A kitchen escapade can be an experience from heaven or hell, depending on who’s wearing the apron. As Chef Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares and Master Chef reality shows roll out season after season of delicious, do-it-yourself, mouth-watering goodies, Nida and I got wondering whether we could master some of these challenging creations with the same flair and panache. And why not? It’s all there on Google: the recipes, the ingredients, the methods and sometimes even a YouTube video to catch the inadvertent slip up.
But as we set out to master the masters’ techniques, what is it we discovered?
Mastering a Master Chef dessert – piece of cake is NOT!
We vowed nonetheless to labour on until we got (at least some of) it right. Our (selfless) labours in the kitchen are meant to help you discern between the recipes that even the not-so-kitchen-savvy damsels can deliver the way they are done onscreen, from the ones that will be trips into hell’s kitchen. In this series, we will challenge ourselves to recreate decadent desserts featured online, onscreen or by celebrity chefs to as-near-perfection as our imperfect kitchen skills allow. So you can decide if you would like to follow suit.
So come join us as we show you how it’s done.
Or maybe not.
“If music be the food of love, play on, give me excess of it.”
Did Shakespeare really never experience the dark, luscious, rich, silky smooth, divine man-made creation, food of the Gods, and true food of Love? The one and only food that can tame into submission, inspire a state of physical and mental ecstasy, and simultaneously awaken and numb the senses … yes, I speak of you, chocolate, I speak of you. And to you. And I speak in the language of Love, which knows no language as heavenly as this delicious offering.
You throw so many of us into a state of rhapsody; a state that is so elevated that merely a fleeting whiff or taste is enough to engage a choir of beautifully orchestrated love notes, that spills from the lips of the beloved.
Okay so we might be exaggerating just a teeny tiny bit. But we had to in this, in the very first of our Kitchen Adventures – Or Call Them What You May.
The first recipe we tried was The Molten Chocolate Cake from Saveur.
Saveur turned out to be a kitchen disaster – the cakes flopped – literally flopped, as the truffles oozed chocolate, cut through the sides too soon and burnt the entire offering into what would have been perfectly finished molten cakes on TV. Ours ended up burnt black, in a smoked-up kitchen, and a lingering of chocolate that definitely did not smell good enough to eat!
Lesson #1 – Patience is a virtue and baking is all about patience.
The truffle needed time to set. Since it was not completely set and we rushed the process to the next step, we ended up with a truffle that spilt out of the cake too soon, and got burnt. So if you want to follow this recipe, a suggestion would be to make the truffles the night before, or go with pre-made truffles from the market, if you’re pressed for time! Whatever the case, this recipe should not be rushed!
We substituted dark rum in the recipe with coffee.
Which didn’t work too well.
We suggest leaving it out altogether if you don’t take rum in your cakes.
We also felt the recipe was a bit vague. Truffle time in fridge should have been mentioned.
Lesson #2: Burnt chocolate leaves a lingering smell. A long-lasting lingering smell.
So – never burn chocolate in your home.
Lesson #3: If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again.
And so we did.
A recipe version that worked for us: Food and Wine Molten Chocolate Cake.
We learnt through our experience above that understated and simple recipes work out better. The batter can be refrigerated a day ahead of baking, and none of the cakes cracked on us. Plus, this one has no alcohol.
2 out of 5 on Difficulty Level (Easy to Make)
4 out of 5 on Mind-Blowing Flavour (If you prefer dark chocolate, or else you definitely need some whipped cream or ice cream to cut the rich darkness of the chocolate)
4 out of 5 on Wow-Factor Look (Definitely a high 4, the moulds came out super easy)
What Our Creation Looked Like:
Below are pictures for you to see how we did it!
Taste test: It was very rich, very heavy, extremely decadent, and almost bitter. But Nida’s 7-year-old gave it two thumbs-up!
- Valhrona substitute: Lindt 70%
- If you don’t like it too dark, and prefer a sweeter flavor, then go for 50% – 60% Lindt preferably, or Hersheys Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips.
- Serve with whipped cream and raspberries, raspberry sauce and /or passion fruit.
- Add icing sugar for presentation.
So, send us a kitchen challenge from one of your favourite Master Chefs at info@ fuchsia.com.sg if you want us to try to match the chefs and tell you what works and what doesn’t.
Nida Anis Ahmed did her masters in management from University of Surrey and is currently residing in Basel with her two kids. She has also worked for the United Nations Development Programme in Pakistan. She and her family love to travel, experience different cultures and food. She finds baking extremely therapeutic and loves to try new recipes.
Shazia likes to pen her thoughts when she feels passionately about a life experience, a person or an event. She is mother to 3 lively boys and along with her husband, attempts to settle in her new country by taking German lessons so she is able to soak in the culture, language and spirit of the region.