06 May 2009

Burch & Purchese Reader Question 1

Food Blogger Haalo asked us........

This is more a question about setting agents. I've heard that cocoa butter can be used as a replacement for gelatine in a dish like pannacotta. So far my search for anything more specific has come up empty but I am hoping that you'll be able to help. I am wondering about the proportions involved - how much cocoa butter would be needed to set the liquid? Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

Burch & Purchese wrote......

Thanks Haalo for this interesting question. Yesterday we conducted three experiments with cocoa butter and a basic panna cotta recipe. All three experiments we tried, used the same quantities, the difference was how we incorporated the cocoa butter. One recipe we melted the cocoa butter (in microwave) and added this to our milk, cream and sugar which had been boiled to dissolve the sugar. The next experiment was to melt the cocoa butter in a pan and add the rest of the ingredients, bring to the boil. The third was to boil the cream, milk and sugar and hand blitz this into cold melted cocoa butter. All three proved unsatisfactory, although they thickened, they were not totally set. To further add to the troubles was the fact that once chilled the fat (ie. cocoa butter) had in fact separated in all three mixes. This also left an unpleasant 'fat' film on the top of the mouth. The only solution we could think of was that Monoglyceride and diglyceride (obtained from glycerine and fatty acids) might help this as upon inclusion into a recipe with a watery medium they can act as emulsifiers. But this results in another problem, a 'panna cotta' is not an emulsion, it is a cooked cream which has been gelled. This brings us back to the question " I've heard that cocoa butter can be used as a replacement for gelatine in a dish like panna cotta", cocoa butter is not a hydrocolliod. Hydrocolliods are proteins and/or polysaccharides which are substances capable of forming gels in contact with water/liquids. Gelatine, the most commonly used gelling agent in panna cotta, is a hydrocolloid, as is agar agar, xanthan, gellan, guar gum and others. This brings us to the conclusion that yes, with the right quantity cocoa butter can and will set a panna cotta, but without the addition of stabilisers may prove an unsatisfactory product. The real problem arises that the addition of this 'fat' and stabilisers to the mix now makes this a different product to a panna cotta. Certainly cocoa butter by nature 'sets' ie. coagulates once chilled and this area should certainly be explored further. Ways of incorporating it into a recipe could be to first mix it into melted chocolate where it feels at home and is not prone to separation. Benefits of using cocoa butter in recipes is, its low cholesterol content and its neutral taste. This answers your question to the best of our ability so far but trust we will conduct further investigation. Thank you for your query and we hope you are satisfied with our response, however please lets us know if you find anything further in this matter. Thank you to everyone else if you are reading, we recommend you check out Haalo's excellent food blog at the link here CLICK HERE FOR HAALO


Haalo said...

I am definitely very satisfied with this answer and thank you both so much for providing such a detailed explanation.

Thermomixer said...

Interesting. I think Mycryo may actually be the cocoa butter product recommended as a substitute for gelatin in pannacottas.

Not sure where you buy yours - did ask a couple of suppliers who looked dumb when I asked. Do they have at MFID?

Also, with Sosa Gelcrem - is Philippe V the only supplier? can you substitute something else in your recipe for the choc turron?

On Sunday I was looking at pics of Philippe Mouchel at a class at Sunnybrae a few years ago spray painting his Akubra hat dessert.

Thanks for all the posts and congrats for Roberta's piece.