Friday 2 May 2008
[To delicately devour - Dark chocolate sugar-free agar jelly]
Croissants aux amandes for breakfast. Rhubarb tart for lunch. Gianduja brioche for quatre-heures. Fruit cake for dinner.
This is probably what you think as my daily fare; and I won’t blame you. I mean, I bake cake, whip up entremets, assemble tarts, cut cookies out, proof bread doughs, make chocolate truffles, fill macarons, and put cupcakes together.
However, when it comes to my everyday life, I would most definitely choose a piece of warm crusty bread dipped in homemade guacamole, over a slice of the most decadent chocolate cake.
See, breakfast means for me: a cup of green tea with a dash of soy milk. Lunch is certainly composed of vegetables, eaten raw. Quatre-heures might include a piece of cheese and some kind of fruits. And dinner. Oh dinner! Legumes and cooked greens, and yes, something sweet.
Where do all the pastries end then? I think I owe you a couple of explanations.
Firstly, I rarely make full recipes, but instead, divide the proportions so they yield to a single tiny cake/tart/entremet. Those totally feed my post-dinner sweet cravings.
Secondly, I make my neighbours and co-workers (hmm, if you guys happen to read this, I promise I’ll bring something over soon) happy.
This only applies to the special pastries though. Not to the totally easy-to-make-and-healthy desserts I make for myself when I am in that indulge mood I love so much.
Whenever I feel like having something sweet, yet wholesome, I usually throw together a couple of natural and healthful ingredients, and the result is always eaten quickly, without the least guilt.
That last part – yes, the one about eating quickly – is the reason why I almost never share with you my much treasured recipes. That; and the fact I mostly make them at night, when it’s too dark outside to take decent pictures.
Today, however, I’m going to tell you about one of my favourite variations of the dessert I make the most: agar jelly. Chocolate agar jelly, that is.
I love agar – a seaweed galactose polymer – for many reasons. The first being its vegetal nature, which is great for people like me who try not to eat animals or animal products. The second reason is related to his high gelling properties, which make for a fast-setting jelly. And the third – and somewhat less explored – reason is its ability to form a gel that holds its shape even at high temperature (imagine jelly ribbons in a cake).
Some people argue against agar by bringing up the different mouth-feel and texture of agar jellies. While I do agree on that, I’ve made the choice not to consider agar as a replacement for gelatine, but as an ingredient of its own kind.
What I like about gelatine is how softly it melts in your mouth. With agar, a whole new array of sensations appears. The jelly has more bite and holds better. And it has that pleasing cold feeling; ‘cold’ having nothing to do with temperature, more with creaminess. The colder in mouth, the less creamy and the sleeker it feels.
* By the way, it’s totally my birthday today; so guys, I’m off to see my family for the week end. Hope you all have a lovely time around while I’m not here!
Gelée agar intense au chocolat noir, sans sucre
As said above, this chocolate sugar-free agar jelly is one of my favourites. I love how quick it is to prepare and how fast it sets into an intense chocolate glossiness.If you’re using agar for the first time, no need to be afraid, really. It’s very simple and you’re totally unlikely to mess up. Just sprinkle the agar over the tepid liquid and bring to the boil for one minute (or two if you’re feeling insecure). The resulting mixture will still be fluid and will set as it cools down.
Nonetheless, I’ve noticed that different brands of agar powder can yield to subtle differences in textures; so I strongly advise you test you agar powder. If it’s a little too firm today, reduce the amount you add the next time. I’ve found I need to use between 1.6 and 2.1 grams, depending on the brand I use.
The differences might also be explained by how difficult it is to accurately measure such small quantities. Even my kitchen scales show some troubles doing so.
Therefore, I generally use half a teaspoon (2.5ml) of loose agar powder and get great results.
And just in case you’re wondering, one serving contains less than a hundred kcal.
Gelée agar intense au chocolat noir, sans sucre
for eight servings
500ml skimmed milk
120g dark chocolate (55 to 66% cocoa solids), finely cut
1.8g agar powder
Put the milk and chocolate in a pan set over low heat and slowly mix until the chocolate is melted. The mixture should feel slightly warm, but definitely not hot.
Sprinkle the agar powder over the liquid and using a wire-whisk, mix so the powder dissolves and doesn’t form clumps. Increase the heat, bring to the boil and simmer for one minute, constantly stirring. Pour the mixture into a 500ml, or eight 70ml, jelly moulds, allow to set at room temperature for an hour before refrigerating. Unmould and serve.
pour 8 parts
500ml lait écrémé
120g de chocolat noir (entre 55 et 66% cacao), finement haché
1.8g agar-agar en poudre
Mettre le lait et le chocolat finement haché dans une casserole et chauffer a feu doux tout en remuant jusqu’à ce que le chocolat soit fondu. Le lait doit être tiède au toucher, mais surtout pas chaud.
Verser la poudre d’agar-agar en pluie sur le liquide tiède et mélanger vivement en utilisant un fouet pour dissoudre la poudre et obtenir une préparation homogène.
Porter le mélange à ébullition et laisser frémir pendant une minute puis débarrasser dans un moule d’une contenance de 500ml – ou huits petits moules – et laisser refroidir à température ambiante. Garder au frais puis démouler et servir.