An event to demonstrate molecular gastronomy through desserts was held by the Keene State College Dining Services and the KSC Chemistry Lyceum Club in the Zorn Dining Commons for the first time on Thursday, March 28.
Executive Chef of the Zorn Dining Commons Richard Ducharme collaborated with chemistry students to create desserts through molecular gastronomy, which can be applied to any food that can be turned into a liquid, according to Ducharme.
Ducharme and chemistry students made multiple desserts using molecular gastronomy, including a cocoa caviar on strawberry soup with creme fraiche.
“In that cocoa, there’s simple syrup, which is sugar and water, the alginate and the water. There is not a lot of ingredients in that, but to be specific with the measurements of them is vital to the success of what it is,” Ducharme said.
All ingredients include sodium alginate, which is derived from brown seaweed, sugar, water, cocoa, calcium chloride and a water rinse bath.
According to Ducharme, the solution gets dropped into a calcium bath that is carefully measured.
The solution sits for about a minute and will form a shell that contains a cocoa liquid on the inside and the sphere on the outside.
After the sphere is made, the spheres are rinsed in water to get the calcium off and then are served with the strawberry soup and crème fraiche.
“It has to do with pH balance; it has to do with the alginates, there derived of natural ingredients, which is important to know and we spoke a lot about that as we met,” Ducharme said.
According to the Lyceum Club, this process is known as spherification, which is a specific form of food science where a liquid is being transformed into a round, edible solid.
KSC Sophomore and Chemistry Major Melissa Wydra explained the process of molecular gastronomy.
She said, “It’s a chocolate solution mixed with a sodium alginate. Sodium alginate is what we’re adding as a powder so it’s easily dissoluble within the solution. That cooks down with the simple syrup. Then, it’s chilled for about 24 hours. That is called pulled into a pipette with calcium solution so it’s a ratio of calcium and water. What we are doing is pipetting that chocolate solution into the calcium solution. What is happening is the alginate, and the calcium are forming the outside of the sphere while the chocolate is on the inside. After that, just to get the saltiness off, which is the calcium on the outside, we just rinse it in water and then serve it.”
Ducharme explained that this molecular gastronomy event was part of Sodexo’s promotional programming for students.
KSC Junior and President of the Chemistry Lyceum Club Heather MacLennan spoke about how she was able to get the Lyceum Club involved in the project.
“Suzanne Becker [unit marketing coordinator for Sodexo] contacted us, and they were really interested. They introduced us to the molecular gastronomy project. With professor Kraly and Melissa, we said yeah let’s definitely do it. We would love to get out on campus. We’ve always been really focused on getting out and doing community outreach,” MacLennan said.
MacLennan explained how participating in the molecular gastronomy demonstration directly related to her studies.
“Being a nutrition major, I’m in food science, and it’s something I’m really interested in. Actually getting to try something totally brand new with the spherification, which we’re doing today, was really interesting to learn about and actually get to practice. You get great hands-on experience,” MacLennan said.
Wydra mentioned how the molecular gastronomy demonstration has benefited her and the Lyceum Club.
“It’s a really cool thing to get involved in because it gives us an opportunity to show off our science skills as well as collaborate with another organizations on campus,” Wydra said.
KSC Junior and Chemistry Major Mallory Pearce commented on the success of the demonstration.
“I am really happy with the way it was received. Everyone was curious and came over to us and asked us questions. I found that really rewarding,” Pearce said.
Ducharme said the he didn’t know if he could have ran the program without the help and support of the chemistry students on campus.
“Their interest in it definitely inspired me to do it, and they were just as into it as I was,” Ducharme said.
Jacob Knehr can be contacted at email@example.com