Rutabaga, cream, cocoa, and chocolate
When we first decided to start this project, we sat down and talked about how we would handle failing a recipe. We decided that we should blog our failures alongside our successes as this entire process should be one big learning opportunity. While reading through the book, we never thought that this simple looking rutabaga mousse would cause us so much frustration! This post will outline 3 procedures, 2 of which were unsuccessful.
The fun started with the peeling of a rutabaga. This vegetable is rock hard and covered in a fairly thick layer of wax which made it very slippery (and dangerous, might I add) to peel.
After some trial, error, and deliberation we ended up using a towel, a cleaver, and the floor to chop the root into manageable pieces.
The pieces were then placed into a medium-sized pot along with a cup of milk. The plan was to let the rutabaga simmer in full fat milk for about an hour until it was nice and soft. Unfortunately, after taking my eyes off the pot to clean up my workspace a little, the milk boiled over! This left us with a pot of curdled milk solids and hard chunks of rutabaga.
Not having another rutabaga on hand, I decided to keep cooking it until the root was soft enough to be puréed. Once soft, I strained the milk, washed the rutabaga, and added it to the blender. The mixture seemed to be sticking to the sides of the blender, so I tried to dislodge it using a wooden spoon while the blender was running.
For those of you trying this at home, that is just a horrible idea! I promptly blended the tip of the spoon, adding a nice woody texture to the purée. So it was off to the store to get a new rutabaga and some more milk.
For round two we wised up a little. Melissa pointed out that we could use the food processor to finely slice up the rutabaga. The processor flew through the entire root within a minute, which made me feel quite silly for having previously done it by hand. We also substituted full fat milk for some skim milk, in the hopes of not having it curdle.
Next, we added the sliced rutabaga to a pot, and this time covered it with skim milk (instead of just adding one cup) which was then slowly brought to a simmer. This time I kept a close eye on it, stirring every once in a while. About half an hour into the cooking, the pot of milk curdled all of a sudden and without warning! I assume that the pH of the root is too low, and once it starts breaking down the acid is enough to curdle the milk proteins. I threw it in the garbage and walked away. Sometimes things just don’t work out.
Round three! About a month later I decided to revisit this recipe, determined to not let a vegetable (of all things) beat me. This time I did my research, and was prepared. I found that the lower the fat content of dairy, the more likely it is to curdle, and that rutabaga purée is usually made with vegetable stock or almond milk so as to avoid curdling. I opted to use some almond milk as the internet assured me it would not curdle–plus it had the potential to add a pleasant nuttiness to the dish. We peeled the rutabaga and sliced it in the food processor, then added it to a pot and covered it with the almond milk. I have to admit I was a little worried that the rutabaga was going to somehow magically curdle the almond milk back into almonds… but to my surprise, the mixture did not curdle at all!
The cooking process went great this time! After an hour and a half of simmering, the rutabaga was soft and sweet with no unpleasant curdles. The mixture was strained and put into a blender with some of the cooking liquid. I puréed the mixture for about five minutes until it seemed as smooth as it could possibly get.
The purée was then transferred to a bowl with some whipping cream. For a nice change, I was proud of the resulting mixture! It was glossy and perfectly smooth, just like the purées you see in cooking competitions! Finally, the purée was transferred to a siphon and charged with N2O.
The cocoa butter part of the recipe was quick and easy and involved combining butter and cocoa powder over low heat. We plated it in a shallow bowl and grated some premium dark chocolate over the top as a finishing touch.
The final result was more impressive than I had hoped for… the mousse was light and fluffy and had a nicely incorporated nutty flavour. I don’t think this is a recipe that I’ll whip out for a dinner party, but I was impressed with the final result. Remember kids: if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again (but then stop after that last try cause it’ll get too expensive)!