Making the Black Death Macaroons that sent two Masterchefs home

I was delighted and horrified by the wicked dessert that David Higgs presented for the five contestants to replicate in last Wednesday’s pressure test on MasterChef SA.

The dish was beautiful. I loved the complementary black and white colours and the flavours of liquorice and litchi. It was painful, though, watching people that I have grown very close to struggle with a slightly sketchy recipe and only two hours within which to recreate it.

Full of empathy and bravado, I decided to attempt it myself. Because I don’t have an ice cream machine and neither does my masochistic streak extend that far, I ignored the time constraints.

Here’s a link to the recipe: Liquorice Macaroon with Litchi Panna Cotta, Lichi Sorbet and Black Crumble

Here’s the result:

Liqurice and Litchi Dessert of Death

Not too shabby, I suppose. David himself remarked on Twitter (@David_Higgs) that it looked good enough to eat. I’ll take that as high praise.

What a mission it was though! I’m very glad that I wasn’t in that pressure test.

Will I be silly enough to try any of the other challenges coming up? We’ll have to wait and see.

My stab at David Higgs' dessert

JIA-Emptiness-Dinner-Plate
The JIA Emptiness dinner plate was kindly supplied by entrepo Hyde Park. Tel. 087 150 5369
entrepo
R 279.95

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

 
Magimix-LeGlacier
I wish I had one of these. I had to churn the sorbet by hand in a bowl over ice and salt. Old skool.

Magimix
Le Glacier Turbine Ice Cream Maker
yuppiechef
R 6 960

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

You’ll also need a stand mixer (Kenwood, Kitchen Aid), silicone macaron baking sheet (Silpat, Tescoma, Sweetly Does It), piping bag, whipping siphon with NO2 chargers (iSi, Ibili), isomalt and black gel colouring. These last two are available at good baking shops.

Happy baking!?

P.S. (2013/07/30) The liquorice and white chocolate ganache filling for the macaroons is the most delicious thing ever. It’s seriously addictive. Be warned.

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Salmon Mi Cuit

Talk about a pressure test! I invited the series director and head of content of MasterChef SA for dinner last night.

After bubbles on the deck (thanks guys), we settled down to a four-course dinner skipping helter-skelter over that rustic/refined line.

The prize for the most photogenic dish of the evening goes to (drum roll please)… Salmon Mi Cuit. This consisted of a piece of half cooked (that’s what mi cuit means) salmon, a ginger and ponzu fluid gel, radishes pickled in rice vinegar, wasabi aioli and salmon roe. The dish is inspired by sashimi and salmon roses.

Salmon Mi Cuit

I unabashedly adore ChefSteps. I’ve made their 104F Salmon dish a few times, but this time decided to make it my own. I followed the technique for Salmon Mi Cuit (http://www.chefsteps.com/activities/salmon-mi-cuit), which renders the most delicious and succulent salmon imaginable, and dressed it with a few garnishes to invoke that sushi vibe.

What on earth is a fluid gel?

I recently saw a HarvardX lecture on iTunesU in which Dave Arnold – a total rock star by the way – makes and explains a fluid gel. He explains: “Fluid gels have the properties of both a fluid and a gel. Agar fluid gels can look like hair gel on the plate but feel like a smooth, creamy sauce in the mouth.” http://www.cookingissues.com/primers/hydrocolloids-primer/

I decided to put this to the test. I whizzed up some sushi ginger, fresh ginger, ponzu sauce and about 0.8% agar-agar. Heated it to the boil and filtered it through an Aeropress. (Couldn’t find my muslin, works a treat.) I let the gel cool and set, and then blended it. Voila! Fluid gel. The soy in the ponzu with the particular texture of a fluid gel gives it that lovely silkiness and deep flavour of a good jus.

To complete the sushi effect I made a wasabi aioli and added some salmon roe. I loved the idea of making a modernist dish and having real ‘caviar’ on the plate instead of something spherified.

Equipment required:
Sous Vide circulator or bath or thermometer
Immersion blender
Blender

Difficulty: moderate

Salmon Mi Cuit close up

Some handy products for this dish

AeroPress

AeroPress Coffee Maker
yuppiechef
R495

 
Finding good coffee when travelling is an expensive and sometimes impossible task. The Aeropress is a wonderful travelling companion. I also found it great at straining liquids quickly and effectively.