Question about spices and dairy

Discussion in 'Professional Pastry Chefs' started by jellly, Nov 4, 2010.

  1. jellly

    jellly

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    I have a very simple hot chocolate I make at work that is just Valrhona chocolate and half-and-half.  I use natural flavorings like mint leaves, orange zest or coffee beans, but for Autumn I have been trying some spice varieties and have run into an issue.

    When I have tried using cinnamon and clove to infuse the half-and-half it becomes quite thick.  I thought perhaps the cinnamon oil was interacting with the dairy, but then I tried toasting and then steeping the spices in water first and the water thickened and had a bit of a gelatinous quality to it.  

    I have never encountered something like this and wonder if anyone knows what is happening?  I know I can make chai tea with milk and not have a problem from the spices, but this mixture needs to be stronger so that it is not overpowered by the chocolate.

    Any suggestions or explanation?
     
  2. chefpeon

    chefpeon Kitchen Dork

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    Why take the trouble to infuse the cinnamon and cloves? Why not just sprinkle the ground spices into the hot chocolate at the end of the heating period?
     
  3. jellly

    jellly

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    I have to hold the hot chocolate throughout a 6 hour service and I don't want to leave the flavoring up to the servers.  I think because this hot chocolate has such a high ratio of chocolate that I need the flavors to be a bit assertive to balance out.  Whether I leave the spices in or strain them out, I still experience the texture change I mentioned above.  I have tried looking online but am just puzzled about the cause.
     
  4. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    Are you using whole spices or ground?

    If ground, there might be something like corn starch in them as an anti-caking agent that might impart the gelatinous effect you've been experiencing.
     
  5. chefpeon

    chefpeon Kitchen Dork

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    Perhaps try using just whole milk instead of half and half? If you start with a thinner liquid, perhaps it won't gelatinize so much by the end of service. I looked online for the cause of thickening in relation to spices and dairy, and couldn't find an answer either........

    Phatch......that's a good answer......anti caking agents. Never thought of that. I'd suggest using cinnamon stick and whole clove also, instead of the ground.......
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2010
  6. chefedb

    chefedb

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    A lot of ground spices have  calcium silicate added to prevent caking. This could be problem.
     
  7. jellly

    jellly

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    Thank you very much.  I will try this with whole spices and see how it turns out.  I appreciate all your input.