Anyone who watched the 2014 season of MasterChef Australia will have seen the Chocolate Ethereal, the stunning, intricate dessert created by Peter Gilmour of Quay. The two finalists had to recreate this dish as their last challenge (in 3 hours mind you!!) to decide who would be crowned the new Masterchef!
I had the absolute pleasure of trying this dish, when my two best friends surprised me with dinner at Quay. It really tasted better than it looked. Each shard not only looked spectacular, but gave a different textural element and flavour to the dish. The Oloroso cream that held the spikes up was literally to die for and other small touches such as the nougat and alcohol soaked muscatels only added and lifted this already spectacular dish.
My Mum and I who both like a challenge, decided that we would recreate this dessert, especially as it used no fancy equipment. We finally got around to it this weekend (the recipe can be found here).
We calculated that it took us 7 hours (or 14 man hours) to complete!! And it was definitely the most work I have ever put in for a dessert – or possibly any one meal! And while it definitely didn’t look as pretty as the real thing, it worked brilliantly and exceeded my expectations – it honestly tasted like the real thing!
The nougat recipe was fantastic – it was soft and chewy, what a good nougat should be but rarely is. Again the Oloroso Whip is seriously to die for – it should honestly be illegal it’s that good!!
Mum and I had to make a few changes to account for ingredients we couldn’t find because they were a bit unusual. I just wanted to tell you a bit more about the changes we made so you can spend 7 hours recreating it if you wanted!
Korean Starch Sheets
So these were impossible to find, but I’m not going to lie, what we substituted for these was inspired!! We used rice paper sheets, cut to size. As rice paper is derived from rice, a starch, these were in fact a brilliant substitute. We then soaked them in warm water for 20 seconds so they softened and then followed the rest of the instructions.
Hazelnut Praline Paste
So for this element, we made our own hazelnut praline paste and honestly this stuff was amazing! It tasted like an intense nutella and we now use it as a topping for ice-cream! Yum! The recipe for this can be found here. The recipe is so simple and involves just hazelnuts, sugar and water. Once you have made the praline you just blend it, it will initial form a powder, but keep blending long enough and all the oils will come out of the hazelnuts and you will get a delightful paste that will keep in the fridge for ages!
The recipe calls for a number of different (and expensive!!) types of chocolate like Valrhona and Amedei Chuao chocolate. We substituted for other brands of good quality cooking chocolate, trying to make sure the chocolate we used was similar in terms of cocoa solids. So for example, the recipe calls for 70% Amedei Chuao chocolate, so we used 70% Lindt Cooking chocolate.
We used plain honey as a substitute for trimoline and while it gave the pulled chocolate sheet a slight honey flavour the sheet still worked well and there is nothing wrong with chocolate and honey! 🙂
Silpats are a silicone sheet that is used a lot in professional kitchens. We substituted baking paper, which worked perfectly well.
There is also a slight error in the recipe online. Step 32 seems to be a copy of 31, however it follows the same same process as the pulled chocolate, so skip back to Step 29 when you get to 32.
Finally, be prepared for the fact that the quantities you make will far exceed what is required for serving 4 people – but this just means you can have seconds OR more the next day!
This dessert is nothing short of phenomenal and while I am so glad I made it and that it truly did work, I wont be making it for some time! So much respect for the chefs who make this ever day and I am totally amazed that one person could recreate this in 3 hours! Wow!