Earlier this year I was following the Junior Masterchef Australia series on TV and I couldn't believe what I was seeing. The final 12 contestants were nine to 12 years old, each exceptionally talented and intelligent chefs who were also the sweetest people ever. They were genuinely excited for each other when one nailed an advanced recipe (nearly everyone one of them did, repeatedly) and I actually got teary watching as they hugged the victor with ear to ear smiles. No egos or insecurities, simply pure joy for doing their craft, peers and mentors proud. Those who think society is doomed because of teenage wastrels just need to stop paying attention to the tabloid news and watching 16 and Pregnant. The future is bright. And tasty.
One of the last challenges was to pull off an ambitious pastry called Pear Perfection, created by chef Adriano Zumbo to truly put their skills and intuition to the test. The two remaining competitors, Jack and Isabella, were intimidated by this complicated dessert, and rightly so. Zumbo gave them a brief lesson in crucial things to watch for so it didn't fall flat and then they were on their own.
There are seven separate elements in this highly textured pastry:
- Sable a Choux (the green crackly stuff on the outside, if you wondered)
- Pear Vanilla Creme Patissiere
- Pear Gel
- Green Chocolate Squares
- Pear Mousse
- Green Marzipan
- Almond Crunch
Not only did they both create a brilliant dessert, Jack was awarded an 11 out of 10 by most of the judges, because they thought his was better than that of the chef who created it! And after tasting it, Zumbo concurred, which you can see in the video below. Imagine?! And this was his first time. Isabella received 10s across the board - Pear Perfection indeed.
Fancy a try? You can see the full list of ingredients and the recipe at the Masterchef Australia website. I'd love to have a go myself and am fully prepared to have to eat a gooey green mess when it's all over, or a cripsy mess. I don't have a chance, our oven is the worst.
This segment from Australian TV shows us clips from the Pear Perfection challenge and a view behind the scenes as it addresses the issue of where new child stars Jack and Isabella (Isabella had the most overall points in the end) might be headed. I think they'll be just fine.
And here's how Pear Perfection looks on the inside, this is Adriano Zumbo's original creation as photographed by Cavanaugh Photography (they have others as well!):