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Espresso Pasta & Foam with Chocolate Sponge Cake

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This espresso and chocolate dessert combines three techniques developed by Chef Ferran Adria at el Bulli: gel pasta, foam and 40s microwave sponge cake. With the help of an iSi Whip and a paper cup, you can easily make the fluffiest sponge cake in just 40 seconds in your microwave!

As we have explained before in the "Black Sesame Sponge Cake and Miso" recipe, the secret of the el Bulli 40 second microwave sponge cake is to make an airy foam batter based on eggs using an iSi Whip and then cook it in a paper cup in a microwave. Unlike traditional cake batters, this one is mostly eggs with some sugar, the flavorful ingredient and a little flour.

40s Microwave Chocolate Sponge Cake

The espresso pasta is made using the technique invented by Ferran Adria of producing a thin film of a jellified liquid using Gellan Gum and then cutting it in stripes using a pasta cutter. This is the same technique we showcased in the "Saffron Tagliatelle of Consomme" recipe. And finally, the espresso foam is made with cream, gelatin and espresso using the iSi Whip.


Espresso Pasta

- 500 ml espresso

- 30 g muscovado sugar

- 40 ml  coffee liqueur

- 5 g gellan gum

Chocolate Sponge Cake

- 180 g dark couverture chocolate

- 3 eggs

- 1 egg yolk

- 130 g powdered sugar

- 50 g wheat flour

- 0.5 g salt

- Non-stick spray

Espresso Foam

- 325 ml espresso

- 75 g muscovado sugar

- 2 gelatin sheets

- 125 ml heavy cream


- iSi Whip Siphon 0.5 L (1 pint)

- 2 N2O charges

- 5 paper cups


Espresso Pasta

1- Add 30 g muscovado sugar and coffee liqueur to 500 ml espresso to taste.

2- Mix in the gellan gum and bring to a boil.

3- Immediately pour onto a tray in a thin layer, then leave to cool. Tilt the tray to get rid of any excess of liquid to obtain a very thin even film of about 1 mm. Do it fast or the liquid will gel before you get rid of the excess. This may require some practice but worst case scenario you may obtain a thicker film which is not so terrible.

4- Allow to gel completely in the flat tray for a few minutes.

5- Cut into 0.5 cm thick strips with a pasta cutter (roller type) to make tagliatelle. If you have patience you can also use a knife and a long ruler to help you get straight cuts.

Chocolate Sponge Cake

1- Melt the dark couverture chocolate over a water bath or in the microwave and allow to cool a little.

2- Mix the eggs and egg yolks together with the confectioner's sugar and salt.

3- Stir in the wheat flour and melted couverture chocolate. Stir to form a smooth mixture.

4- Pass the mixture through the iSi funnel & sieve directly into a 0.5 L iSi Whipper.

5- Screw on 2 iSi cream chargers and shake vigorously each time.

6- Let it rest in the fridge for at least 2 to 4 hours.

Baking the Sponge Cake

1- Prepare the paper cups by cutting 3 small slits on the base of the cups using scissors. This will allow the vapor generated while heating to escape.

Sesame Microwave Sponge Cake -cup-slits

Sesame Microwave Sponge Cake -cup-slits-2

2- Spray the cups with a light coat of non-stick spray to make it easier to release the delicate sponge cake once cooked.

3- Using the iSi Whip siphon, fill about 1/3 of the paper cup with the chocolate foam. Foam will expand significantly when cooked so don’t fill the cup!

4- Place the filled cup in the microwave and cook for 40 seconds at maximum power. You can cook 2 or 3 sponge cakes at a time.

5- Remove from microwave and let it cool at room temperature.

6- With the help of a small spatula, carefully release the sponge cake from the paper cup. Flip the cup and tap the top to release the sponge cake.

Espresso Espuma

1- Soak the gelatin in cold water.

2- Heat 100 ml (3.4 fl.oz) of espresso (to 60 °C or 140 °F)

3- Add 75 g sugar and dissolve.

4- Squeeze out the gelatin and dissolve in the warm espresso.

5- Mix 225 ml of cold espresso together with the heavy cream.

6- Add to the espresso-sugar-gelatin-mixture.

7- Pass through the iSi funnel & sieve directly into a 0.5 L iSi Whipper.

8- Screw on 1 iSi cream charger and shake vigorously.

9- Refrigerate for 1-2 hours.

Assemble and Serve

1- Arrange some espresso pasta on the plate.

2- Break up a sponge cake into irregular pieces and distribute on the plate.

3- Squeeze a couple of dollops of espresso foam on the plate.

  • Pedro Paiva

    Wonderful recipe!
    Just a couple questions if I may: since most people (ok at least me) only have one ISI whip do you sugest an order to use? I mean should we do the cake first and then do the expresso foam? I have 1 quart ISI whip so for the cake I should double the ingredients and use 4 chargers?
    And finally, gellan gum is the same as “Gelly” from the Texturas set of Adria brothers?
    All the best!

    • QuantumChef

      Yes, make the cake first and then the foam. Use 4 chargers for the 1L. And yes, Gelly is gellan gum.

      • Pedro Paiva

        You metal!

  • Sean Dixie

    A complete fail for me! I guess not using couverture chocolate? I used good quality chocolate but the consistency was so thick – no chance for the gas to get through.

    • Tara Hanratty

      I found the cake batter was very thick also, so thick in fact that it wouldn’t go through the strainer! I added about a cup of milk to it and once it strained successfully I continued on with the recipe, the results for the cake were great in the end.

      • Sean Dixie

        Thank you Tara – I’m going to give it another go!

    • Ron

      this recepie dont work i used very good chocolate 74 % couverture and temp choclate to 31 C i dont think you wrote everything from recepies maybe you dont want that other will do this i dont know but doesnt work i tried 3 times each time sponge is to hard to go out ….

  • ljd007

    Any recommendations for a gf version of the cake

  • Magic

    is it possible to make sponge cake in oven or i must use micro ??

    • QuantumChef

      This recipe is for a microwave.

      • jazzy London

        doesnt work like sean and ron said i tried also and work only with milk or cream …

  • Daniel AR

    Can you let the cake sit in the fridge over night or do you have to use it within 5-6 hours?

  • Sten Märtin

    For how long time its possible to store sponge cake ?