27 May 2008

Milk Foam 101

Partly why I'm addicted to cappuccinos is mainly because of the milk foam. Up until now, I haven't been able to replicate it at home. I have a milk plunger, but not a steam nozzle on my nonexistent espresso machine. The foam I was making was in no way similar to what I got at a cafe (the only similarity being milk); clearly, I was making a mistake.

From the Runner's World forums (not the Not Runner's World forums), a forumite told me about a book I should check out, On Science and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen by Harold McGee. One day after running, I was looking through the book and reading the milk section. Much to my pleasure, the topic of milk foam was thoroughly discussed.
According to the book, some milks are better suited to foaming due to the whey proteins, which are the critical stabilizers. Therefore, milks with added protein (reduced-fat and skim milks) are the easiest to foam. Whole milk, however, has a fuller texture and flavor. I only have whole milk right now, so I can confidently say that it does work and you can get a decent amount of foam; no need to go out and buy a $4 gallon of 1% just to make milk foam!

Keys to Foaming Milk
From On Science and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen by Harold McGee

To foam a small volume of milk without steam, separate the foaming and heating steps:

  • Pour cold, fresh milk into a jar, tighten the lid, and shake it vigorously for 20 seconds (I'd say about 30-35 seconds for whole milk), or until the contents have doubled in volume. (Or froth in a plunger-style coffee maker, whose fine screen produces an especially thick, creamy foam.)

  • The stabilize the foam: remove the lid, place the jar i the microwave, and heat on high for about 30 seconds, or until the foam rises to the top of the jar.

Here's what it looks like with pictures:

Pour cold milk into the glass. I used whole milk.

I didn't have my watch on, so I ended up plunging for 30-35 seconds instead of 20 seconds, but I noticed that I had a slightly larger volume of foam. (With 1% milk, 20 seconds is what I was doing and got a good volume.)

As you can see, the contents have doubled in volume.

This is how the foam looks before it has been heated.

And this is how the foam looks after being heated. It's very stable and firm compared to the previous picture, and it looks

Foam of epic proportions!

Spoon however much of the foam you want. I typically use it ALL!


On another note, I now have the name of my dad's very kind customer (thanks, Dad!). That means I will be blogging about Mrs. Cederholm's cookies.

To clear something up, after I just now paid attention to the name of the cookies, Lazarus Chocolate Chunk Cookies, I realized this recipe is similar to the Neiman Marcus cookies. I even Googled "Lazarus Chocolate Chunk Cookies" and the recipe popped up. See, this is what I thought when I read the recipe, but this is what happens when I don't pay attention to the name of the cookies. My apologies for getting everyone hyped up!


  1. Thanks for the excellent milk frothing tips! I appreciate it

  2. OMGS!! this thing is amazing!! i want it so bad! haha thank you for sharing this product. you made a caffeine addicts day!



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