Sweat the technique

New York's avant-garde food movement comes with a few tricks.

Fall Preview 2007

Photo: Beth Levendis

Apple-cider soda with froth from Jean Georges

Pastry chef Johnny Iuzzini’s fresh apple-cider soda, caramelized apple and sarsaparilla froth is  soon to be one component of a four-part, autumn-themed dessert at Jean Georges (Trump International Hotel & Tower, 1 Central Park West at Columbus Circle; 212-299-3900)

 

Day 1:

 

The cider

1 To create a cider with a deep apple flavor, Iuzzini fortifies local apple juice using four varieties, each with a distinct flavor profile: This time he’s got Crispin (sharp), Granny Smith (tart), Braeburn (fruity) and Royal Gala (sweet). He cuts them into chunks and places them in a pot, to which he adds a half gallon of cider.

Fall Preview 2007

Photo: Beth Levendis

2 Iuzzini creates a spice sachet of whole allspice, cloves, star anise, cinnamon, green cardamom and black pepper wrapped three times over in cheesecloth. He then cracks it with a rolling pin to release the oils.

3 He immerses the sachet and two vanilla beans, split and scraped, into the cider mixture, brings it to a boil, then reduces it to medium heat, simmering until the apples just start to break down and feel spongy (but not mushy) to the touch. Iuzzini lets it cool to room temperature, then pours the mixture into a cheesecloth-lined sieve that’s propped over a bowl. He folds the cheesecloth over the top, lightly pressing down on the solids, and puts the whole thing in the refrigerator overnight.

Fall Preview 2007

Photo: Beth Levendis

Day 2:

 

The soda

1 Iuzzini takes the liquid that’s drained from the apples, discards the solids and strains it again through a sieve that’s been triple-lined with cheesecloth, pouring the liquid down the sides of the sieve to catch the particles. He pours 750 milliliters into a one-liter plastic seltzer bottle, leaving 250 milliliters of space for the carbon dioxide.

2 To carbonate the cider, Iuzzini squeezes the bottle to remove the excess air, until the level of liquid comes to the top. He then closes it with a carbonation cap and injects carbon dioxide into the bottle using a homemade rig that allows him to control the number of PSI (pounds per square inch) entering the liquid (he uses 40 PSI, which creates smaller bubbles). The soda’s ready—he puts it on ice.

Fall Preview 2007

Photo: Beth Levendis

The sarsaparilla froth

1 Iuzzini toasts 200 grams of sarsaparilla bark (which gives off a root beer flavor), adds it to two quarts of boiling water, turns off the heat, and lets the bark and water sit, covered, for about 20 minutes.

2 Now that the water is infused with the flavor of sarsaparilla, he strains it through a cheesecloth-lined sieve and cools the water in an ice bath.

3 To make the froth, Iuzzini slowly whisks two grams of a powder called F50 methylcellulose—a hydrocolloid that gels and captures air to create a foam—into a mixture of 200 grams of sarsaparilla water and 50 grams of maple syrup. Once the powder mixes in, Iuzzini beats the liquid until it’s a fluffy white froth.

Fall Preview 2007

Photo: Beth Levendis

The caramelized apples

1 Iuzzini dices a Golden Delicious apple and sets it aside.

2 In a saucepan over a medium flame, he makes a dry caramel—a mixture of sugar and kosher salt that he lets melt, stirring occasionally.

3 Iuzzini adds butter and apples to the caramel, and sautés the apples until they’re coated. Once they’re tender, he removes the pan from the flame, adds a splash of apple brandy and carefully slides the pan back onto the flame—the mixture ignites. He sautés the apples until the brandy burns off, then transfers them to a baking sheet to stop the cooking and cools them to room temperature.

Assembling the dessert

1 In a small glass, Iuzzini spoons in the apples, pours fizzy cider over them and tops it with a crown of sarsaparilla froth. The toasty flavor of the caramelized apples adds a warm element to the fizzy, ripe juice, while the froth caps off the package—it’s no longer a soda, but an effervescent, drinkable Thanksgiving pie à la mode.

Apple-cider soda with froth from Jean Georges

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