Demystifying Masterchef

My Masterchef creation - chocolate parfait, choc/almond soil, passionfruit curd and fresh passionfruit
My Masterchef creation – chocolate parfait, choc/almond soil, passionfruit curd and fresh passionfruit

This is the first series I’ve watched of Australian Masterchef and there’s one reason behind it – Reynold Poernomo.

Being a loyalist to the UK version, I’ve always struggled with the local format which is a bit over-dramatic for me.

However, Reynold’s desserts, and aspirations to become a pastry chef, have captivated me and I’ve loved watching him throw together knock-out dishes with ease.

So I wanted to do a special post in his honour!

The desserts he, and many of his fellow contestants (shout out to Georgia!), are plating up look spectacular and totally out of reach for an amateur cook.

But, I think it’s really about mastering a few techniques and then knowing how to put them together on a plate. And of course, most importantly being able to do it all in an incredible short space of time.

This is by no means to belittle their talent. It’s just to help those of us at home attempt achieving their greatness and not feel so intimidated!

How to make a crémeux

Crémeux has become the darling of pastry chefs in recent times, as it’s a great base technique from which to build a dessert. Crémeux translates to “creamy” in French so essentially you’re making a chocolate, vanilla or whatever flavour “creamy”.

It’s really half-mousse, half-sauce and described by Michel Suas as a crème Anglaise-style custard thickened with butter and sometimes gelatin.

Michel’s process involves:

  • Prepare a basic crème Anglaise
  • Bloom the gelatin in water
  • Have the butter at room temperature
  • After the custard is cooked, add the gelatin and stir to incorporate. Strain into a clean, dry container, and cool over an ice bath.
  • If using chocolate, add while the custard base is still hot and form an emulsion.
  • When the mixture reaches 30-35C, add the soft butter.
  • Pour into moulds or shells to set.

Reynold’s crémeux recipe (using crème patisserie as a base).

How to make a biscuit crumb/soil

Biscuit crumbs and soils look impressive but they’re actually very easy to make. You’re essentially making a basic biscuit using flour, butter and sugar and then blitzing it in a food processor once it’s baked and cool.

You can add almond meal for extra flavour and texture, cocoa if you want chocolate soil, or food dye if you want coloured soil.

Georgia’s soil recipe

How to make a curd

Curds are another dessert element that can be easily adapted and combined with other ingredients. Any citrus will work – lime, lemon, passionfruit.

Simply combine citrus zest, citrus juice, eggs (including extra yolks), sugar and butter in a bowl then heat over a saucepan. You’ll need to keep an eye on it and whisk constantly to ensure it thickens but doesn’t burn.

My curd recipe

How to make a parfait

A parfait is a frozen dessert made from sugar syrup, egg and cream. It pops up a fair bit on Masterchef because it is quick and easy to make upfront, and then can be placed in the freezer and forgotten about until plating up.

Billie’s parfait recipe

Other “how tos”:

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