Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Godiva Chocolate Challenge - The Finals!

And no, I wasn't in the Finals! I did, however, attend the event as press, representing Fabric Magazine (you can read my article here). As I arrived, the four finalists were beavering away (since 2pm apparently) with their creations, looking relatively calm and in control. The Boffi Kitchen showroom, where the event was held seemed a rather appropriate venue - luxurious and contemporary.

 Godiva Chocolates tasked the finalists with creating 'a chocolate dessert whose presentation, creativity and texture reflects the craftsmanship and excellence of Godiva'. My own Citrus Chocolate Cups didn't make the shortlist, but when you see what did, you will see why!

Heather, the winner, with Victoria, Danny and Natasha
  Danny's Candied Bacon & Chocolate Tartlet with Pork Scratching Snap, Heather's A Conference of Chocolate, Victoria's Chocolate Praline Mousse Cake, and Natasha's Praline Mousse Coeur

Heather Bennett is a budding chocolatier who works full time in the City. Her winning recipe, A Conference of Chocolate was "inspired by Godiva’s use of the finest quality ingredients and by Mark Hix’s love of British seasonal produce. Kent Pears and locally sourced honey combined with dark chocolate, compliments the dish that like Godiva’s namesake, needs no frills and laces. It is easily scalable for commercial kitchen production with no compromise to presentation or flavours."

The other three, no less inspired, finalists' recipes could also easily have won the competition, based on their presentation alone. Danny Kingston is a renowned food blogger (Food Urchin) whose love of chocolate started with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at a young age and his creation Candied Bacon and Chocolate Tartlet with Pork Scratching Snap was certainly daring to be different with the salty sweet addition of something salty you would expect for breakfast, rather than dessert.

Victoria Glass made a Chocolate Praline Mousse Cake which was elegant and luxurious with layers of flavour coated with chopped hazelnuts. Victoria was slightly panicked at one point as the failure of the freezers to work in this beautiful-but-maybe-not-so-functional showroom meant her mousse wasn't setting. She pulled it all together though just in time and this bunny ear-topped mousse cake was just the right balance between mousse and cake, according to William Sitwell.

Natasha Cohen (Tashcakes) was accompanied by her very proud parents, and was happy to chat while she worked on (my favourite) heart shaped chocolate mousse cake. She made five of these beautifully tempered cakes, and was happy for me and Vikki from @ChefMag to taste test some of the caramelized hazelnuts. We chatted together afterwards and Natasha is a genuine star, with modesty and talent in abundance, and I'm sure this will lead to great things for her, and for all of the contestants. Incidently, she mentioned she liked the look of my recipe, and it's on her 'to try' list! Woohoo! And in return I'm going to attempt hers...

Caramelized hazelnuts... mmmm.

Meantime, Vikki (@ChefMag) and I sampled the delightful chocolate covered strawberries...




...spied on the judges judging...



...admired the displays around the showroom...


...scoffed numerous delicious canapés... goat's cheese with balsamic jelly, beef carpaccio with truffle oil...


...Salmon curls with creme fraiche blinis...
...Miso black cod... 
...Tuna with soy and ginger on chopsticks...;

The finalists were finally given their de-briefing before Mark Hix announced Heather as the winner.

We could finally taste one of Thierry's exclusive creations, a rich luxurious chocolate mousse topped with pomegranate 'caviar', and dip into the four desserts, and roll our own truffles...

 
Chocolate Mousse with Pomegranite Caviar
And of course, check out our own tweets on the big screen!



Well done to all four finalists, particularly Heather, who must be absolutely thrilled to see her recipe on the dessert menu at Hix Selfridges! And a big thank you to Godiva Chocolates for a fantastic evening.