strawberries and cream cupcake topped with strawberry agar agar jelly pearls
Goodness, I had a fabulous finish to 2010 when I was invited in December to give an interview on the gorgeous blog Haniela's, then on Christmas Eve I was featured on my all time favourite cupcake blog Cupcakes Take The Cake which caused me to burn the turkey I'm sure as I was so distracted and happy!!
On to the first cupcake of 2011, which ties into answering the first email of year (ok, technically this a December 2010 mail but you know I'm always running behind) which comes from Issy in Auckland NZ and read.....
hi love your blog and I wanted to know if you can make fruit pearls without the chemicals. I'm a vegetarian so gelatine isn't an option. i wanted fruit pearls to go on cupcakes.
Thanks for the mail Issy. The chemicals Issy is referring to are from an earlier post I did on making fruit caviar/pearls with the molecular gastronomy method favoured by many chefs.
Ok, Issy you can make fruit pearls or caviar with just agar agar, however you have to use them immediately if you are using them for cupcake toppers as they shrink dramatically when exposed to air. They do taste exactly of the juice you use & are easy to handle. Unlike the molecular gastronomy version that are a gel "case" with fluid inside the agar agar version are a solid soft gel.
Making Strawberry Agar Agar Pearls
you will need accurate scales and a plastic syringe
100 ml (3.4 fluid oz) of strawberry juice or juice of choice
1 gram (0.035 oz) of agar agar powder
1 cup of flavourless vegetable oil
Apple juice for storing the pearls in.
In a small saucepan whisk together the juice and the agar agar powder. Over medium heat, whisking constantly bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the agar agar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and let the mixture stand for 4 to 5 minutes.
Fill your syringe with the juice mixture and add to the oil... drop by drop.
Strain the pearls from the oil and transfer to apple juice until ready to use. The apple juice washes away the oil residue and the leftover cup of oil can be reused for baking.
Now you will have perfect small fruit pearls ready to top your cupcakes.
And here comes the "but"... these guys shrink dramatically when exposed to air.
On the left is one of the fruit pearls after being exposed to air for 3 hours, on the right is a nonpareil (a hundred and thousand sprinkle).
As you can see the shrinkage is extreme, but if you're serving them straight away they are pretty, taste great and easy to make.
Hope that helped Issy, let me know if you decide to make them.
Happy Baking :)
Plum fruit caviar/pearls the molecular gastronomy method
A hybrid gel that moulds easily and is extremely stable, made from gelatine/agar agar is used to create gel shapes for topping peanut butter frosting.