Commercial Hardware and Techniques (part 7) - Cooking with Cold: Liquid Nitrogen and Dry Ice - Cocoa-Goldschläger Ice Cream

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3.2. Making dusts

One of the classic “silly things you can do with liquid nitrogen” tricks is to freeze a leaf or a rose and then whack it against something to shatter it. Unlike traditional methods of freezing, liquid nitrogen freezes the water in the plant so quickly that the ice crystals do not have time to aggregate into crystals large enough to pierce the cell walls and destroy the tissue, meaning the leaf or flower won’t wilt when thawed.

In culinary applications, you can use this same property to create “dust” from plant material. Lavender flowers, for example, can be rapidly frozen, crushed with a mortar and pestle (which needs to be chilled in a freezer to keep the frozen plant material from thawing), and then allowed to thaw back out. Some chefs have frozen larger items—beets, for example—causing them to shatter in an organic pattern that couldn’t be obtained with a knife.

3.3. Making ice cream

The standard formula for LN2 ice cream goes something like this: cream + flavoring + liquid nitrogen + whisking / mixing = 30-second ice cream.

While you can make ice cream with a small quantity of alcohol using traditional methods, those versions have only a mild flavor brought by the alcohols, which are used more as extracts or flavorings than as actual components of the body. With liquid nitrogen, however, you can make a scoop of ice cream with an entire shot of alcohol. Calories are no longer the biggest problem with this type of ice cream; hangovers are.

As with anything you make with liquid nitrogen that’s served cold, check to make sure that it’s not too cold before serving it. An IR thermometer is a handy tool for this. Spot-check your ice cream, and if it’s too cold, let it warm up to normal freezer temperature.

Cocoa-Goldschläger Ice Cream

In the metal bowl of a stand mixer, mix:

1 cup (256g) milk

1 cup (240g) heavy cream

¾ cup (180g) Goldschläger (cinnamon liqueur)

¼ cup (80g) chocolate syrup

½ cup (80g) bittersweet chocolate, melted

2 tablespoons (25g) sugar

½ teaspoon (1g) salt

½ teaspoon (1g) cinnamon

Taste the mixture to check the balance (try not to drink it all at this point), and adjust accordingly. Once frozen, the mixture will not taste as strong, so an overly strong mixture is desirable.

Turn your stand mixer on and (carefully! with goggles and gloves!) slowly pour in liquid nitrogen. I find it takes about a 1:1 ratio of mixture to liquid nitrogen to set the ice cream. If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can also do this in a metal bowl and stir with a whisk or wooden spoon.


  • To melt the chocolate, microwave the milk and then add the chocolate to the hot milk. Let it rest for a minute, so the chocolate warms up, and then mix to combine. You can nuke the chocolate directly as well, but I find it easier and less likely to burn doing it this way.

Playing with Dry Ice

Dry ice—solid carbon dioxide—is easier to work with than liquid nitrogen. For one thing, it’s solid, so you don’t need specialized equipment to handle it. A Styrofoam cooler or even a cardboard box is sufficient. And secondly, it’s much more readily available. Just make sure to ask for food-grade dry ice!

A few words of warning: like liquid nitrogen, dry ice expands into a much larger volume as it sublimates. Do not store dry ice in a sealed container. Also, dry ice and ethanol form a wet slurry that is very dangerous. It’s not cold enough to generate the Leidenfrost effect, the phenomenon where a liquid generates a vapor barrier around a much-hotter item. Dry ice and ethanol can wick through clothing and stick to skin.

Besides sticking a chunk of dry ice in a cup of coffee and pretending not to notice while drinking from it (the chunk will sink to the bottom), what else can you do?

Quick-freeze berries. Industry lingo for this is IQF (individually quick frozen), in which large blast freezers rapidly freeze individual peas, raspberries, and chicken breasts. You can toss some dry ice in a Styrofoam cooler and mix in a roughly equal amount of berries or veggies, wait until the dry ice has sublimated away, and then bag ’em and stick them in the freezer.

Make ice cream. Works just like liquid nitrogen, only alcoholic flavors probably won’t set quite as nicely. Take your food-grade dry ice, place it between two towels, and give it a few whacks with something like a rubber mallet or the back of a frying pan to create a powder. Whisk the powder into the ice cream base until set.


As with LN2 ice cream, it’ll take a little less dry ice if you start with a base already at freezing temperatures.

Create “fizzy fruit.” Drop some grapes, bananas, strawberries—really, any moist fruit—into a pressure cooker, toss in some dry ice, and slap on the lid. As the dry ice sublimates, the chamber of the pressure cooker will hold the carbon dioxide (and bleed off any over-pressure amount), and the fruit will absorb some CO2. Wait 20 to 30 minutes, release the pressure, pop off the lid, and munch away.

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