Gluten-Free, Xanthan Gum and Chocolates?

Just as I was ready to voice my concern about the extensive use of xanthan gum in gluten-free product, a study reported by the International Journal of Food Science and Technology informed me about the beneficial effects of the gum in baked products.

Food scientists tested xanthan gum by adding various concentrations of it to gluten-free cakes that used corn and rice flour. The quality of the cakes containing the gum, in any concentration, was superior to the one without the gum. The cakes had enhanced structure, (which improved appearance and texture), the moist content of the cake with the highest concentrations of the gum was superb and testers even reported a better taste. Amazing. I guess in that case I must not only accept, but embrace the gum’s use in gluten-free bakery products? What do you say? Did you ever baked with the gum? I would be interested to know about your experience.

Since I was in a mood to review the literature to see what is happening in the food industry, particularly with respect to baking products, I continued to search until I arrived to the Barry Callebaut report. It appears, that they are experimenting with sugar substitutes in chocolates.

I love Callebaut’s products, because they are one of the best with respect to dipping; they produce chocolates with perfect viscosity. I am not sure if I told you in earlier posts, but either for dipping or enrobing chocolate confections, the viscosity of the chocolate is extremely important.

What viscosity means: if the melted chocolate is too thick/too heavy (viscous), it is nearly impossible to get a nice finish for the product you are trying to create. The coating becomes too heavy and uneven, because the heavy chocolate attaches itself to your product. For instance, I tried to work with Guittard’s chocolate, because it was easier to obtain at my current location, but that was the first and last time. Heavy, does not even describes it. On the other hand, when the melted chocolate is thin, fluid and flows beautifully (like Valrhona’s products), it will produce a beautiful, thin, shiny coverage. The truth of the matter is, that Valrhona’s products never disappoint you.

To go back to the story of Callebaut, what I do not like about them is their secretive nature. They do not understand what it means to be transparent. In today’s market companies have to be more open if they want to be better than their competition.

I understand that they want to protect their proprietary products, but there are many ways that you can report scientific data, or creative products without divulging confidential data. Anyway, they believe that this new chocolate product will be a big success with people who are concerned about their weight. I guess we will wait and see. Taste is still important to chocoholic like myself.

I am going to end my post on a great note. Researchers in the UK analyzed seven clinical studies that involved over 100,000 volunteers and found that high levels of chocolate consumption are associated with a significant reduction in the risk of certain heart disorders.. Eating dark chocolate was linked to lower rates of stroke, heart disease, high blood pressure and other heart illnesses. In fact, those that consumed the most chocolate had decreases of 37 percent in the risk of any heart disorder and 29 percent in the risk for stroke.

That is great news for us; so lets continue to consume our favorite chocolates for our health. In honor of this report I prepared a great chocolate mousse that you can enjoy with or without whipped cream, and if you wish to freeze it, it will turn into a delicious chocolate ice cream.

Classic Chocolate Mousse

Ingredients

  • 250g dark chocolate (for mousse, I use chocolate with up to 66% cocoa)
  • 3 eggs separated at room temperature
  • 45g dark brown sugar (preferably muscovado)
  • 310ml heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla or 1 ounce of your favorite liqueur

Method of Preparation

  1. Chop the chocolate to about 1-inch size pieces.
  2. Place the chocolate in a microwave safe dish and microwave it on full power for 40 seconds.
  3. Take the dish out of the microwave and stir it vigorously to help to melt all the pieces of the chocolate. If after this you still have hard pieces in the dish, microwave it for another 20 seconds and stir it well.
  4. Alternatively, you can melt the chocolate by placing the dish that has the chocolate pieces on top of simmering water until the chocolate melts completely.
  5. Allow the chocolate to cool.
  6. Whisk the egg whites to soft peak.
  7. Add the brown sugar in three increments, whisking the egg whites after each addition, to stiff peaks. The egg whites should look glossy when ready.
  8. Add 60ml heavy cream to the egg yolks and mix it well.
  9. Add this egg mixture to the melted chocolate and whisk to a smooth mass.
  10. Gently fold the egg whites to the chocolate mixture.
  11. Whisk the heavy cream to soft peaks.
  12. Fold the heavy cream to the chocolate/egg white mixture gently, just until combined. It is acceptable to have some white streaks in the mixture.
  13. Divide the mousse into three glasses or decorative serving glass and refrigerate.
  14. Whisk the rest of the heavy cream to firm peak.
  15. Serve the chocolate mousse after 2-3 hours with or without whipped cream.
  16. Decorate the chocolate mousse and whipped cream with grated chocolate.

Other Variations

1. Instead of grated chocolate decorate the mousse with shaved chocolate without whipped cream.

OR

Chocolate Espresso Mousse

2. Dissolve 1 teaspoon of good quality instant espresso powder in 1 teaspoon boiling water and add this to the chocolate mixture before folding in the egg whites.

OR

Chocolate Orange Mousse

3. Add finely grated orange zest to the chocolate mixture before folding the egg whites and 2 tablespoons orange liqueur (i.e. Grand Marnier);Decorate this one with candied orange peel.

4. Preparing candied orange peel: place 110g superfine sugar (bakers sugar) into 1 cup water over low heat and stir until the sugar dissolves completely. Then increase the heat to high and add the pieces of orange peel (the peel can be prepared by slicing pieces of orange peel from two oranges, to about 1mm size); cook it for about 15 -18 minutes, or until the peel becomes translucent.

I trust you can enjoy any of the mousse, or create your own with your favorite flavorings. I love to “munch” on this, as you can see on the photos, while relaxing next to the TV, or reading a good book, or between preparing posts like this one or leading a webinar.

I would love to know what type(s) of chocolates you like? Did you prepare it with a different method? Or added other flavorings, etc. We can learn from one another and then teach our methods to our children.