Dark Chocolate, Blackberries and Rhubarb Dessert

Words: Crush

Reliance CompostChef-Mike-camphors
We recently took a wander around the gardens of Vergelegen with Executive Chef Michael Cooke. Our journey took us across this vast estate and ended with us in the kitchen as chef Michael plated a special dessert, using ingredients picked straight from the garden. If you’re up for a challenge, recreate a version of this stunning dish with the recipe below – this is one that will really flex your culinary muscles! This stunning dish, which comprised blackberries, rhubarb, elderflowers and fennel picked from the garden, is designed to resemble a dewy blackberry bramble bush. It is a masterpiece that will wow! If you’re not up to recreating this just yet, how about visiting Camphors Restaurant at Vergelegen where you can try this gorgeous dessert, and other amazing dishes, using fresh picked ingredients, from Chef Michael and his team.

Serves: 4
Difficulty: difficult
Prep time: 2 hours + setting time
Cook time: 45 minutes + overnight drying

Chocolate Cream
63 g good quality dark chocolate
15 g castor sugar
65 g cream
1 g gelatine leaves, softened in cold water

Praline Cream
20 g milk
100 g cream
100 g praline paste (or substitute with nut butter instead)
1 g gelatine leaves, softened in cold water

Rhubarb Custard
2 stalks of rhubarb, chopped
40 ml grenadine
300 ml water
50 g castor sugar
200 g cream
2 g egg yolks
30 g castor sugar
1 g gelatine leaf, softened in cold water

Chocolate Discs
50 g castor sugar
22 g water
36 g glucose
60 g almonds
100 g dark chocolate

Chocolate Soil
62 g icing sugar
62 g ground almonds
36 g cake flour
25 g cocoa powder
32 g butter
1 g salt

Vanilla and Cocoa Meringue ‘Twigs’
70 g egg white
80 g castor sugar
1 tsp (15 ml) vanilla paste
20 g cocoa powder, sifted

Frosted Fennel Fronds
a handful of fresh fennel fronds
1 egg white
50 g castor sugar

To Assemble
praline cream
rhubarb custard
chocolate cream
4 chocolate discs
40 vanilla and cocoa meringue ‘twigs’ (approx. 10 per plate)
chocolate soil
200 g fresh blackberries
frosted fennel fronds
edible flowers 

4 scoops of berry sorbet

Chocolate Cream
Break the chocolate into pieces and place in a bowl with the castor sugar. Heat the cream in a saucepan until boiling, add the softened gelatine, remove from the heat and pour onto the chocolate. Mix until smooth. Cover and refrigerate until set. Once set, place into a piping bag fitted with a small round nozzle.

Praline Cream
Add the milk and cream to a saucepan and bring up to the boil. Once it has boiled, add the softened gelatine and stir until it has dissolved. Add the praline paste (or nut butter) and whisk until incorporated. Pour the mixture into a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into a small tray and leave to set in the fridge. Once set, place into a piping bag fitted with a round nozzle.

Rhubarb Custard
Combine the rhubarb, grenadine, water and castor sugar in a saucepan and simmer over a low heat until the rhubarb is soft. Increase the heat to boiling and reduce until the mixture reaches the consistency of jam. Blend the rhubarb jam until smooth.

For the custard, heat the cream in a saucepan until simmering. Using a stand mixer, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until pale in colour. Slowly pour the warm cream into the beaten egg and sugar mix, whisking to incorporate. Return the mixture to the stove, and heat very gently to cook the egg and thicken the custard. Add the rhubarb purée and softened gelatine and mix to combine. Pour into a container and refrigerate until set. Once set, place into a piping bag with a round nozzle.
Camphors Recipe Piping bags
Chocolate Discs
Add the castor sugar, water and glucose to a saucepan and heat to 115 ºC on a sugar thermometer. Stir in the almonds. Cook the mixture, stirring continuously until it reaches 155 ºC. Pour the mixture onto a sheet and allow to cool. Once cooled, blitz in a blender until the mixture resembles a granular powder. Melt the chocolate, add some of the blended nut powder and spread out thinly on acetate (transparency sheet). Place in the fridge to set – check continuously, once semi set, use a cookie cutter (approx. 4-5 cm in diameter) and cut the chocolate into round discs. Return to the fridge to set completely.

Chocolate Soil
Put the icing sugar, ground almonds, cake flour, cocoa powder and salt in a blender and blitz together. Melt the butter and pour into the blender whilst blitzing. Blitz until the mixture combines to form a crumble. Spread out onto a baking sheet and bake at 150 ºC for 10-12 minutes.

Vanilla and Cocoa Meringue ‘Twigs’
Whisk the egg whites until stiff peak stage and slowly add the castor sugar. Once the mixture is glossy, add the vanilla paste and cocoa powder and mix to combine. Line a baking sheet with baking paper, pour the meringue onto the sheet and smooth out into a thin layer. Use a chocolate/icing scraper to scrape along the length of the meringue to form long, separated ‘twigs’. Alternatively use a piping bag fitted with a very small nozzle to pipe thin twigs. Allow to dry in the oven at a low temperature (100 ºC).

Frosted Fennel Fronds
Trim the fennel fronds off the stalk into approximately 3 cm pieces. Whisk the egg white lightly with a fork. Dip the trimmed fronds into the egg white and then delicately dust with castor sugar to lightly coat. Lay flat on a sheet of baking paper and set aside to dry completely (tip: use a set of clean tweezers to shake off the excess sugar if needed). The fronds should resemble mini frosted tree branches.
Recipe Frosted Fennel
To Assemble
Pipe a circle of the praline cream in the middle of the bowl, roughly the same size as the chocolate disc (tip: use a ring mould to help guide)
Fill the circle with the rhubarb custard.
Pipe the chocolate cream in random circular shapes over the praline cream and rhubarb custard, to form a mound.
Place a chocolate disc on top.
Scatter the meringue twigs into the bowl.
Place small spoonfuls of the chocolate soil into the bowl.
Place blackberries amongst the meringue twigs.
Garnish with the frosted fennel leaves and edible flowers.
Place a scoop of the berry sorbet on top of the chocolate disc to finish. Serve immediately.Camphors Recipe

Note: In the pictured final recipe shot are flower shaped beetroot cut-outs and squares of beetroot jelly – these elements have been replaced by the use of rhubarb in the published recipe. 

Delicious produce is grown in healthy, living soil. #Harvesttotable series brought to you by Reliance Compost.

Reliance Compost

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>