A friend of mine made something a few months ago that blew my mind. It’s called Rum Caviar, and it’s barely sweetened rum in the form of little golden spheres, just like fish eggs:
They stay like that until you eat them, and then they melt deliciously in your mouth with all that rum flavor. Absolutely fantastic, and so fun! They’re like a much more adult and sophisticated version of Vodka Gummy Bears!
I’ve been begging my friend ever since to make these again sometime so I could post the instructions here, and he finally got a chance to do it, so here you go!
Rum Caviar instructions
- Vegetable oil
- Dark rum
- Brown sugar
- Agar-agar powder (which can be found in Asian markets, or the ethnic section of some grocery stores, or you can just buy it from Amazon)
- A tall, narrow drinking glass
- An eye dropper – or this specialized caviar maker that’s made for molecular gastronomy
Obviously, how much you need depends on how big a batch you want to make. This recipe is for two drinks’ worth of Rum Caviar and used: 3/4 cup dark rum, 2 grams agar-agar powder, 1/4 cup brown sugar and about 20 ounces of vegetable oil.
For a bigger batch, he recommends buying: a 4 oz bag of agar-agar, a 750 ml bottle of dark rum, sugar and a bag or box sugar and a 32 oz jug of vegetable oil – scale the ingredients to the batch size you want.
Note that the vegetable oil can be re-used: just chill it in between batches, and filter it if it gets goopy. He also recommends using a kitchen scale with gram measurements to be sure you get the measurements just right.
Starting rum caviar
Fill your tall, narrow glass with vegetable oil. The taller your glass is, the better, because this is what the hot rum mixture needs to travel through to cool off and solidify.
If the glass is too short, the spheres may join at the bottom and you’ll have one giant lump of rum jelly. Place the glass of oil in the freezer and chill for 30 minutes.
When 30 minutes is up, stir 3/4 cup dark rum and 2 grams agar-agar powder in a saucepan on high heat until it begins to boil. Quickly add 1/4 cup brown sugar, stir to dissolve sugar, bring back to a boil, and remove from heat.
The sugar is important because it adds density to the rum and makes it sink in the oil. Without it, your rum would float at the top and make little half-spheres.
Let the rum mixture sit for about 2 minutes and remove the vegetable oil from the freezer.
Suck up the rum mixture in an eye dropper and squeeze little drops of the mixture into the cold oil, making sure to keep your hand moving at all times to prevent one big ball from forming at the bottom. That is, don’t put every drop right into the middle of your oil’s surface.
As the rum collects into spheres, it will become heavy and drop through the oil, cool off, and lay waiting for you to scoop it up from the bottom. Work quickly because the rum will solidify in the saucepan.
If this does happen, you can melt it again on low heat, being sure to stir constantly, and continue the spherification process.
Once you’re finished, either scoop the balls out with a small slotted spoon or pour through a mesh sieve or cheesecloth to collect the spheres from the oil. Drop them in cold water for a few seconds to wash the oil off and you’re ready to go.
Optional: if you’re making a lot of this and don’t want to go to the hassle of making little balls, you can just let the mixture cool and solidify in the sauce pan, then put it through a food processor. It comes out looking like little shards of glass, which is also really cool-looking.
The flavor, and uses
Rum Caviar has a milder flavor than liquid rum and hardly any sweetness from the brown sugar. You can use this:
- In cocktails that call for rum. Because the rum caviar has a little sugar and agar-agar weighing it down, and a little of the rum burns off in the cooking, use a 1.5 to 1 ratio. That is, if a cocktail calls for 1 ounce of rum, try 1 1/2 ounces of rum caviar.
- As a drink itself – it’s a wonderful treat all by itself, served with a spoon.
- Put it over ice cream and bananas.
- As a way to serve eggnog to drinking and non-drinking guests, a problem for many hosts and hostesses around the holidays – just make a batch of no-alcohol eggnog, and spoon in some of the Rum Caviar for your drinking guests. People will still be talking about it next year!
- Served in a bowl with a spoon. Served this way, it captures the feel of caviar – or dessert.
- How to store: in an airtight container, in the fridge, with a few tablespoons of water at the bottom.
- How long they’ll keep: we estimate at least several weeks, based on the ingredients and their shelf life, but have not tested this (both times he made them, they got consumed within 72 hours).
Rum Caviar is a fun molecular gastronomy treat. It tastes just like rum, but the beads pop in your mouth like fish eggs.
- Fill your tall, narrow glass with vegetable oil.
- Place the glass of oil in the freezer and chill for 30 minutes.
- Stir 3/4 cup dark rum and 2 grams agar-agar powder in a saucepan on high heat until it begins to boil.
- Quickly add 1/4 cup brown sugar, stir to dissolve sugar, bring back to a boil, and remove from heat.
- Let the rum mixture sit for about 2 minutes and remove the vegetable oil from the freezer.
- Suck up the rum mixture in an eye dropper and squeeze little drops of the mixture into the cold oil.
- Once you're finished, either scoop the balls out with a small slotted spoon or pour through a mesh sieve or cheesecloth to collect the spheres from the oil.
- Drop them in cold water for a few seconds to wash the oil off and you're ready to go.