Masterchef’s hardest dish forces cracks to show

Well that was an exciting elimination challenge of the season.

Last night saw Billie, Ashleigh, Jessica and Matthew face the toughest pressure test of the competition so far, set by pastry mastermind Darren Purchese.

Darren revealed his version of Portuguese chef Joaquim de Sousa’s beautiful and intricate Passion Flower dessert, leaving the contestants in awe when he poured the warm sauce to make the petals drop and reveal the spectacular dome inside. Darren rated the dish a 9.9 out of 10 for difficulty. Layered inside the coconut mousse dome is a coconut sponge, a soft passionfruit centre and a sesame tuile, topped with a sugar flower. Completing the dish are tempered white chocolate and mint flavoured “petals”, a chocolate collar and a coconut, lime and vanilla sauce which creates the dramatic effect of the petals opening.

The contestants had two hours and 45 minutes (plus 10 minutes to plate up) to prepare the dish, which had 12 elements involving 31 steps. Not being a big dessert cook, Jessica knew she would need to follow the recipe to a tee. Ashleigh was in her comfort zone but things took a turn for the worse when her sesame tuiles were too thick. A second tray was the same, as was a third, before she was forced to move on.

In the race against time Ashleigh neglected to add mint oil to her tempered chocolate and had to forgo spraying her petals. Jessica became frustrated when she could not bring her tempered chocolate mix down to temperature initially and then forgot to add mint oil to her chocolate. Matthew struggled with his tempered chocolate collar and violet sugar flowers, while Billie finished all her elements and was the only contestant to spray her petals bright yellow.

The judges were impressed with Billie’s dish in the tasting, while Jessica was praised for presenting a great dish despite coming from behind as the underdog. Ashleigh’s collar was too small and her petals did not sit right, with only a couple falling when the sauce was poured. Some elements were well done but there were textures missing. While Matthew’s mousse was good and he had all the dome elements, his chocolate wasn’t tempered as well as some and the mint oil and yellow spray were missed.

It came down to Matthew and Ashleigh, who both missed the same elements. Ashleigh was sent home as her dish lacked the essential blossoming theatre.

Since leaving the competition, Ashleigh has been offered her dream job. She will be a trainee pastry chef at Om Nom under Christy Tania.

Masterchef airs 7:30 Sunday – Thursday on Ten