Since we have started to discuss the use of vegetables in desserts, I couldn’t but recollect a wonderful dish by Matt Moran (Aura restaurant, Sidney) which he presented at a master class in one of the episodes of Masterchef Australia Season 4. It was a cauliflower and white chocolate ice cream served with vanilla cauliflower puree, nutmeg sponge and caramelized honey bread. Sounds weird, doesn’t it? But do you know what I love about cooking the most? Nonconformality! Thus, I decided to try the recipe at home.
I really enjoyed cooking this dish. There was much fun about putting sugar and vanilla in cauliflower puree. And I loved the technique of making honey crumble with the bread (I used a French baguette). And despite the “craziness” of the idea the dessert turned out to be one of the best which I managed to try recently. Even my husband who was very skeptical about it (at first he even thought that he misunderstood me when I said that I’m making a cauliflower ice cream) confessed that he liked it. Indeed, there is just a hint of cauliflower aroma in the dish which beautifully compliments white chocolate. The overall sweetness of the dessert is counterbalanced by the tartness of fresh raspberries and freeze dried raspberry powder (which I decided to add in order to get another texture and taste dimension in the dish).
I strongly recommend you to try this dessert and it definitely proves that we should step out of our comfort zone of cooking and start searching new, nontraditional combination of ingredients!
Recipe by Matt Moran
Caramelized honey bread
150 gm butter
100 gm honey
¼ loaf Miche bread, torn into small pieces
Cauliflower and white chocolate ice cream
175 gm cauliflower florets
375 ml pure cream
500 ml milk
180 gm egg yolks
125 gm caster sugar
250 gm white chocolate, finely chopped
Sweet cauliflower and vanilla puree
225g cauliflower, core removed, thinly sliced
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
50 ml pure cream
45g caster sugar
200 gm egg whites
60 gm egg yolks
180 gm caster sugar
40 gm plain flour
½ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1. For the caramelised honey bread preheat oven to 200°C fan forced. Melt butter and honey in a small saucepan. Add the bread and toss to coat in butter and honey, drain. Spread bread on a baking tray lined with baking paper and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce oven to 80°C and cook for 1 hour to dry out.
2. For the cauliflower and white chocolate ice cream place cauliflower and cream into a medium saucepan over high heat. Cook uncovered for about 12 minutes until cream has reduced by half, strain and discard cauliflower. You should have about 250ml cream. Heat milk in a saucepan to simmering point. Whisk yolks and sugar together until pale then pour hot milk into yolks, whisking constantly. Return to the saucepan, cook over low heat until the custard coats the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat, stir in white chocolate, then cauliflower cream. Strain into a bowl and refrigerate until cold. Churn 500-600ml in an ice cream machine following manufacturer instructions.
3. For the sweet cauliflower and vanilla puree place cauliflower in a small saucepan, cover with milk, add vanilla bean and seeds and cook, covered, over low heat for 10-15 minutes until very soft. Strain liquid, discard vanilla bean and milk, blend cauliflower until chopped, then add cream and sugar and blend until smooth. Pass through a fine sieve, cool before use.
4. For the nutmeg sponge place all ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth. Pour into a cream canister and charge with 4 nitrous bulbs, shaking after each addition. Make lots of small incisions in the bottom of 8 paper cups to allow steam to escape. Half-fill cups with sponge mixture and microwave on high for 40 seconds. Allow to cool, use a small sharp knife to scrape around the inner edge of the cup to remove sponge, break into 6-8 pieces.
5. To serve spoon some puree in the centre of the plate in a chef ring in a circle. Arrange pieces of nutmeg cake, raspberries, quenelles of ice cream, caramelized bread and micro cress on the plate and serve.
Since I didn’t have a culinary siphon I cooked the sponge in a traditional way: by whisking the egg yolks with sugar, adding the flour to it and folding the whisked egg whites. The sponge was baked at 180C for 15 minutes.