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Oct 29, 2008 11:42 AM

How did the chef make it?

Recently I ate at L'Utopie in Quebec City. One of the things I was served was a "celeraic ball" that was a one-inch diameter sphere that was a firm "crust" on the outside (not crispy) and molten on the inside. The same technique of making a ball with a thick, liquidy center was used on the dessert. I tried to find out how it was done, but the kitchen wasn't sharing. Anyone out there know how this is done?

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  1. I suspect the general principle is frozen or gelatin center surrounded by an outer layer that firms up when cooked. As you cook the item, the center liquifies. I've seen this technique in two contexts:

    1. Soup dumpings. Freeze center, or use gelatinized stock, then surround them with dumpling skin. When you steam the dumpling, you get a soupy center.

    2. Poutine inversee: Freeze brown sauce and cheese in a pan, then cut it up into pieces. Dip the pieces in egg and potato flakes (and possibly flour, I don't know the exact recipe), dredging several times to create a solid outside layer. Then when you deep-fry them, the insides melt as the potato layer crisps up.

    1 Reply
    1. re: moh

      moh is right on. This is the exact technique used by PDC to make cromesquis. I have the recipe book from which they probably got the recipe.

    2. If it's not one of the methods moh mentioned, it could be some sort of "spherification" a la el bulli using sodium alginate and a calcium chloride bath, but if the outside was crusty they may have done something in addition to alginating the outside.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Lemon Curry

        Phew! That blows way past anything I know about or could do at home. Although if you are very interested, Adrian Ferra is now selling Spherification kits:

        I suspect based on the OP's description, spherification is more likely the technique used. At least, it would be far more impressive than the simpler techniques I suggested.

        It is quite amazing what can be done these days with food.

        1. re: moh

          cool! Here are some videos showing the technique:

          The beef sphere is cool.

          1. re: moh

            also, sells sodium alginate and calcium chloride, for a lot cheaper. I did an edible demo of this ( ) mango caviar last weekend for a kids' national chemistry week event, and they were really blown away by how cool and tasty spherification can be.

            The Alinea cookbook that just came out has recipes for large-scale spheres, rather than caviar: For exampe, ginger spheres made by filling hemispherical molds with ginger juice and calcium lactate mixture, then placing the frozen hemispheres in a warm sodium alginate bath, gelling the outside as it thaws.