Ever Wonder How Chefs Get Their Food to Look So Good?
Pros share their tricks for beautiful lattes, straight-edged brownies, perfect hors d'oeuvres and other drop-dead gorgeous dishes.
By Lynn Andriani
Museum-Worthy Latte Foam Art
Humberto Ricardo, one of the owners of Third Rail Coffee in New York, says the key to creating designs out of foamed milk—tulips, hearts and leaves—lies in how you steam the milk. At his shop, baristas carefully control how they introduce air into the milk. If you have a cappuccino machine with a frother, you can do it too. First, put the frother's tip near the top of the milk and let the milk expand to the level you want it (this should take just a few seconds). Then immerse it more deeply, creating a whirlpool. When you're finished, the milk should be shiny and slightly thick, with tiny, uniform bubbles (imagine the consistency of paint or the mini bubbles you'd find in melted marshmallows). Next, pour a thin stream of milk into the espresso so it breaks through the coffee's crema layer (the reddish-brown froth on top of the espresso). Once you have a clean, brown surface devoid of stray specks of milk, move the pitcher side to side, starting at the 12 o'clock position, so the foamed milk zigs and zags across the crema. To create a heart, draw the pitcher's stream across the center of the cup and away from you in a straight line; that will pull in the foam nearest to you, forming the shape.
Mike Jones, a barista at Third Rail Coffee, demonstrates in the video below: