Life Eat & Drink Gulp! Can you make Heston’s epic MasterChef dessert?
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Gulp! Can you make Heston’s epic MasterChef dessert?

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Billie wrangling the sugar ball.
Billie wrangling the sugar ball.

With 120 ingredients and 66 steps, Heston Blumenthal’s ‘Botrytis Cinerea’ isn’t just a dessert – it’s a scientific experiment.

Judge Gary Mehigan called Blumenthal’s masterpiece “the toughest dish ever”, with even Blumenthal himself admitting it had broken seasoned chefs before.

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“To get it right, it normally takes about two months,” the chef admitted.

MasterChef winner Billie McKay managed to complete the mammoth task in just five hours, with only a couple of missteps along the way.

In particular, the 24-year-old struggled to craft a perfect “sugar ball”, breaking down in tears as she pumped air into a fragile golden clump under a heat lamp.

“That sugar ball was just about as frustrating to watch as it was to make!” McKay told The New Daily of re-watching the tense moment on Monday night.

“Especially as I’m heading over to the UK to join’s Heston’s team I’d love to give it another go. Maybe it won’t take me five hours second time around?!”

The restaurant manager from Bowraville said she’s preparing to make the move to Bray with her boyfriend Hadyn in a couple of months to take up Blumenthal’s coveted job offer.

In the meantime, you can put your own culinary skills to the test by recreating the Botrytis Cinerea in your own kitchen.

Here’s the 2800-word recipe. You’re going to need trehalose. Yeah – we’re not sure what that is either.

Ingredients

Soaked Sultana

  • 50g sultanas
  • 25g botrytis semillion

Fenugreek syrup

  • 75g fructose
  • 125g water
  • 0.5g tartaric acid
  • 12g fenugreek seeds, crushed

Saffron vanilla syrup

  • 85g fructose
  • 125g water
  • 1 & 1/2 vanilla beans, scraped
  • 0.1g saffron
  • 1g malic acid

Infused pear balls

  • 1 pear
  • Saffron vanilla syrup
  • Fenugreek syrup

Aerated saffron grape juice

  • 500g green grapes
  • 0.5g saffron
  • 100g trehalose
  • 1.4g whey protein
  • 6g egg white powder

Citrus reduction

  • 100g blood orange puree
  • 100g mandarin puree
  • 100g pink grapefruit puree
  • 50g lemon puree

Citrus sorbet

  • 30g pink grapefruit segments, juice from segmenting reserved
  • 210g orange segments, juice from segmenting reserved
  • 20g lemon segments, juice from segmenting reserved
  • 15g lime segments, juice from segmenting reserved
  • 20g citrus reduction
  • 25g fructose
  • 17.5g trimoline
  • 2.5g vodka
  • 75g natural yoghurt

Frozen grapes

  • 250g black muscat grapes
  • 4.5g gelatine powder
  • 100g citrus juice from segmentation for sorbet
  • 20g fructose
  • 1g minus 8 icewine vinegar

Peach wine gum

  • 330g creme de peche
  • 24g gelatine powder
  • 120g glucose
  • 75g Billington
  • 2.25g tartaric acid
  • 135g botrytis semillion
  • Canola spray

Grape fluid gel

  • 900g white grape juice
  • 9g gellan F
  • 150g minus 8 icewine vinegar
  • 60g orange muscat wine
  • Grapeseed oil crumble
  • 180g flour
  • 180g corn starch
  • 90g icing sugar
  • 120g grapeseed oil
  • 60g unsalted butter, melted
The evil genius himself unveils the complicated dish.
The evil genius himself unveils the complicated dish.

Churros stalks

  • 200g water
  • 26g grape seed oil plus more for brushing
  • 38g caster sugar
  • 2g salt
  • 100g 00 flour
  • 100g Billington unrefined golden caster sugar
  • 0.5g fenugreek powder

Pear caramel filling

  • 108g glucose
  • 144g caster sugar
  • 36g butter, slightly salted
  • 120g thickened cream, warmed
  • 180g peeled pear
  • 5g malic acid

Crystallised chocolate

  • 150g water
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 120g Valrhona Ivoire white chocolate
  • 8g Valrhona Guanaja

Roquefort powder

  • 100g roquefort cheese, roughly chopped
  • 60g Valrhona Ivoire white chocolate
  • 120g tapioca malto dextrin

Vanilla salt

  • 1 pre-scraped vanilla bean
  • 50g sea salt

Soil

  • 100g crystallised chocolate
  • 10g roquefort powder
  • 8g parmesan
  • 100g grape seed oil crumble
  • 5g vanilla salt

Citrus cream

  • 400g Greek yoghurt
  • 50g citrus reduction
  • 20g icing sugar
  • 1g orange blossom water

Chocolate balls

  • 49g cocoa butter
  • 0.5g green colouring powder
  • 0.4g yellow colouring powder
  • 0.1g red colouring powder plus extra for red spray
  • 500g Valrhona Ivoire white chocolate
  • 50g coloured cocoa butter
  • 25g paillette feuilletine
  • 25g popping candy
  • 30ml kirsch
  • Apricot filled grape
  • 100g apricot puree
  • 80g golden caster sugar
  • 1.2g yellow pectin
  • 10g glucose syrup
  • 2g Amaretto liqueur
  • 1.2g malic acid
  • Dried grapes

Leaf – green grape paste

  • 300g green grapes, washed
  • 50g isomalt
  • 12.5g glucose
  • 2g gellan F
  • 0.25g malic acid
  • 0.01g salt

Leaf – purple grape paste

  • 300g black muscat grapes, washed
  • 50g isomalt
  • 12.5g glucose
  • 2g gellan F
  • 0.25g malic acid
  • 0.01g salt

Grape sugar bubble and spiral

  • 54g water
  • 70g glucose
  • 200g isomalt
  • 1g citric acid
  • 6.4g kirsch
  • 0.08g strawberry red colouring powder
  • 3g yolk yellow colouring powder
  • 0.10g pistachio green colouring powder
Heston watches Billie assemble the dish.
Heston watches Billie assemble the dish.

Method

Soaked Sultana

  1. Place sultanas and botrytis semillion in a sous vide bag. Seal and set aside for 1 week.

Fenugreek Syrup

  1. Place all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Transfer to a sous vide bag, seal and set aside to infuse for 48 hours.

Saffron Vanilla Syrup

  1. Place all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Transfer to a sous vide bag, seal and set aside to infuse for 24 hours.

Infused Pear Balls

  1. Peel pear and using melon ballers, shape the pear into smaller and larger round balls.
  2. Place smaller balls in a sous vide bag and add saffron vanilla syrup. Seal bag removing as much air as possible and set aside.
  3. Place larger pear balls in a sous vide bag and add fenugreek syrup. Seal bag removing as much air as possible and set aside.

Aerated Saffron Grape Juice

  1. Place grape juice in a mixing bowl and add the trehalose, whey protein and egg white powder on the top. Whisk together by hand and then whisk using mixing machine at speed 4 for 2 minutes, 3 for 20 minutes and speed 1 for 3 minutes.
  2. Pipe the mixture onto a silpat mat, in round shapes, and set aside in the 80°C dehydrator.

Citrus Reduction

  1. Place all ingredients in a saucepan and set over high heat. Whisk together and allow to boil until reduced by half. Set aside.

Citrus Sorbet

  1. Place all the citrus segments in a thermomix and process at maximum speed for 3 minutes to make juice. Pass through a fine chinois.
  2. Measure 100 grams strained juice into a saucepan. Add citrus reduction, fructose, and trimoline and set over low heat. Allow to warm until sugars melt. Remove from heat, add another 100 grams juice and stir to combine. Cool mixture over an ice bath. Add vodka and yoghurt to the cooled mixture and whisk to combine. Transfer mixture to an ice cream machine and churn the mixture until frozen. Set aside in freezer.

Frozen Grapes

  1. Place grapes in thermomix and process at maximum speed for 5 minutes. Strain and place 20 grams grape puree in a saucepan. Sprinkle over 2 grams gelatine powder and allow to soak for 5 minutes. Add remaining grape puree and set over low heat until gelatine has dissolved. Place the grape jelly mixture in the 32 hole rubber sphere moulds and freeze in the blast chiller.
  2. Meanwhile, strain juice from segmenting citrus, measure 100 grams and place in a saucepan. Sprinkle over remaining 2.5 grams gelatine. Allow gelatine to soak for 5 minutes. Set over low heat and heat until gelatine has dissolved. Add fructose and minus 8 ice wine vinegar and whisk to combine. Remove from heat and set aside to cool to 30C.
  3. Unmould the frozen grapes and stick bamboo skewer in just until it holds. Dip the frozen grapes into the cooled jelly and place in a polystyrene stand. Set aside in the freezer with skewer still inserted.

Peach Wine Gum

  1. Place 165 grams crème de peche and gelatine in a sous vide bag and seal. Place in the 55C water bath and allow to dissolve. Meanwhile, place remaining 165 grams crème de peche, glucose, sugar, and tartaric acid in a pan and cook over medium heat to 108°C. Remove from heat and cool down to 90°C. Remove crème de peche and gelatine mixture from the water bath and add to the mixture, stirring well. Add botrytis semllion and mix well.
  2. Spray the 20 hole rubber sphere mould well with canola spray. Fill mould with the mixture using a syringe. Set aside in the freezer.
  3. Unmould peach wine gum balls and place in the freezer.

Grape Fluid Gel

  1. Place an empty tray in the fridge to cool. Mix the grape juice and gellan F together in a thermomix and bring up to 100°C. Transfer to the cold tray and place in the fridge to set. Once set, transfer to a thermomix and blitz. Add the minus 8 ice wine vinegar and muscat and blitz to until a smooth texture. Transfer mixture to a sous vide bag and seal to remove all air bubbles. Transfer to a piping bag and set aside in the fridge.
Billie serves up the finished product.
Billie serves up the finished product.

Grapeseed Oil Crumble

  1. Place the flour, corn flour and icing sugar in a bowl and mix together. Add grapeseed oil and melted butter to the mixture and make a crumble like texture. Transfer to a tray and place in the 120C oven to bake for 1 hour. Remove from oven and set aside.

Churros Stalks

  1. Place the water, oil, sugar and salt in a pan. Bring it to a boil, immediately take off the heat, sieve the flour in, in 3 batches, mixing well after each addition. Transfer to a piping bag (2mm hole). Allow to cool until cool enough to handle.
  2. Lay stalk guide sheet on a baking tray and cover with a sheet of baking paper. Pipe the dough onto baking paper, following the stalk shape and pressing joins together. Place in 180C oven to cook for 2 minutes. Brush grapeseed oil on the dough, making sure to completely cover. Continue to cook, turning the tray, as necessary, until an even golden colour, about 12 more minutes. Remove from oven.
  3. Combine the sugar and fenugreek powder in a bowl. Add churros stalks to the bowl and sprinkle over the sugar. Set churros stalks aside in the sugar.

Pear Caramel Filling

  1. Using a thermomix blitz the pear with the malic acid at maximum speed for 8 minutes to make a purée. Pass through a fine chinois.
  2. Meanwhile, melt the glucose in a pan and add sugar. Cook until a very light caramel colour and temperature reaches 170°C. Remove from heat and gradually add warm cream and pear purée, stirring to combine. Add the butter and cook to 105°C. Set aside.

Crystallised Chocolate

  1. Place the water and sugar in a pan and heat to 150C. Meanwhile, melt both chocolates and mix. Gradually add the melted chocolate mixture into the sugar syrup and using a whisk stir well. Transfer to a paper lined tray and set aside to cool.

Roquefort Powder

  1. Place chocolate and roquefort cheese in a bowl and place over a pot of gently simmering water to melt, stirring frequently. Place tapioca malto dextrin in a bowl. Slowly pour melted chocolate mixture into the malto dextrin, while constantly whisking, until well combined and a powder forms. Set 10 grams aside for making soil and remaining aside for plating.

Vanilla Salt

  1. Place scraped vanilla bean in the dehydrator for 24 hours. Transfer to a spice grinder and grind until smooth. Add salt and grind just until combined. Set aside.

Soil

  1. Mix all of the ingredients together to make a fine crumble and set aside in an airtight container.

Citrus Cream

  1. Place yogurt in a muslin lined sieve and place over a bowl. Allow to stand at least 2 hours to separate. Discard whey.
  2. Place 200g hung yogurt, citrus reduction, icing sugar and orange blossom water in a bowl and stir to combine. Set aside in the fridge.

Chocolate Balls

  1. Place cocoa butter in a plastic bowl and melt, using bursts in the microwave. Add the green, yellow and red colouring and stir to combine. Add 350 grams white chocolate and place in the microwave in bursts, stirring each time, until chocolate has melted. Add remaining 150 grams chocolate, a little at a time, while constantly stirring until completely incorporated and temperature reaches 30 C.
  2. Pour tempered chocolate over half sphere mould. Move mould around to coat and tap to remove air bubbles. Tip out excess chocolate and wipe off excess chocolate from top of mould. Place in the freezer.
  3. Meanwhile, mix feulletine and popping candy together. Remove chocolate half spheres from the freezer and unmould. Fill a half sphere with the feulletine mixture. Warm a baking tray and hold another empty half sphere onto it, just to warm. Stick the warmed half sphere and the filled half sphere together, rubbing seam gently to remove, to form a ball.
  4. Combine kirsch and red colouring to make red spray. Transfer to a small spray bottle and spray the ball very lightly from a distance, and set aside in an airtight container.

Apricot Filled Grape

  1. Place apricot puree and glucose in a saucepan and set over medium heat. Mix sugar and pectin and add to saucepan and continue heating to 107C. Remove from heat, add Amaretto and pour into a tray and place in the fridge until set.
  2. Transfer set apricot gel to the thermomix and process until smooth. Transfer to a piping bag.
  3. Meanwhile, open dried grapes and remove seeds. Pipe some apricot puree into the dried grapes and set aside.

Leaf – Green Grape Paste

  1. Blitz grapes in thermomix for 30 seconds. Strain through a fine chinois.
  2. Blitz isomalt in thermomix to a fine powder. Add 100 grams of strained grape juice and remaining ingredients and blitz to 100C. Set aside

Leaf – Purple Grape Paste

  1. Blitz grapes in thermomix for 30 seconds. Strain through a fine chinois.
  2. Blitz isomalt in thermomix to a fine powder. Add 100 grams of strained grape juice and remaining ingredients and blitz to 100C. Set aside

Leaf

  1. Using a leaf stencil, spread the green leaf paste onto a silpat mat and dry at 70C in the dehydrator for 3 hours.
  2. Brush purple grape paste on the half dried green leaf and return to the dehydrator for 48 hours.
  3. To make the leaf, place grape paste leaf onto the indented side of the leaf stamp and hold under the sugar lamp to warm. Press other side of leaf stamp on top of leaf to shape leaf. Repeat to give one big and one small leaf. Set leaves aside in an airtight container.

Grape Sugar Bubble and Spiral

  1. Place water, glucose and isomalt in a saucepan and set over medium heat. Cook to 140C, add citric acid, kirsch and colouring and whisk to combine. Continue heating to 165C. Remove from heat and pour into a silpat lined tray.
  2. Once cool enough to handle, put on 2 pairs latex gloves, followed by safety gloves covered with another pair latex gloves. Wear safety goggles.
  3. Work sugar by continually pulling, folding over and pressing sugar until it is an even golden colour and very shiny. Re-warm sugar in 5 second bursts in the microwave if it becomes too cold to work with.
  4. To make the spiral, re-warm and pull sugar as necessary to become golden and shiny once more. Working under the heat lamp pull a little sugar away from the lump and twist around a wooden dowel a couple of times to create a spiral. Let spiral set for a second then slide off dowel. Twist and shape spiral, break off from the sugar lump, leaving a straight piece at the end of the spiral and give a final twist so that the spiral will stand straight. Set spiral aside in an airtight container.
  5. To make the sugar bubble, place sugar under the lamp to keep warm. It will turn a little brown as it cools. Pull a 4-5 gram piece from the lump and cut it off with scissors. Rework piece by pulling and folding until it becomes really shiny once again. Shape into a flat, square shape.
  6. Heat the copper rod of the sugar pump with a blow torch until too hot to touch. Fold the sugar piece over the end of the pump, leaving a gap between the piece and the end of the pump. The piece should stick to the pump. If it does not stick the pump end is too cold and needs further heating. Press the piece around its base to seal onto the pump end forming a ball.
  7. Using one hand gently press pump to inflate ball while at the same time slowly spin the pump end with the other hand and press up from the base of the ball with the thumb to create a perfect sphere. Heat a knife with a blow torch and use hot knife to cut ball from pump end. Set ball aside in an airtight container.

To Serve

  1. Using the leaf stencil placed in the centre of the serving plate spread some citrus cream. Sprinkle cream with soil then remove stencil.
  2. Make a small hole with a hot knife in the top of the chocolate ball and pipe in some pear caramel. Add to the plate.
  3. Add a churros stalk to the plate.
  4. Add a soaked sultana to the plate.
  5. Add both pear balls to the plate.
  6. Dip apricot filled grape in roquefort powder and add to the plate.
  7. Add aerated saffron gel to the plate.
  8. Add sugar spiral to the plate.
  9. Gently break top off sugar ball and fill with citrus cream. Add to the plate.
  10. Sprinkle with roquefort powder.
  11. Add leaves, one big and one small, to the plate.
  12. Pipe the fluid gel on the plate in a tear drop shape and run a skewer through it to create the shape
  13. Dip frozen grape into liquid nitrogen, remove bamboo skewer and add to the plate.
  14. Add the wine ball on top of the frozen grape.
  15. Add a rocher of sorbet to the plate.

Recipe courtesy of Network Ten.

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