March 26, 2013

MOTOism: Baking with Charcoal Powder

by Moto

You know what’s inside your Brita filter, right? Charcoal. You know the best way to keep the fridge from smelling bad? Put a piece of charcoal in it.

Due to its purifying effects, people in Japan take powdered charcoal as a daily supplement, and some people even say it saves you from radiation. There’s no scientific proof in this, but there is hope.

So I asked my mom to send me a pack of charcoal powder so that I can incorporate it into my baking to make goth-looking stuff.

There are two types of powdered charcoals, one is made out of wood, and the other is made out of bamboo. There isn’t much difference in consistency, but wood is usually more expensive. Being from Wakayama prefecture, where bincho-tan charcoal is from, my mother found a pack of bincho-tan powder.  The smart lady sent me a big pack of it.

Yep, it looks like powdered charcoal.

Since the powder has no flavor, it is basically used to add the color black. Usually the choice for black color is squid ink or black food coloring. Squid ink adds a slight taste of the sea, and who knows what’s in black food coloring. So powdered charcoal is definitely a good alternative to add the color black into foods.

In my first experiment, I tried making a bi-colored sandwich bread. I should have sifted the charcoal in with the other dry ingredients, since adding it later during the kneading stage created a marbled pattern.

It rose perfectly.

I braided it and put it into bread pan.

I may have added too much yeast… Oh well, this was a color trial…

Done!

I like this, each slice has a different face.

Sort of brushstroke-esque and cool.

Making macarons with charcoal may be a revolutionary. When adding color to macarons, you usually add food coloring, but as you know macarons are such sensitive bitches and a little bit of oil in the food coloring sometimes screws up the entire batch. But charcoal powder seems to work pretty well, plus about 1 tbsp of the powder makes it a super dark slate color, which is very fun.

They kinda look like oreos, but a lot more effort has been put in here.

Black and white macarons are perfect as a cool gift, definitely packed in black box, with white strings.

Don’t you think?

What should I make next with the charcoal? Any suggestions are appreciated. I can totally see Grant Achatz going nuts over this stuff.

8 Comments

  • Posted March 26, 2013 at 9:54 am

    Wow! What a great idea. I think this is the first time I’ve seen anything cooked with charcoal powder. I do have some at home so maybe I’ll try! Does charcoal change the flavor profile of the macarons at all?

  • Moto
    Posted March 26, 2013 at 10:21 am

    Charcoal doesn’t change any flavor whatsoever, and I feel it makes a tad drier shells (no scientific proof, but maybe charcoal sucks moisture out better than usual?) which works pretty well when adding wet cream in between.

  • Anders
    Posted March 28, 2013 at 5:56 am

    Looks beautiful!

    How about black ice cream or anything black milk producty? Black layer cake would be slightly nasty. Or black chicken wings.

    How would it look to place white tulips in charcoal water – would they become shades of grey?

  • chungy
    Posted March 29, 2013 at 3:43 pm

    that looks amazing! at first i thought the macarons had gold dust flecks in them but was thrown off by the shiny bokeh. i’d love to see a cheesecake utilizing charcoal – could be an interesting play on black and white layering w/red or berries on top.

  • Posted June 4, 2013 at 11:00 pm

    Cool stuff. I tasted a charcoal bun today at Hinoki and the Bird in LA. They make a lobster roll with a black charcoal powder bun. It’s strange to think of black/grey colored bread, but it didn’t taste very different from white.

  • Posted March 21, 2014 at 3:53 am

    Hi, where can I buy the powder?

  • Kristin
    Posted September 17, 2014 at 12:57 pm

    Hi I just found your blog through a link from another blog that was discussing charcoal powder in baking. I was wondering if you would be willing to share your recipe for the charcoal macarons? I would love to try and make them. Thanks in advance.

  • Karen Nowak
    Posted September 23, 2014 at 10:05 am

    Since I can’t find what makes black food coloring ‘black’, I am going to try tinting royal icing with charcoal to make it black.I want to make some halloween cookies.

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