We made the famous Down the Rabbit Hole Dessert
Published: June 17th, 2020 | Last Updated: June 17th, 2020
We recreated Reynold Poernomo’s Alice in Wonderland themed dessert, Down the Rabbit Hole! Before this MasterChef Australia episode aired on TV, the ads were hyping this immunity challenge to yield ‘the greatest dish ever seen’, and we just knew Reynold would deliver something spectacular. Sure enough, Down the Rabbit Hole gobsmacked the country and was the winning dish of the night, living up to its advertised reputation.
This is our rendition of Reynold’s ‘Down the Rabbit Hole’ dessert.
Making the elements
Being newlyweds who love desserts, we’ve been down our own rabbit hole of dessert discoveries, self-learning how to temper chocolate and master classic and contemporary dessert techniques. We don’t have all the equipment needed (siphon gun, spray gun, liquid nitrogen) so we had to get creative without compromising texture, flavour or aesthetics.
Dulce Diplomat Cream
Luckily for us, we had some caramelised white chocolate already in our pantry. We had never made or tasted a diplomat cream before, but following the recipe, we ended up with a beautiful and glossy mixture.
Pistachio Microwave Sponge
Pistachio paste is difficult to come by. The smallest jar we could find came at a whopping $34 for 200g. Instead, we made our own using some raw nuts from our local grocery store. We know of a few delicious recipes for pistachio paste and so knew it was worth the effort. We’ve posted a recipe here so you can learn how to make your own pistachio paste.
The microwave sponge recipe calls for a siphon gun to incorporate the air. Seeing as we didn’t have one of those, instead we whipped the pistachio batter for 20 minutes, still creating a super fluffy and light texture. Click here for our recipe on how to make a pistachio microwave sponge without a siphon gun.
Lime Yoghurt Rocks (Lime Yoghurt Foam)
The lime yoghurt foam in the recipe calls for a siphon gun and liquid nitrogen, but we had neither. On our first attempt, we tried using a stick blender with the aeration attachment. It didn’t build up much volume and it eventually started clumping together. It was not nice at all and so we had to abandon this attempt.
On our second attempt we whipped up the mixture in a bowl with a whisk. It formed soft peaks. We froze it in semi sphere moulds, then broke it up roughly and rubbed them between our hands to create ‘rocks’. It probably wasn’t as light and airy as what would come out of a siphon gun, but it gave a similar look.
We didn’t have any matcha at home and couldn’t find any at our local grocery stores (careful not to buy the green tea matcha blends which are 95% green tea and only 5% matcha). After venturing out into other specialty stores, we found packets of $24 for 140g. This was a bit much for us, seeing as we only needed 10g. We eventually found a 20g packet for less that $3 at a Japanese variety discount store, which was exactly what we needed.
The instructions for the matcha soil were to mix the ingredients together, place chunks onto a baking tray, bake and then process into a crumb. It seemed a little unintuitive that these chunks would cook evenly and be crumb-able. But after following the instructed 25 minutes of baking and some light pulses in our food processor, it crumbled into a fine powder and retained a vibrant green colour.
Tempered Chocolate Logs
We also tried a different technique for the chocolate log. The recipe instructs us to first create a cylinder, wait for that to set and then spread on extra chocolate to give the log texture. We worried that our tempered chocolate would set before we could use it again for the outer layer and so we tried thinking of a way we could make a log in one go.
We wrapped acetate around the test tube that our vanilla pods came in, spread the chocolate over the acetate with an offset spatula and continued to work the chocolate as it set, creating a bark-like texture. It was tricky getting the logs out in one piece, but as they shattered in some places, it gave the log an organic look.
Tempered Chocolate Branches
Making the chocolate branches was tricky. We’ve always heard that chocolate and water don’t mix, but this technique just worked. It was difficult to get the chocolate to go where we wanted it to go, but we think that was because our tempered chocolate was already thick and beginning to set. When piping the twigs, sometimes it floats over the water, other times it sinks. But the lack of control gave the branches interesting patterns. After the branches dried there were some bloomed areas where the water droplets formed. However, they were easily covered up by the rose petals and gold lustre dust.
White Chocolate Discs
For the white chocolate discs, we tried two ways: spreading white chocolate between two plastic sheets and spreading the white chocolate over some baking paper. Using two plastic sheets resulted in really thin discs whereas using the baking paper resulted in thicker discs and had some streaks from the offset spatula.
The chocolate spray was used to give the illusion of a forest floor. However, we didn’t have a spray gun handy and so had to consider other options. We considered making a crystallised chocolate soil, dusting some cocoa powder but settled on shaving some dark chocolate with a microplane. The shavings had a matte look and gave an illusion of bark or wood shavings.
Vanilla Caramel Sauce
The vanilla caramel gave us some trouble. On our first attempt, we reduced the mixture for too long which made the caramel really thick. Our second attempt yielded better results.
Assembly and Presentation
We don’t have a wide selection of bowls to choose from but had a classic white bowl with embellished edges which we thought matched the Alice in Wonderland theme.
Our first dish looked beautiful but didn’t have a nice melting rabbit hole effect. The sauce was too thick and we poured too much on. By the time the hole was big enough, the hole had already filled up.
For our second attempt, we piped a ‘U’ shape to give the caramel somewhere to flow into. We also piped tall ‘kisses’ which acted like pillars to hold the white chocolate disc higher so that the sauce would have a more dramatic fall.
How did it taste?
On the show, the dish was beautifully presented and accompanied with some entrancing theatrics. It truly embodied its theme of ‘down the rabbit hole’ in Alice in Wonderland. While we could do our best to replicate the look of the dish, there is no reference point to know what it was supposed to taste like.
However, we can honestly say that this was one of the best desserts we’ve had. The flavour combinations and textures work so well together. The sweetness and the richness of the diplomat cream is balanced with the snappy dark chocolate log and the bitterness and crunch from the matcha soil. The pistachio sponge brings softness and lightness. The frozen yoghurt rocks are a nice acidic and cold contrast to the warm and decadent caramel sauce. Every element has a role to play and they work together so flawlessly. It’s amazing that this recipe could be conceived and created in just 75 minutes.
The original recipe is by Reynold Poernomo and can be found here on the MasterChef Australia website.
How do you think we went? Comment below with your favourite MasterChef recipes or send a suggestion on what to try next!