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January 09, 2007

Blog math: Susur's spice meringue cod + Moto = Froot Loops crème brûlée

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Actually, the full formula is: 2/3 Susur's spice meringue black cod + Moto = Froot Loops crème brûlée + 2 * Caesar salad.

What the hell am I babbling about, and where do I get the balls to link two chefs as accomplished as Susur Lee and Homaro Cantu with candy masquerading as kids' cereal?

In a recent post, I described the marinated black cod baked in spice salt meringue recipe Rachel and I prepared from Susur: A Culinary Life.  The recipe calls for baking the cod in a meringue dome made from two and a half cups of egg whites.  That's a lot of egg whites -- I stopped after collecting one and three quarter cups of egg white from a dozen eggs.  That's when I had to figure out what to do with all those yolks.

I'm a man buffeted by fixations great and small, most of which involve my appetite.  After writing a post about our meal at one of Chicago's temples to molecular gastronomy, Moto, I often found myself mentally revisiting Cantu's dish of jalapeno, avocado, and lemon myrtle.  What did I love so much about this combination?  Why, its "inescapable essence of Froot Loops," of course.  (Now there's a sentence you don't read often, let alone as a quote.)  I wanted, nay, had, to experiment with that flavour.

I suppose I should be more specific. What I really adore isn't Froot Loops per se, it's actually Froot Loops milk.  Ahhh, the lemony-sweet reward at the bottom of every bowl of cereal.  As a child, I learned there was a zen-like balance to consuming a bowl of Froot Loops.  I wanted to eat the cereal as fast as possible so I could drink that delicious milk, but the path to ambrosia requires the patience to allow the cereal's flavour to steep into the milk in the first place.

For weeks I'd pondered how best to harness that taste.  Ice cream, macarons, and crème brûlée all suggested themselves.  At their heart, ice cream, crème brûlée, and Froot Loops milk are fundamentally the same thing: an infusion.  Viewed this way, they differ only by degree.  Having already played with ice cream (and having all those egg yolks), I decided to follow my nose and attempt Froot Loops crème brûlée.

I thought this dish would be simple.  Since Froot Loops are all the same sweet-citrus flavour, I thought my job would be little more than selecting a colour -- green, by the way -- infusing it into my custard, then baking it off in a bain marie.  I am a fool.

I first realized my plan might not be coming together when, after giving the Froot Loops a full twenty-four hours to infuse into my custard mixture, the loops themselves were still firm.  Now, I have no doubt that our friends at Kellogg's use additives in their cereal to retard sogginess, but this cereal was still al dente.  On the upside, as good as Froot Loops are in milk, they get even better in a mixture of egg yolks, whipping cream, sugar, and vanilla extract.  I guess this is my awkward way of admitting my friend and I ate every last drowned loop we could find.  Mmmm... part of this complete breakfast.

The real test of any dish is not in the preparation, of course, it's in the final product.  Let's just say Froot Loops crème brûlée needs work.  It's not that the flavour was bad, it's that there just wasn't enough of it.  The pale green custard tasted slightly sweet and lemony, but it was subtle, and that's not what I was hoping for.  I wanted to elevate those citrus notes while letting the custard substitute for the backbone that the milk provides in a regular bowl of cereal. I had visions of bold; I got bland.

I'd like to try this dish again, because there are two obvious changes I can make that should improve its flavour.  First, and this is obvious, use more Froot Loops. Second, rather than just steeping the cereal in the custard mix, next time I'll take it a step further and purée and strain them, much like I did with my sticky toffee pudding ice cream.

Oh, well.  Sometimes you do the culinary math, and the numbers just don't work out (I'm looking at you, vanilla mucus).  If you paid close attention to the blog math formula, you may have noticed that it includes more than just spiced meringue cod, Moto, and Froot Loops crème brûlée.  The last part of the formula uses the four remaining egg yolks in two of our sublime Caesar salads.

And that's the bottom line.

Froot Loops Crème Brûlée

This is an adaptation of my standard crème brûlée recipe, which produces a creamy custard heavy on real vanilla flavour.  I don't recommend this version, but feel free to try and improve upon it.  If you do, please let me know.

Yield: 6

Crème Brûlée

750 ml whipping cream
1 tbsp vanilla extract
140 g egg yolks (approximately 8 egg yolks)
110 g sugar (approximately 1/2 cup)
180 g Froot Loops (of the same colour)
dash of salt

Directions:

Crème Brûlée
Heat cream until the mixture reaches 88C/190F, just below a simmer. Don't let this mixture boil.

In a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or with an electric mixer or a whisk), whip egg yolks, vanilla extract, sugar and salt until pale and thick. With mixer on low speed, very slowly pour the hot cream mixture into the egg mixture, stopping to scrape down the sides occasionally.

Add Froot Loops and chill completely, at least 24 hours. B
rûlée mix can be made up to 2 days in advance.

Preheat oven to 135C/275 F.  Position a rack in the middle of the oven, and another in the top.  Place a cookie sheet on the top rack directly below the upper broiler.  This is to prevent any direct heat from the upper broiler overcooking the tops of the b
rûlées.

Place 6, 180ml/6oz ramekins (or flatter brulee dishes) in a pan with at least an 3.8cm/1.5 inch lip.  Strain the b
rûlée mix (Do not throw away the Froot Loops!  Go on, eat them, you know you want to.) into the ramekins, this should minimize the amount of bubbles that form on top of the custard. Carefully pour hot tap water around cups to come at least halfway up the ramekins.  Note: Be very careful moving the brulees to the oven, as getting water in them is bad.  One possible solution is to open the oven door, slide out the middle rack and place the brûlée pan on it, then add the water to the pan.

Bake b
rûlées until the custard reaches an internal temperature of 72C/161C, or until the edges no longer jiggle when tapped, but the centre still jiggles slightly, approximately 60-75 minutes. Remove from water bath, let come to room temperature, and then chill for at least 3 hours before serving.

To serve, heat broiler. Sprinkle tops of custards with sugar and broil for 1 minute, or use a butane kitchen torch.

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Comments

Jill

Rob - you are crazy/awesome. And I now have a massive craving for Froot Loops.

Anita

Rob,
I love how your mind works! Froot Loops was indeed one of the best "flavorers" of milk in my childhood. Love the photo!

gudipudi

sounds great and yummy


cheers
gudipudi

gudipudi

are there any further improvements in the item

cheers
gudipudi
-------------------------
www.educationtrak.com

James Van Dyk

I'm alway's getting fruit loops when I work with Keffer Lime Leaves

James Van Dyk

I'm alway's getting fruit loops when I work with Keffer Lime Leaves

Brilynn

You crack me up!

hungry girl

hilarious. froot loops.

how about something with cocoa puffs? (my personal fav).

Bron

I can't say I've ever had a fruit loop, I was such a deprived child, hehe.
Lovely to see you back posting!

J

hi rob, trust you to boldly venture forth where the rest of us would just be content to dream about...i can't wait for your post on froot loops: the sequel!

rob

Jill, I'm glad I stoked your Froot Loops fire. Just follow your nose!

Thanks, Anita. The photos not my favourite -- I love the splash of colour from the cereal, but the image itself seems a little dim to me.

gudipudi, there are not yet any improvements. I need to take some time away before returning to this dish (man, that sounds too serious for anything made with breakfast cereal).

James, I'm glad you mentioned kaffir lime leaves, because I've noticed it too. What I really want is to get my hands on some lemon myrtle. I'm assuming that was the ingredient that gave the Moto dish is distinctive flavour.

Thanks, Brilynn.

hungry girl, I have to admit the Cocoa Puffs were never my cereal as a kid, so it's not a taste I'm familiar with nor really sure how to use. Got any ideas?

Bron, is the absence of Froot Loops in your life a product of their unavailability in New Zealand, or was it just a tragic oversight? Thank you, by the way, it's wonderful to be posting again.

J, if I do a Froot Loops sequel, I want your help. Think we can tackle Froot Loops macarons?

McAuliflower

Wonderful!

happy childhood finding its way back to the surface of our adult flavors.

Nigel Bose

1. Use real vanilla.
2. Add sugar to cream and make sure to stir often as this will ensure the sugar and vanilla is properly incorporated into the cream.
3. While the cream is coming to a boil have your eggs beaten and ready for the cream.
4. Don't be a pussy, use a whisk to combine the cream and eggs.
5. Reserve the spent vanilla pods in a container of sugar; now you have vanilla sugar and no need for extract.

Ellie

Hehehe, I'm very familiar with the dilemma of using up unloved egg yolks, and since I don't own an ice cream machine, custard seems to be the way to go! Have never thought of trying to infuse a breakfast cereal though...I'm glad that it still tasted great!

Cathie

Just have to try this out - I'll try blending the soaked mix, and maybe add some Kaffir lime leaves or lemon myrtle. They're my partner's absolute favourite cereal, and I'd love to serve him this for his birthday!

Gaipsyday

Make peace, not war!

Avi

I just noticed the Kaffir Lime-Fruity Pebbles sisterhood the other day while eating a kaffir lime dessert risotto thing. A surprising lunchtime discovery.

james

why not steep the fruit loops in the hot cream before you add it to the egg mixture, like bring the cream to a boil, and add the fruit loops and make sure they are under the cream, and then cover the pot with a layer of plastic wrap and allow the cereal to really soak into the hot cream for a while, then puree it and put it througha chinoix and then bring it up to whatever temp you want for the recipe, i see slightly less thana boil in the recipe, and continue the brulee as usual...should get a more complete fruit loops flavor

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