An edible peacock, paper clips, and a soufflé worse than childbirth, Chocolate Week went way beyond brownies in the semi-final of this week’s Bake Off, but which contestant Flaked and got themselves into a Walnut Whip and who was this week’s Milky Star Baker and Smartie of the class?
The semi-final opened with a chocolate tart: chocolate filling in chocolate pastry casing, sounds simple but the bakers can’t tell if the crust is baked due to the added cocoa. Naturally Flora goes just a little bit OTT and announced that she intended to produce a triple layered tart with added macaroons and chocolate antlers, and the result? “If you’re going to do a macaroon, do it properly,” Paul Hollywood scoffed. Contrastingly, Tamal stuck to something more low-key and baked a super rich chocolate tart but it was his exquisite raspberry coulis that wowed the judges. Meanwhile the Einstein of the Bake Off world, Ian has introduced various concoctions of flavours to the judges such as coffee and cardamon, apple and tarragon, and now he unleashed bay leaves and salted caramel. And it did work I hear you ask? “I don’t like the caramel underneath,” said Paul, “I can’t really taste the bay leaf,” added Mary, so depending on what judge you choose to believe, the bay leaf was either undetectable or disgusting, sorry Ian. But it was Nadiya who took the chocolate tart tiara with her homemade peanut butter and salted caramel tart. She even received the Paul Hollywood Handshake of Approval which made her the first female contestant to ever get a handshake. Nadiya need not bother about the final now she’s got that.
Now onto the Technical which shaked the entire tent as it was another all-time first for Bake Off. Contestants were asked to make a chocolate soufflé but were given staggered times to start, this is even more thrilling than Victorian week! Each baker admitted they’ve never made a soufflé before so I suppose the minimally cryptic instructions didn’t help. Flora was first to enter and redeemed herself as she came out on top. For Nadiya, it didn’t go so well. She announced she’d rather go through childbirth again than make a soufflé as her bake came last. Underdog Tamal came second and Ian came third as his souffle looked more like a muddy puddle, one of those ones you’d avoid on a rainy day.
Finally the Showstopper, where the semi-finalists had a create an impressive chocolate centerpiece. Tamal constructed a bell tower with a lot of intricate chocolate work earned him praise and a place in the final. Nadiya made a grand peacock which looked beautiful and tasted even better and crowned her Star Baker thus put her through into the final. Ian opted for innovation as he constructed a fully functioning chocolate well where there even is a bucket to fetch white chocolate water, but seemed to forget this was a baking competition and his Showstopper didn’t showcase a cake in sight. Flora however, created a cocoa carousel, complete with white ganache horses made from biscuit and a puffed-rice canopy which impressed the judges, but did it taste as good as it looked? Quite frankly no, the base tasted like bicarb and just like the White Witch from Narnia as soon as Paul touched Flora’s bake it crumbled instantly. Run for your life and escape the tent now before he crumbles you too Flora! Farewell Flora.
Why not try our Salted Caramel Brownie showstoppers?
Prep time: 20 mins
200g unsalted butter, plus a little extra for greasing
100g chocolate, 70% cocoa solids
100g chocolate, 50% cocoa solids
400g can Carnation caramel
1 tsp flaky sea salt, plus a little extra for the top
200g golden caster sugar
130g plain flour
50g cocoa powder
- Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Grease then line a 23cm square tray bake tin with baking parchment. Melt the butter in a medium pan, break in all the chocolate, then remove the pan from the heat and wait for the cubes to melt.
- In a small bowl, mix 175g of the caramel with 1 tsp sea salt – it will loosen up. Put the rest of the caramel in a large bowl with the sugar and eggs, and beat with an electric hand mixer or balloon whisk until even.
- Whisk in the chocolate and butter. In another bowl, combine the flour, cocoa and a good pinch of table salt, then sift this on top of the chocolate mix. Beat briefly until smooth.
- Pour half the brownie batter into the tin and level it with a spatula. Using a teaspoon, spoon half of the salted caramel on top of the batter layer in 5 thick, evenly spaced stripes. Spoon the rest of the brownie batter on top and smooth it out, trying not to disturb the caramel beneath. Top with the rest of the caramel in the same stripy fashion. Drag a skewer or tip of a knife through the caramel to make a feathered pattern on the top.
- Scatter with a little more sea salt, then bake for 25-30 mins or until risen all the way to the middle with a firm crust on top. When ready, the brownie will jiggle just a little when you shake the tin. Let it cool completely in the tin, then cut into squares.