Saturday, October 17, 2009

Reproducing Foods

Every so often I find some irresistably scrumptious item available exclusively at some restaurant nearby. Recently this happened with the "mocha blender" at Einstein Bros. Bagels and I found myself more or less addicted. Such a habit can become expensive quickly, so I sought to reproduce it at home. The last time this happened was with a smoothie from Jamba Juice, which was easy to reproduce almost exactly given that they put all the ingredients together right in front of you. However, this was going to be a bit of a challenge, because the ingredients as put together in view consisted of ice, Hershey's chocolate syrup, and some liquid poured from a generic carton. My less than trained gustatory instinct pointed to most of the desirability being from the texture, unusually velvety for a smoothie--closer to a milkshake, which it definitely isn't. The obvious next step was to seek nutritional information, which I found after a quick google. Unfortunately, due to poor pdf formatting, some portion of the ingredients for the liquid of interest, "cappucinno base," were cut off, but my suspicions were nonetheless confirmed as there were several thickening agents visible: carageenan, guar gum, and locust bean gum. The use of whey protein probably also plays an important part in the final experience, otherwise it seems to be sweeteners, stabilizers, and the ubiquitous, impossibly ambiguous "natural flavors." As far as these flavors go, I don't think they have much if anything to do with espresso.

Given that I don't have easy access to any of these commercial thickeners, I had to improvise with powdered sugar for its corn starch content. Here's what I've come up with so far, texture-wise it seems pretty close:

8-10 oz. whole milk
Equal part or more ice (a lot).
Espresso to taste
Hershey's chocolate syrup to taste (probably about 2 Tbsp)
1/2 scoop whey protein
2 Tbsp powdered sugar
1 Tbsp granular sugar

This is the result of only my second attempt, so there's probably improvements that can be made. I think the most promising avenue is the addition of some salt to drop the freezing point of the mixture. The flavor is still way off, but the only thing I can think to make it closer is just removing the espresso altogether.

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