An Excuse and an Experiment
This week’s recipe was actually several weeks in the works. Inspired by yet another wander through our grocery store, Chris happened upon a bag of Chestnuts and immediately knew he wanted to give Chestnut Orgeat a try – for a couple of reasons:
First – seriously – “Chestnut Orgeat” – need I say more? But secondly, he’d been asked by someone in the Facebook group for our Cocktail Design Program about tips for keeping Orgeat from separating. This was a perfect opportunity to experiment.
It can be quite a challenge to get Orgeat to incorporate well – and to stay incorporated. The person on Facebook was struggling because her staff was making a large volume of Orgeat but it separated very quickly and sometimes had a grainy texture.
Another member of the group suggested using Xantham gum to emulsify and stabilize the mixture. We didn’t have Xantham gum in the house, but we did have powdered gelatin, another thing you can use as an emulsifier. The experiment was set!
The Hypothesis: If you add gelatin to your Orgeat, it will reduce separation.
Let’s do this!
To see the exact steps Chris took to make the orgeat, just scroll down to the end of the “recipe” box below. Basically he added the tiniest bit (Roughly 1/16th of a tablespoon) of powdered gelatin to the Orgeat mix at the very end of the process.
The Results: Success! Even the tiny bit of gelatin added to the mixture did significantly delay separation – but it did not prevent it altogether.
While orgeat usually separates in 5-10 minutes, it took around three times as long to see the separation in ours. I call that a success! Of course, you could imagine adding more gelatin to the mixture may further delay separation – but don’t go too far or you’ll end up with Orgeat Jell-o! (Hmm, that sounds delicious!)
A Happy Side Effect
Now of course, we can’t end there. It’s time to make a cocktail! Chris used the Orgeat to make a variation on a “sour”, adding bitters for complexity and flavor. The resulting cocktail was truly beautiful with an especially silky foam across the top – perhaps a byproduct of the gelatin as well?
Inspired by the beautiful foam, Chris decided to break out his cocktail stencils and spritz our logo across the top. (Remember when he made this stencil back in 2014?)
Then the important part: he handed it to me to drink. It was truly delicious and unbelievably creamy. I won’t say it tasted overly “chestnutty” but pairing the Chestnut with the walnut bitters did create a nice nutty undertone to the drink.
But wait, there’s more!
So I enjoyed my drink and took a few notes, and Chris returned to the room a few minutes later and took a look at the drink. This is what he saw:
Yep – I’d nearly finished the drink but the stencil image on top was still nearly perfect! (Admittedly, I was too busy drinking it to notice, so I’m glad he did!) It seems the gelatin did make a difference in the cocktail foam, not just in its beautiful smooth and silky consistency, but in creating a very stable canvas for our stencil. How cool is that?
Our unlikely hero: Gelatin
So there you have it: adding gelatin (or perhaps any emulsifier) to your mix can have a definite – and delicious – effect in the final drink. I highly recommend experimenting with this, and I suspect this won’t be the last time we see Chris playing with Gelatin in his drinks.
Have you tried it? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear what you’ve learned!