Listeners of the podcast will know that I’m terribly fond of cooking and doing silly things in the kitchen. Well thanks to a recent SeriousEats.com article (If You Like Brown Butter, You’ll Love Toasted Cream) I had a new culinary thing I just had to try..
Some background first. One of the world’s great culinary delights is Dulce de Leche – arguably the greatest addition to the world’s dessert pantheon from South America. The stuff is intense, like an unbelievably milky chewy caramel. If you look at the usual process behind the homemade versions, it’s a result of the intense cooking of sugar enriched condensed milk. The end result is unreal, a buttery sweet caramel… but.. our South American followers are about to cry heresy – I feel one of limited use.
First, before I get a thousand hate mails – yes, I recognize it’s in part due to me growing up in a non-dulce de leche culture. Yes, I freaking love dulce de leche as a better version of caramel, but having said that.. man, it wants to be a topping or a separate element, not something that can be incorporated into other things. (It’s really stiff, but so damn delicious)
That’s where Toasted Cream fits into the picture. Imagine if you could start the browning, the caramelization process without causing all the intense sugar and protein binding that happens when you push things. The end result is a liquid with those same intense “cooked”, “brown”, “caramel” type of aromas of flavors without the push into stiff, supremely sweet caramel. Think the Maillard reaction without the over constriction phase of a long boil.
Overall the process is easy enough. I grabbed two pints of heavy cream from my local Trader Joe’s and a small pinch of baking soda. Ok, it also requires either a sous vide cooker like a Joule or Anova or a pressure cooker like the current internet sensation – the Instant Pot. Both devices are incredibly useful, so don’t consider them one trick ponies! (No seriously I’m using one or the other every week)
The process is easy – whisk 1/4 tsp of baking soda into a pint of cream and cook. If you’re going sous vide, which yields less intense browning, you cook the cream in a bad at 180°F for a full day. If you’re use a pressure cooker, you divide into 2 12 ounce jars and cook at 15 p.s.i. (aka 250°F) for 2 hours. (With an instant pot, I move the time to 2:30 due to the instant pot’s lower pressure) I also boosted the amount of the recipe by half to fit 2 16 oz jars, so that’s what I’ll show below
Basic Toasted Cream Recipe
For 2 pint jars of toasted cream (12 ounces of cream per jar)
1.5 pints Heavy Cream
3/8 tsp Baking Soda
- Whisk Cream and Soda together
- Divide between two pint canning jars. Put lids on finger tight.
- Fill pressure cooker 1″ deep with water
- Cook jars on rack for 2-2.5 hours (depending on pressure)
- Allow to cool naturally and use
Look at the pictures. Before, it was snow white heavy cream, ready for service. After the cooking, it’s become light caramel in color with those toasty, lightly smokey tones of a light caramel. The cooking has intensified the natural milk sugars and added a slightly burnt marshmallow flavor. Definitely some toasted nuts. It’s amazing and well worth the standalone efforts.
So what did I do with it? Two simple things – Whipped cream in a berry trifle and a modified version of a White Russian (inspired by Cocktail Chemistry) Recipes to follow!
Toasted Whipped Cream
(This feels like a cheat as a recipe, but then again, so’s the pressure cooker recipe)
Toasted Cream, chilled
Pinch of salt
Powdered sugar to taste
- With a whisk, mix cream, extract and sugar. Beat lightly
- As cream begins to thicken, add sugar, a few tablespoons at a time and continue beating
- Beat to desired thickness and sweetness. Use as normal
Drew’s Toasted Fruit Trifle
This is my riff on a British trifle. Nowhere near a classic trifle as this is really just a blend of cookie crumbs, sugared fruit and whipped cream. But man, when berries are fresh and great, it’s hard to beat.
For 4-6 servings.
4 pints of in season berries/fruits (I use strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries in two separate layers. Use whatever’s awesome)
3/4 cup sugar, divided
1 box Walkers shortbread cookies, blitzed into crumbs
1 box Biscoff cookies (or other darker cookie), blitzed
1 pint Toasted cream
- Slice berries into thinner spoonful sizes. Segment accordingly (I usually do color batches – e.g. Strawberries/Raspberries in one bowl, Blackberries/Blueberries in another).
- Mix berries with sugar evenly and allow to macerate on the counter for 30-60 minutes.
- Whip Toasted Cream ala Whipped Toasted Cream recipe to stiff peaks
- In a clear bowl (for maximum effect, otherwise do as you will), layer dark cookie crumbs and the red fruit. Top with whipped cream and smooth
- Repeat with a layer of shortbread and blue fruit and cream
- Repeat until you run out of fruit and cream – top with remaining cookie crumbs. Serve and eat
The Toasted Russian
1.25 oz Kahlua
2 oz Vodka
1.25 oz Toasted Cream
- Add ingredients to a shaker glass filled with ice in the order listed. Add cream last to prevent any frozen clumps of fat.
- Shake cocktail for 10-15 seconds and then strain into a rocks glass
- Sip and abide.
So there you go – a little break from beer – a little more fun with science and things we eat!