cocoons of sugar.
Heat and melt the isomalt in a pan and bring to a boil. Slowly add the water and mix well.
This caramel (although clear and not amber) was used in several applications. To make the bells, the caramel is poured into heated metal ring molds sitting on a silpat. The ring is then pulled up to make the fluted bell shape in the dessert. This is also the process used to make the cocoons. When the ring is pulled up, a solid food (here shown with sugared flowers) or liquid is dropped into it and sealed off.
This technique was used to make the garnish for the macaron 'sandwich.' The method was also used to show how liquids could be encased in the stretched sugar. Salad vinaigrettes could be placed in caramel casing on top of the vegetable or greens or whatever you can imagine.
We followed what we could throughout the 3 hour demo which started to be in Spanish translated into English and later switched to French... a multi-lingual exhibition. We sat behind the pastry team from Barton G's who also spoke French to each other the whole time.
The last technique that I want to share has been done in Spain for awhile now. It's a process of creating liquids suspended in starch/sugar shells. A video of this process can be seen here (scroll down to Paco Torreblanca at the bottom and click on the video). A tray is filled with cornstarch and leveled off smoothly. The cornstarch is then heated to 104 degrees F. Holes are made into the cornstarch with the desired shape of the final product. A flavored syrup is then dropped into the holes and more cornstarch is dusted over the top with a sifter. They must sit in the cornstarch for at least 6 hours at the same above temperature. The syrup capsules will form hard thin shells around them that can be sifted out and utilized in many ways. The one shown here is a broken one that was passed around the room. You can see the thin eggshell coating and the syrup pooling out. Jacob showed clips of capsules that were filled with vinegars and other liquids. Some had saffron threads or other solids freely floating in the liquids. He also had some with carefully injected air bubbles that moved around as the capsules were rotated. Some were made extremely small and filled with vodka... vodka sugar pills.
At first thought, it would seem that the shell forms by a reaction between the sugar and the cornstarch. So how do the vinegar and oil ones work? I believe that these are discussed in the new book, but we have yet to view it.
I'll wait until one of these guys buys it.