Introduction: Honeycomb Fruit Gel & Yogurt Spheres
This dessert really surprised us. We knew it would be a playful twist on the refreshing classic honey-fruit-yogurt combo, yet we did not expect how exhilarating it is to bite into an odd little sphere that bursts like a cherry tomato yet it's honey infused yogurt, or how magically the little honeycomb cells holds the golden honey as we scoop up one delicious bite after another.
Honestly, if there's a 'Habitat for BEEmanity' fund-raising dinner, guests would love this! It's not only an amazingly tasty dessert that is a celebration of so many gifts from nature that are made possible by the work of the bees, but also such a delightful experience to eat!
Step 1: Honeycomb Fruit Gel
Bees are so incredible! How much have they inspired humans in design and architecture? Just look at the honeycomb structure, we have to scratch our heads even if we want to copy it!
In this step, the yummy fruits are transformed into the mysterious honeycomb gels, and your guests are going to say ' How did you make that?'
The selection of fruit you use is totally up to you. Choose what’s in season and tasting great! We used cherry, blueberry, nectarine, honeydew, and strawberry. You may see some variation in the gelling depending on the fruit. This may take some trial and error but in general the process is the same. Be that artist you always wanted to be! The variety of colors and flavors is the beauty in this dish. Here is what you will need for each variety of fruit:
½ Cup Fresh Fruit in cut in small pieces
1 Packet of Gelatin (1/4 oz packet) (for high water fruit like melon use 1 ½ packets)
1 Tbsp Honey
1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
You will also need to have the following ready to go:
1 Baking tray lined with bubble wrap that has been washed and dried
*Size depends on variety of fruit. We found that 1 9”x13” sheet was good for 4 fruits
Place the fruit in the blender with the lemon juice and blend to a smooth puree. Pour into small stainless steel bowl and sprinkle in gelatin while stirring to prevent lumps. Let the fruit puree sit for 5 minutes so the gelatin can bloom or hydrate. During this time you can begin to prepare the next fruit. If you start with the light colored fruit and work to the darker colors, you don’t have to be so careful about washing the blender.
Place the bowl of puree over a double boiler and stir until the fruit feels warm to the touch. The purpose is to melt the gelatin. The puree will have thickened up a bit from the gelatin. Once the gelatin is melted, the puree should resemble its original consistency. There should be no lumps or grains of gelatin. Add the honey and pour the puree onto a section of the bubble wrap. Start in one corner of the pan and let the puree flow naturally. For very wet fruit you may see some leaching of juice. This happened to our honeydew puree! No problem, just use a smaller separate pan for this fruit so you contain the liquid.
Repeat this with the remaining fruits. Allow the puree to cool to room temperature and then place the pan in the freezer.
Step 2: Cutting and Plating the Fruit Gels
The gels only need to be in the freezer until they are solid but can be left longer. This helps the bubble wrap separate from the fruit. Take the fruit out of the freezer and invert the sheet onto a pan lined with plastic wrap or parchment paper. At this point the fruit gels can be held in the fridge until needed, up to a couple of days. Now it’s time to cut the fruit into a variety of shapes and sizes. We stayed with the honeycomb theme as you can see in the pictures. You most likely will have some scraps. Just put them together and make a gelled fruit salad to enjoy later!
Choose the serving plates and arrange the fruit gel as you wish. You can make a platter that can be shared or individual plates. After plating the fruit gels, it is best to place the plates into the refrigerator while you prepare the yogurt spheres.
Step 3: Spherified Honey Yogurt
After this experience, I can truly tell you it is so so worth a try!!
Spherification is a process made popular in the culinary world by Ferran Adrià of legendary El Bulli restaurant in Roses, Spain. Many would call him the pioneer of what is most commonly referred to as molecular gastronomy. Spherificaton is a whimsical technique that is used to create an element of surprise in the dining experience that is also delicious. Simply explained, when a mixture containing calcium comes in contact with a mixture containing alginate or vice versa, a reaction takes place that forms a gel. When the calcium containing liquid is the one being gelled, the process is referred to as reverse spherification. There is a lot of information and videos on spherication on the internet. Here is one that explains the process we will use, http://www.molecularrecipes.com/spherification/re...
This recipe for yogurt spheres was adapted from a recipe found in the book Made in Spain by Chef José Andrés.
For the yogurt spheres you will need to prepare the following at least 2 hours in advance to let the air bubbles dissipate. Bubbles can inhibit gelling. Alginate is an extract of seaweed with cold and hot gelling properties. It is readily available from many internet stores
4 Cups of Filtered Water (calcium in unfiltered water can cause the alginate to gel)
2 Tsp Sodium Alginate
Place water and alginate in a blender and blend on medium speed for one minute so the alginate is completely dissolved. Pour mixture into a dish that is about 4 inches deep and ideally just big enough so the liquid is about 1 inch from the top edge. Place in the refrigerator to rest.
1 Cup Plain Full Fat Yogurt
2 Tbsp Honey
¼ Cup Whole Milk or Filtered Water
Using a spoon or whisk mix all of the ingredients until well blended. It is easier to fully blend in the honey if it is slightly warm and liquefied. This can easily be done by warming it in the microwave for just a few seconds or over a double boiler. This mixture can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator until ready to use or used immediately. The spheres can be made in advance but we found it best to make them at the time of service because they can be fragile.
Making the Spheres
Remove the alginate solution from the refrigerator. Prepare a second container of equal size with filtered water. You will need a slotted spoon or fine mesh skimmer, a teaspoon measure, and a plate to hold the completed spheres. If the slots in the spoon are too large the sphere will hang through and potentially tear so smaller holes are better.
Scoop the yogurt mixture into the teaspoon and drain off any excess by pulling the bottom along the edge of the dish. In a single, fluid motion drop the yogurt into the alginate mixture. The spoon should just break the surface of the liquid. Doing this too slowly with result in the spheres having tails instead of being round. This takes some practice so don’t be discourage if they aren’t perfect! In the beginning it is easier to do one sphere at a time but it is possible to create multiple spheres in the same container. Just be careful to avoid having the spheres touch each other or they will stick and then break when you try to separate them.
After dropping the sphere or spheres into the alginate, gently swirl the liquid with a spoon to be sure the spheres are not touching and the skin forms over the entire surface. The skin will continue to get stronger as the calcium and alginate are in contact. We found 3-4 minutes worked well for us. This allowed a skin to form that was strong enough but not too thick. The viscosity of the brand of yogurt you use may favor a thicker skin for a looser consistency or thinner for thicker. After the spheres are set, carefully remove them using the slotted spoon or mesh and transfer them to the plain water to rinse off the alginate. This will halt the skin from continuing to get thicker. The goal is a thin membrane that encompasses the liquid yogurt but is not too gelled. After about a 30 second rinse, carefully transfer the yogurt spheres to a plate to hold them until the remaining yogurt has been spherified. Be careful, if they sit too long and touch they may stick to each other.
Step 4: Create the Most Delicious Art and Eat It!
Now it’s time to just be creative and play! Gently place the spheres on the plate of the honeycomb fruit gel. We found it easiest to carefully slide them right off the edge of the holding plate. Take some honey in a spoon and drizzle it around the plate, allowing some to pool in the comb. Sprinkle a few grains of bee pollen on each yogurt sphere and lastly scatter the mint around the plate.
The most delicious bite is one in which you get a little bit of everything…a yogurt sphere, a piece of gel, fruit, honey, and mint!
Now there's nothing to do in the world but Bee Happy!