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Wylie Dufresne: Cookie-Covered Ice Cream Balls Made in Liquid Nitrogen

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A couple of weeks ago, I went to visit chef Wylie Dufresne at his restaurant wd~50, and he showed me his toys and the food that he makes with said toys.

Wylie Dufresne is one of the preeminent experimental chefs in America. He deconstructs the food that we're familiar with and then, using tools and ingredients that are rarely seen in restaurant kitchens, builds them back up in near-unrecognizable forms. His amazing eggs benedict, for example, features deep fried cubes of hollandaise sauce and a little cylinder of egg yolk the texture of fudge.


So I was clearly excited to see where the magic happened in his kitchen, and I wasn't disappointed. Over the course of this week I'll be posting the videos I shot during my kitchen tour, starting with how Wylie uses liquid nitrogen. In it, he shows me how he uses the stuff to create perfectly spherical balls of ice cream surrounded by chocolate cookie crumbs. Because the microphone on the Flip video camera I used is about as good as the mic on a rotary phone, a transcript of the video is below.

What's getting a lot of sway right now with urban chefs is liquid nitrogen. Liquid nitrogen, much the same way you can a use hot oil to fry things at 375 degrees, with liquid nitrogen you can freeze things at about minus 275 degrees. And you know, people get excited because it's so cold that when it's exposed to the air it turns into a gas, which is a very Hollywood or rock and roll sort of thing.

[Pastry chef Alex] takes more or less sort of a cookie, he would kill me if I said this, but not all that far off from sort of an Oreo cookie, purees it, adds some fat to it, purees it into a liquid phase. Then they take ice cream, milk flavored ice cream. They pipe the milk ice cream into a bowl of liquid nitrogen. So it gets super frozen and from there they drop it into the liquid cookie and they roll it after that in cookie crumbs. And what happens is the ice cream is so cold it instantly sets a shell, even though its in a liquid, on the outside and then they can scoop it out and roll it in some crumbs. And then you get, you know, whatever they call those Dibs or Dabs that you get at the movies. This is a much better, much more high end version.


Taste Test is our weeklong tribute to the leaps that occur when technology meets cuisine, spanning everything from the historic breakthroughs that made food tastier and safer to the Earl-Grey-friendly replicators we impatiently await in the future.