I used to love when my mom would buy Reddi-Whip when I was a kid; it was such a fun treat to eat right out of the can. It wasn’t until I grew up and went to culinary school that I started to whip my own cream by hand when I needed a dollop to top off a dessert. All it takes is a little elbow grease and a large whisk!. Fresh whipped cream is so light and airy and delectable. Once I made it to restaurants, I was introduced to cream siphons. If you are not familiar, they are just another culinary gadget that any cook will tell you is way better than the grocery store whipped cream canisters!
These siphons are super easy to use. All you need to do is pour cold heavy cream in the canister up to the fill line, screw on the lid, then twist on a cream charger. Once you hear the gas escape, you want to shake the canister vigorously a few times and you are ready to use. Just pull the trigger and the whipped cream will disperse onto whatever you fancy. Of course, you may add flavorings and sweetener but that is just how easy it is!
What most people don’t know about are the many other uses for this handy culinary tool. I like using the cream siphon for all dairy-based items when I want to lighten them up and make them fluffier. For example, one of my favorite uses is aerating cream-based dips. By aerating these dips, they are not as heavy and make for a great appetizer or even a sauce on top of meats and vegetables.
Beer and Cheese Dip
Yield: 4 servings as an appetizer
Active time: 20 minutes
Start to finish: 1 hour
1/2 onion, diced
3 Tablespoons butter
3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup Pilsner beer
1 cup milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Sauté diced onion until tender.
2. Whisk in the flour to make a roux and cook, whisking constantly, for about 2 minutes. Add the nutmeg and cook 1 minute more.
3. Gradually whisk in the beer. Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook on low heat for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Pour in the milk and cream while whisking. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook until thickened.
4. Season the béchamel with salt and pepper and spices to taste. Remove from heat and stir in the cheese until melted.
5. Strain through a sieve and pour the dip into the siphon and charge with a cream charger. Shake vigorously.
6. Let the cheese mixture cool slightly before dispersing into dipping bowl for a sturdier foam.
7. Serve with pretzels, brats, or crudité.
Any kind of meltable cheese can work in this application. Another one of my faves is reducing cream down and adding grated Parmesan to make a Parmesan foam! Just remember that there are two different kinds of chargers and siphons out there on the market. I used a cream charger which is No2. The nitrous oxide provides the gas to turn the cream into a foam by creating air bubbles. This is not to be confused with soda chargers where Co2 is used to carbonate liquid ingredients.
For dairy based batters like waffles or pancakes, you will want to use a cream charger. When you aerate a dairy-based batter the effect is amazing. You get lots of bubbles, a light moist texture and the end result is in general less dense.
Yield: 2 dozen pancakes
Active time: 30 minutes
Start to finish: 45 minutes
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups buttermilk
1/2 stick butter, melted
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
Additional butter for cooking the pancakes
1. Preheat the oven to 200°
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
3. In a separate, medium-size bowl whisk together the eggs and the buttermilk.
4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until just combined. Stir in the melted butter and strain through a sieve.
5. Pour batter into a siphon, attach a cream charger and shake.
These are normal pancakes.
6. Heat a griddle over medium heat and lightly brush with butter. Siphon the batter directly onto the griddle about a 1/4 cup, and cook until the tops are bubbly and the edges are lightly browned.
These are the siphoned pancakes.
7. Flip the pancakes and continue to cook until they are cooked through in the center, about 1 additional minute.
8. Transfer the pancakes to a plate, cover with foil and keep warm while making the remaining pancakes.
9. Serve with maple syrup.
You can use the canisters interchangeably with the different chargers. For this next recipe, I used a soda charger since the batter isn’t that thick and doesn’t have a dairy base. By aerating the batter, you get a super light crispiness that encases the vegetables. You can use this technique with tempura batters, beer batters, or any batter that has a liquid base. Feel free to use different veggies and if you have leftover batter, you can keep it refrigerated for 2 days.
Yield: 4 serving as an appetizer
Active time: 30 minutes
Start to finish: 30 minutes
Oil for frying
8oz. cremini or button mushrooms, stemmed
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 cups Ebel’s Weiss wheat ale
1. Heat the oil in a heavy pot until it reads 365° on a deep-fry thermometer. Have ready a sheet tray lined with paper towels.
2. To make the batter, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder. Whisk in the beer until just combined. Strain through a sieve.
3. Pour the smooth batter into an isi canister and load with a soda charger. Siphon some of the batter into a bowl and toss the mushrooms in to coat.
4. Carefully lower them into the oil. Fry just 6 or 7 at a time to prevent overcrowding the pan. Fry the mushrooms until they are golden brown and crisp, 5 to 6 minutes.
5. Using a skimmer, remove the mushrooms from the oil and allow to drain on the paper towel-lined sheet tray. Fry the remaining mushrooms.
Can you tell the difference between regular battered (left) and siphon battered (right)? The siphon batter got super crunchy and evenly coated the shrooms, both are delicious but the latter is definitely worth the extra effort, in my opinion.
Some helpful tips I have learned along the way is to strain any lumps you may encounter from dips or batters, they will gunk up the siphon and will not come out of the tip properly. Also, using stabilizers like lecithin will help the foam be more long lasting and not deflate so quickly. The thicker the initial base is the more chargers it usually takes to make the foam light and puffy. Lastly, colder ingredients will aerate better than warm or hot ingredients. I find using stabilizers with hot foams makes them work better.
Hopefully you have gotten inspired to get your hands on an isi canister of your own. There are so many possibilities for what you can use it for, like these delicious funnel cakes. Come on in to the store and ask an associate about them anytime!