There are few shows I completely follow along with, but I’ve been watching Masterchef Australia since the start. None of the other version (US, UK, Dutch) have made it to my playlist. The show has a good balance of contestants talking, actual cooking and tasting and I’ve certainly learned a ton. The other day we watched an episode where one of the contestants made this brilliant dessert, simply called: Peanut butter and chocolate. It made us hungry in front of the tv and I decided to give the recipe a try the day after!
That chocolate peanut butter dessert we’re discussing here, is a great example of applying the science we learn here on the blog when cooking. The reason we discuss a lot of (food) science here on the blog is to be apply to apply that. Sometimes that’s in manufacturing, other times, it’s for whipping up a new, seemingly complicated dish. Once you understand what happens in your food, you’ll be able to make even better food, like this chocolate and peanut butter creation.
Chocolate & peanut butter dessert
This dessert is made up of four components: peanut butter ice cream, nut crumb, chocolate mousse and a caramel sauce. It’s the combination of ingredients that make this dish so delicious. Just the ice cream would have been way too much, whereas only caramel would have been too sweet. It’s what the cooks at Masterchef Australia are so good at, combining the right flavours and textures.
You can now scroll down to the recipe straight away, but if you feel you need a bit more guidance, we’ll dive deeper into the individual components first.
Science of peanut butter ice cream
Ice cream can be made with as little as two ingredients: cream & condensed milk. By whipping the cream you introduce air into the ice cream (essential to make it easy to scoop). The cream also contributes fat, which will make that ice cream creamy. The condensed milk adds extra moisture and, even more importantly, sugar. The sugar is what helps to prevent all the water from freezing thanks to the so called freezing point depression and makes sure the ice cream isn’t too cold and hard.
This recipe is a variation on the tried formula and adds in some peanut butter to the mix. The peanut butter adds flavours, of course, but it also adds extra fat for creaminess. You wouldn’t want to add too much peanut butter, or it will become too dense, but with the amount used here, it works great.
Adding a nut crumb to this dessert adds a crunchy texture to the dish. If you’ve watched those tv cooking shows as well, you will have certainly seen the phenomenon. Even though I don’t have scientific proof, I know I personally like something crunchy with my (in this case peanut butter) ice cream.
Nuts are full of flavor and nutrients like proteins and fats. Their flavor develops ever further by roasting them. During roasting, the Maillard reaction occurs which forms both colour and flavor components.
When you roast nuts they actually turn softer in the oven (which does make it easier to chop them). This is because the fats in the nuts melt. So if you’re looking for some crunch in your dessert here, you’ll have to cool the nuts down again so everything solidifies again.
This chocolate mousse is one of the simplest (and most stable) foams you can make. Instead of using eggs and cream and a lot of other ingredients, all we do is use chocolate and water. It’s not as airy, light and creamy as the more complicated chocolate mousse but still does the job just fine!
The chocolate mousse is made of just two ingredients: water & chocolate. The water will change the structure of the chocolate and create a ganache. As a result, it will not become as hard anymore when it cools down and form a softer texture. By whipping the chocolate it’s warm you can introduce air and form a foam. Once the ganache cools down, the chocolate fats will solidify again. That will actually set the foam and make sure it doesn’t collapse anymore.
The caramel sauce brings it all together by coating all the different components. It’s a simple caramel sauce, or dairy to enrich it, it’s just sugar, water and whisky! The whisky gives it some good flavor.
Caramel is mostly sugar, but you can make it such that it isn’t overly sweet. When you make a caramel you’ll always caramelize the sugar. It turns from a brown into a darker colour. Along with the darker colour, it also develops more flavor which can even turn it bitter.
Chocolate and peanut butter dessert – The Recipe
- 120g cream (high fat content, >30%)
- 75g condensed milk
- 50g peanut butter
- 35g pistachio nuts (or macademia, or almonds, whichever you prefer)
- 20g brown sugar
- 20g flour
- 20g butter (melted)
- 85g chocolate (dark or milk, dark will give a slightly more bitter mousse)
- 75g water
- 60g sugar
- 60g ml whisky (can be substituted for water, but whisky does really enrich the flavour, you will boil away most of the alcohol)
- Start the ice cream at least 4 hours before you want to eat, better is to leave it overnight.
- Whip the cream until you've got stiff peaks.
- Mix the peanut butter with the condensed milk. This will make the peanut butter a little more fluid, making it easier to mix in.
- Pour the peanut butter + condensed milk onto the whipped cream, do this gently. Carefully fold the whipped cream through the peanut butter. You will lose some air, but try avoiding it as much as possible.
- Pour in a freezer tight container and freeze at -18C for at least 4 hours, but it can be kept good for months (although it will harden and might get some freezer burn).
- Blitz the nuts until they're a rough crumb using a food processor, don't blitz them too finely.
- Mix the pistachio nuts, sugar, flour and melted butter into a nice crumb. The mixture will be crumbly.
- Bake in the oven at 170C for 8-10 minutes. It should be a light brown.
- Place the chocolate and water in a microwave proof bowl and melt the chocolate. Don't use maximum wattage of your microwave and place in the microwave for only 15-30s at a time, stir in between to prevent burning.
- Leave the mixture to cool down. This will take approx. 30 minutes, but might take longer or shorter depending on your room temperature and how hot you've heated it.
- Once the mixture won't immediately pour down anymore when you stir through, whisk vigorously to create a fluffy mousse. This should go pretty fast!
- Pour the sugar in a pan and add enough water to cover the sugar.
- Place on a medium high heat and keep on boiling until it starts turning brown. Refrain from stirring in between, just let it boil!
- Keep a close eye on it towards the end, it shouldn't burn. Keep some water at hand to pour in as soon as the right colour has been reached. It should be a nice golden brown. Pour in about 100-150ml. The exact quantity doesn't really matter. However, try to keep it limited since you'll be boiling away most of it again.
- Boil the mixture again, at a moderate heat, to thicken up. Once it starts thickening, add the whisky and boil a little longer until you've got the consistency you're looking for. You can make it very liquid or slightly thicker. Boiling longer will make it thicker. Keep in mind that when it cools down it will become a lot thicker again!