MasterChef: the Finalists
It’s fair to say I like a cheeky drink with my food, a splash of brandy on my crêpes, a glug of white in my risotto or a bottle of lager in my batter. Desserts are no exception. In fact, they’re possibly the one area of the kitchen where you can be most experimental with a tipple. This dessert is certainly extravagant and you might want to save it for a special occasion, but rest assured if you go all out to buy a good-quality champagne it will make all the difference to the finished dish. Champagne is the drink for celebrating, whether to introduce a toast or to see in the New Year. The MasterChef competition has been one of the most turbulent and exhausting yet rewarding and fun experiences of my life. This dish was inspired by my desire to go out with a bang and to celebrate what would – at the very least – be a wonderful and memorable chapter of my life.
You Will Need
For the pannacotta. Soak the gelatine in a small bowl of cold water for 5 minutes or until softened. Meanwhile, heat the milk, cream, sugar and vanilla pod in a heavy-based saucepan to simmering point. Remove from the heat. Put the white chocolate and coconut milk in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of simmering water to melt. Remove the bowl from the heat. Strain the milk and cream mixture over the chocolate mix. Squeeze the gelatine leaves to remove excess water, then add to the mixture and whisk until melted. Divide among four 100ml ramekins. Place in the fridge to set for at least 2 hours.
For the syrup. Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to the boil, then reduce for 5 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve into a jug.
For the fruits. Pour a quarter of the syrup into a clean saucepan and heat gently. Add the strawberries and cook for 1 minute, then transfer the strawberries and syrup to a container with a lid. Repeat this process with the mango and kiwi. Add the pineapple
to the last of the syrup and cook for 10 minutes, then place in a container. Leave the fruits to macerate in their syrups until needed.
For the coconut macaroons. Preheat the oven to 150°C/Gas Mark 2. Line a flat baking tray with baking parchment. Whisk the egg white in a clean bowl until soft peaks will form. Gradually whisk in the sugar, whisking to stiff peaks. Fold in the coconut in two batches. Spoon the macaroon mixture into a piping bag fitted with a plain nozzle and pipe small mounds about 2.5cm in size on to the baking tray. Bake for 10 minutes. Allow to cool
on the baking tray.
To serve. Drain the fruits, reserving the syrup. Using a cook’s blowtorch, briefly warm the sides of each ramekin, then gently ease out the pannacotta on to a serving plate. Arrange the fruits around the pannacotta and set the macaroons in and around the fruits. Drizzle the syrup over the fruits and finish the pannacotta with a sprinkling of toasted coconut. Garnish with sprigs of basil.