In Lab: Working with Temperature with Molten Chocolate Cake
The end semester is nearing: only two weeks until classes are done, and then finals period. I think there might be a school time warp, because the school year always flies by faster than seems physically possible—just another reason to cherish the moment!
With that in mind, as promised, each week I’ll be featuring one of my classes for the semester (four in total). Probably one the most popular class I’m taking is the general education course, Science & Cooking: From Soft Matter Science to Haute Cuisine.
This is Science & Cooking’s second year running; so many people were interested in it in its first year that there was a lottery admitting only 350 students of 670 that signed-up for it. The class has been featured in local and national news.
The reason for all the hype? The course is essentially taught by guest chef lectures ranging from Ferran Adrià (of El Bulli fame), Wylie Dufrense (who you may have seen on Top Chef) and, of course, the repeated visitor Harold McGee (writer of the book, On Food and Cooking). We get to hear from everyone including local restaurant entrepreneurs (such as Barbara Lynch and Ana Sortun) to high-tech chef Dave Arnold (who is actually both hilarious, and a genius, at once! See: Chocolate N’Lemon Cocktail).
Don’t let all the famous names and fancy restaurants fool you though, this course asks you to engage with real science on a molecular level. Learning about aioli? Prepare to know the way to determine optimal volume ratios for the bubbles in the emulsion. Interested in classical French sauces? Make sure you can name the function of and types of polymers. We have lab every week where we put to practice what we learn, and my lab group is now working on our final project that will be presented in a December on-campus food-science fair.
Working on our Final Project with a Moka Coffee Maker
Our final project is testing different coffee brewing methods (Moka, Drip, Pour-Over, and French Press) for their acidity (pH) and oil-content using a centrifuge. Needless to say, I now have a well of energy after sampling our finished products in labs.
So even though the class is heavily science focused, it’s extremely interesting and applicable. Not to mention the delicious array of samples handed out in a class: a definite plus, but all for the purpose of science, of course.
Barbara Lynch: Coconut-Cream & Chocolate Ganache “Banana Split”
Hope everyone has a great weekend and, if you’re celebrating, a good Thanksgiving next Thursday!