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Godiva Chocolate Challenge 2015: The Final

Godiva Chocolate Challenge 2015: The Final

by Mecca Ibrahim 16 October 2015

We round up the exciting and chocolate-filled final of the 2015 Godiva Chocolate Challenge, aiming to find the best chocolate dessert recipe in the UK.

This year’s entrants had already been whittled down to a shortlist of ten, with the four actual finalists announced last week. We were particularly delighted that one of our bloggers, Rosana McPhee, was one of these lucky four, with her recipe for a Chocolate nut torte with cherry meringue ice cream going through to the final cook-off at the ALNO kitchen showrooms in London’s West End on Tuesday 13th October.

In support of Breast Cancer Now and held, fittingly, during London Chocolate Week, the four finalists re-created their entries in front of the formidable judging panel of chef Mark Hix, Godiva’s Chocolatier, Jean Apostolou, celebrity chef and food writer, Gizzi Erskine and MasterChef: The Professionals judge and food writer, William Sitwell. All of the judges spent time with the finalists giving them valuable hints and tips as they were cooking and putting those all-important finishing touches to their creations.

Although their aprons may have resembled a rather chocolatey Jackson Pollock artwork, the finalists looked very much in control during the cook-off. They took time out to chat to friends and guests, who dealt with the tense environment by sipping Balfour BRUT rosé and snacking on strawberries dipped in Godiva chocolate. We also got to sample Godiva’s new and delicious range of meringue mousse chocolates, which has been created in support of Breast Cancer Now, with 10% of all future British sales of this collection going to the charity.

Gizzi Erskine, who was new this year to the judging panel, commented: ‘It’s been very hard to choose, but it’s been kind of interesting, that everyone came with very different ideas to the one brief which was to use meringue, a touch of pink and naturally to include chocolate. Nothing was the same. On the one hand that made it easier to judge but on the other, very, very hard.’

Gizzi quizzing the contestants
Rosana with her finished dessert

She began with a critique of Joseph Fallowfield’s dessert: ‘Your dish was absolutely stunning. It was picture perfect with a really great use of meringue. You used it twice in terms of having your Italian meringue and your French meringue and the flavours were fantastic. You got everything you wanted from it. Our only minor, minor problem was the density of the chocolate base – if you had made it lighter and gone for a chocolate mousse rather than a ganache, it would have been so much easier to eat and we could have devoured one and been left wanting more. But still, technically fantastic.’

Judge Jean Apostolou was up next and commented on Anoop Singh’s dessert: ‘I have told you already, that you have a long future in baking macarons, as the macaron base of your dessert was really fantastic. What we have here is a great construction as well, which looks good. You certainly know how to construct a dessert. Keep doing what you do and congratulations.’

William Sitwell was also full of praise for all of the finalists and said ‘It’s no easy task cooking with chocolate and tempering chocolate. Anyone who has seen all of the four dishes would not have believed that the brief was exactly the same.’ Turning to Rosana he said ‘I want to come to Brazil, as if this is what you are cooking over there, it’s absolutely wonderful. This is a lovely chocolate cake, although we wanted it to be a little bit lighter. I just wanted a little more cream and a little more meringue, but you are a great cook and you’ve done fantastically well to get this far and who knows you could still win this.’

Mark Hix, who was also on last year’s judging panel and would be having the winning dessert featured on his menu at HIX Soho restaurant, comment on the tough brief for this year’s challenge: ‘The use of meringue and chocolate together involves two different skills. The first skill is getting the maximum flavour from the chocolate and then it’s also making the perfect light meringue which in itself can be tricky. You can have crumbly meringue, you can have chewy meringue, and to get that spot on is a true skill in itself.’

Joseph's dessert with a great use of meringue
Anoop's perfect macaron base

When William Sitwell announced Heather Bennett’s dish as this year’s winner, it was clearly a firm favourite with cheers throughout the kitchen – a pretty astonishing feat as she also lifted the trophy at last year’s event, and the shortlist was judged blind this year. William said, ‘Heather’s dish was the most original in design. It was certainly the most arresting visually and the two different meringues she made were very good.’

Jean Apostolou acknowledged that ‘the fact that Heather was crowned winner of the Godiva Chocolate Challenge again reconfirms her superb skill at combining different flavours and textures. It is this that set her apart from the other finalists. Heather’s dessert was very accomplished indeed and I am looking forward to welcoming her to our Godiva kitchens [a part of her prize] later this year.’

Heather herself was over the moon: ‘I am super honoured to have been selected again as the Godiva Chocolate Challenge winner. This year was harder as there were more criteria to meet, but I had a fairly good idea of what I wanted to do. I would heartily recommend entering to anyone with a love of chocolate and cooking.’

Now Heather will win a luxury weekend in Brussels including a visit to Godiva’s Centre of Innovation. She will also see her dessert featured on the menu at HIX Soho – initially the dish will be on the menu for just a week but Mark was happy to consider a longer term place, ‘It’s a great dessert in the lead up to Christmas and if it proves popular with the customers it will stay on longer.’

Heather is announced as the winner
Heather's winning dessert

Her dish was inspired by the classic French Concorde, like its namesake and Godiva itself, it’s a symbol of luxury. Chocolate meringue with some ‘touches of pink’ from freeze-dried raspberries surrounded layers of raspberry meringue, milk chocolate mousse, caramelised almonds and a delicate rose cream. Even though it looks intricate, it’s easily scalable for Mark Hix’s commercial kitchen production without compromising the presentation or flavour.

A big congratulations and big thanks go to Heather, Joseph, Anoop and Rosana for being such relaxed, delightful, and creative finalists. Thanks also to Godiva, for running the challenge during Chocolate Week when the nation is truly focussed on this wonderful ingredient. We look forward to inviting you to join in the event next year and take part in what is now set to be a sought after event in every chocolate-lover’s calendar.

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Godiva Chocolate Challenge 2015: The Final


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