Looking for something that hardens and melts at a similar temperature point as chocolate
I'm looking to create a dish that resembles many different types of bones made from different molds. I'm already planning on using white chocolate for fish bones with a black olive center and was curious as to what other people would use to create a dish that resembles a bone but isn't white chocolate.
I've thought of draping soft raclette over one of the molds and then filling it with mashed potatoes and quince paste.
Depending on the temperature range you need, you could use gelatin or agar as Karen has already mentioned, or methocel or isomalt. Unfortunately, none of them harden/soften in the same temperature range as chocolate.
Gelatin has a soft texture though you can form it into brittle sheets if you dry it out; not sure how well you can form into a hollow mold without breaking it. Gelatin also melts under temperature and also rehydrates in the presence of liquid (ergo your coffee painting won't work too well), but you can temperature-stabilize the gelatin with transglutaminase.
Agar will also melt at high temperatures (e.g. close to boiling) but agar forms can be heated more than gelatin can. Higher agar concentrations will give you a product texture similar to yokan (Japanese confection), which can be odd in terms of mouth feel if you're not used to it.
Methocel can actually be formed but the problem is that it will only hold those forms when they're hot (>50ºC). FoodPlayerLinda's "Playing with Fire and Water" blogsite has a methocel primer to get you started (you just have to locate the methocel).
If a brittle texture is an absolute requirement, you could always try isomalt; edible, can be shaped, can be colored. It's still got an underlying sweetness but isn't sickly sweet.
The Agar Agar is a great idea - I hadn't thought of that. I'll have to try it. And I didn't even think of using methocel. That could be quite interesting. Especially if I were able to create a plate of bones in which some melted, some softened and some stayed hard - so that after a few minutes the plate would actually become and entirely different dish in structure. I'm definitley going to have to play around with this for my next meal. Unfortunately - it didn't turn out this time around. My mold making skills weren't up to par - and I miss-judged the type of silicone I was going to need to set it properly - so I changed the dish entirely.
I said I would post photos and I did - on my blog. The 'Bones" idea was originally for the I'm an Animal by Neko Case dish - which is now a quail and tempura dish.
I will certainly be trying the agar-agar and methocel approach soon though. Great ideas and feedback!
Here's the blog link:
An obvious possibility is using gelatin or agar agar made with milk or coconut milk to make opaque white bones. For savoriness, you could infuse the milk with flavors beforehand. I have a squash lasagna recipe that infuses milk with garlic & rosemary before making the bechamel sauce, and it's a great effect. If you do it in three stages, you could fill them with something (fill 3/4 full, let set, hollow out channel, add 'marrow', let set, cover with remaining 'bone').
Marzipan would be another sweet choice. Good luck!
It looks like you're open to savory ideas. Polenta would firm up in a large bone mold, like a femur. What are your molds made of? Plastic like candy molds, or ceramic, or something else? Lightly oiling or buttering plastic molds will help with unmolding.
Mozzarella cheese melts and refirms on cooling. You might try that.
How scientifically precise are you aiming for? At Halloween there were lots of suggestions for witches' fingers made out of cookie dough or cheese straw dough. You could fashion an entire skeleton hand and bake it over a tin foil ball to give it dimension.
Is this an entire meal you're working on? I'd love to hear more about the project. Sounds intriguing.
I'm making my molds out of silicone - I've got a few diferent fish spines which I'll be using the white chocolate for since it's the most delicate. Then I was thinking of doing something with cheese for larger bones - perhaps duck bones and then working my way up to possibly faux marrow bones.
I'm in the process of creating a menu for a dinner I'm doing next weekend. With the end of the year here I'm going to do a ten course tasting menu based off of my top ten songs of 2009. This dish is based off of Neko Case's "I'm An Animal". I thought it would be pretty tongue in cheek to serve my guests a plate of bones.
I like the idea of using mozzarella cheese. Or a dough of some sort. I really want the appearance of something hard and inedible and yet surprise you in your mouth. I'll be painting the bones with strong coffee and tea to get them to look real too.
What an ambitious project! I'm probably not alone in wanting to hear about all 10 songs and courses. I didn't realize you wanted to stick with animal bones. For the marrow bones, I wonder if you could make them with a savory tuille and fill them with duxelles. And this is all happening in a week? Hope it turns out fabulously.
Staying with chocolate for a minute, use very fresh store-bought fudge (either dark for the filling or white for the "bone"). Because of a grave moral error in the modern commercial recipe*, it's usually soft enough to push around like modeling clay, as I did making a pie-crust recently. Another possibility for a white substance is divinity (or infinity, as my youngest daughter called it when she was little), although it may not be as malleable as soft fudge.
*I love fudge that's grainy and very firm, not smooth and soft.