Chocolate Forest by Martin Benn

Seyine Park /

From the kitchen of multi-award winning, Sepia Restaurant located in Sydney, Australia – we are pleased to bring you chef Martin Benn’s exclusive Chocolate Forest recipe.

Beginning his career in London, Martin Benn has become known over the years for blending fundamental French techniques with significant Japanese influences. Soon after its opening in 2009, Sepia earned and has maintained the highest rating of Three Chefs Hats, while Martin, himself, was just recently awarded Gourmet Traveller Chef of The Year 2015. So take a glimpse into the chef’s detailed process for his Chocolate Forest – composed of soft chocolate, hazelnut and chestnut, orange and thyme cream, sour cherry sorbet, cherry brandy jellies, green tea, licorice, chocolate twigs, and crystallized fennel fronds.

Lavender Cream

Ingredients
400ml cream
1g lavender
40g egg yolks
60g sugar
1g iota
1/2 gold leaf gelatine
1g Maidon sea salt
Instructions
Heat the cream until it gets to just under the simmer.
Add in the lavender and steep the cream for 10 minutes.
Soak the gelatine in ice water until completely hydrated.
Bring the cream back to the simmer and then pass off the lavender.
Pour the hot cream into a Vita Prep and then turn on low to create a vortex.
Add in the egg yolks and then the sugar to the centre of the vortex.
Once fully incorporated squeeze out the water from the gelatine and add in to the lavender milk.
Add in the iota and then finally the salt.
Blend for 1 minute then transfer to a mould and set in the fridge.
Once the lavender cream is set, use a whisk to break the gel and whisk until a smooth cream is formed.
Pour into a piping bag and set in the refrigerator until required.

Orange and Thyme Cream

Ingredients
400g cream
2ea orange zests
6g thyme leaves, chopped
65g sugar
1.2g iota
60g egg yolks
1ea sheets gold gelatine
30g orange juice
Instructions
Pour the cream into medium sized pan and bring to the boil.
Add in the orange zest and thyme cover with a lid and leave to steep for 15 minutes.
Return to a boil and shear in half of sugar and iota, while whisking.
In a bowl, whisk the remaining sugar and the egg yolks then temper in the infused cream.
Pour the cream back into the pan and return to medium heat.
Continue stirring until mixture reaches 84ºC (183.2ºF).
Hydrate the gelatine in iced water for 2 minutes, then squeeze out the excess water.
Reduce the orange juice by half and then add in the hydrated gelatine and stir well to combine.
Stir the gelatine and orange juice through the cream, and then pass through a fin chinois.
Cool over iced water and refrigerate for 4 hours.
Whip prior to serving and place in a piping bag with a plain nozzle.

Soft Chocolate Cream

Ingredients
260g cream
250g 70% chocolate
60g sugar
300g water
0.8g agar
0.8g iota
1/2 leaf ot gold gelatine
Instructions
Scaled the cream in a pan over medium heat.
Place the chocolate and sugar in a pan and then pour over the cream.
Whisk together, the chocolate and sugar so that all is dissolved and then set aside.
Place the water agar and iota in a cylinder, and using a stick blender, blend until smooth.
Bring this mixture to a boil and cook out for 1 minute.
Allow to cool slightly then add in the gelatine and mix until dissolved.
Pour the agar water over the chocolate mixture and stir until completely combined.
Pour into a line pan and leave to set.
Once the chocolate is set, use a whisk to break the gel and whisk until a smooth cream is formed.
Pour into a piping bag and set in the refrigerator until required.

Chestnut Cream

Ingredients
125g freshly roasted chestnuts (peeled weight)
60g sugar
1/2tsp vanilla paste
175g milk
Instructions
Place all the ingredients into a heavy based pan and bring to a simmer.
Cook until the chestnuts are tender and break up easily.
Blend into a purée and then pass through a fine sieve.
Cover and cool completely.

Praline Cream

Ingredients
90g cream
140g praline paste
Instructions
In a heavy based pan, heat the cream until just warm.
Place the praline paste into a Kitchen Aid bowl and attach paddle.
Slowly incorporate the cream until completely emulsified.
Store the cream in the refrigerator until required.

To Finish Chestnut and Praline Cream

Ingredients
Chestnut cream
Praline cream
Instructions
Mix 50% of each of the cream together and whisk until smooth.
Pour into a piping bag and keep in the refrigerator until required.

Tempered Chocolate Disc

Ingredients
200g tempered 70% chocolate
Instructions
Using a palette knife spread the chocolate out over a sheet of acetate at about 2mm thick.
Using a 6cm cutter, mark out 8 discs of chocolate.
Leave the chocolate to crystallize for a few hours.
Once the chocolate has crystallized, remove the cut out discs from the chocolate and store in an air tight container until required.

Chocolate Crumble

Ingredients
125g icing sugar
125g almond meal
75g plain flour
50g cocoa powder
2.5g salt
65g cocoa butter (melted)
Instructions
Place all the ingredients into a thermo mix and blend.
Roll into a sausage shape and chill completely.
Using a cheese grater, coarsely grate the mix into a silpat mat.
Bake in an oven at 150ºC (302°F) for 12 to 14 minutes.
Remove once baked and allow to cool.
Place into a sealed container and keep chilled.

Aniseed Praline Mix

Ingredients
100g praline paste
280g feuilletine
25g candid fennel seeds
20g licorice powder
3g Maidon sea salt
Instructions
In a bowl, lightly warm the praline paste until it becomes soft and easy to work with.
Gently toss through the feuilletine so not to crush and so the feuilletine becomes tacky.
Toss through the remaining ingredients.

Caramelized Fennel Seeds

Ingredients
50g fennel seeds
40g sugar
2g fine salt
Instructions
In a fry pan, lightly toast the fennel seeds.
Heat the sugar in a pan until it reaches 118°C (244.4ºF).
Then add the fennel seed and salt.
Stir the mixture and remove from the heat.
Pour out onto a silpat mat and leave to cool.
Once cool, pour the crystallized fennel seeds into a mortar and pestle and crush lightly to break up.

Chocolate Soil

Ingredients
220g Chocolate Crumble
220g Aniseed Praline Mix
Instructions
Place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well together.
Set aside for later.

Chocolate Crumble

Ingredients
125g icing sugar
125g almond meal
75g plain flour
50g cocoa powder
2.5g salt
65g cocoa butter (melted)
Instructions
Place all the ingredients into a thermo mix and blend.
Roll into a sausage shape and chill completely.
Using a cheese grater, coarsely grate the mix into a silpat mat.
Bake in an oven at 150ºC (302°F) for 12 to 14 minutes.
Remove once baked and allow to cool.
Place into a sealed container and keep chilled.

Firm Cherry Brandy Jellies

Ingredients
180g cherry brandy
120g water
3g agar
Instructions
Bring both liquids to a boil and then add the agar.
Boil for 1 minute, strain, and set in a container.
Once set, cut the jelly into small dice.

For the Green Tea Moss

Ingredients
50g sugar
50g butter (softened)
50g flour
50g almond meal
15g green tea powder
Instructions
Cream together the sugar and the butter.
Fold through the flour and almond meal.
Finally add in the tea.
Roll the paste into a log and set in the freezer overnight.
Line a baking sheet with a silpat mat.
Once frozen, grate the green tea paste over the silpat mat lightly using a micro plane.
Bake the tea past in the oven at 120ºC (248ºF) for around 8 minutes.

Crystallized Fennel Fronds

Ingredients
1 egg white
1 bunch of fennel fronds
50g caster sugar
Instructions
Lightly break down the egg white with a fork.
Using a pastry brush, dip it lightly into the white then lightly brush the fennel fronds.
Sprinkle over the caster sugar and make sure that it does not clump in one area.
Place the fennel onto a tray lined with grease proof paper and leave to dry and crystallize at room temperature for 3 to 4 hours.

Chocolate Twigs

Ingredients
100g melted tempered 70% chocolate
250g cocoa powder
Instructions
Pour the melted chocolate into a piping bag and cut a very fine hole off the end.
Pour an even coating of the cocoa powder into a deep tray and reserve half for later.
Pipe the chocolate into the shape of branches and then dust over the remaining cocoa powder.
Place in the refrigerator to set.
Once set, use a fork to remove the branches carefully and shake off the excess cocoa powder.
Place into the refrigerator until required.

Sour Cherry Sorbet

Ingredients
600g sour cherry purée (sieved weight)
65g sugar
86g glucose powder
260g water
150g sorbet syrup base per 1 litre base
Instructions
Warm the sugar, glucose, and water together to 80°C (176ºF).
Pour over the cherry purée. Using a hand-held blender, blend in the sorbet base until completely mixed through.
Place the base into the refrigerator for 1 day to rest and so that the sorbet base binds to the fruit base.
Next day, pour the cherry sorbet into a Pacojet container and freeze for 24 hours.
Spin the cherry sorbet 1 hour before using and put the rest back in the freezer.

 

To Plate

Start with a deep bowl as a serving dish.
Pipe in the orange and thyme cream, chocolate cream, and chestnut and praline cream into the base of each of the bowls.
Place the tempered chocolate disc on top and press down lightly.
Pipe another small amount of the chocolate cream on top of the chocolate disc.
Take the chocolate soil mix and sprinkle evenly over the chocolate disc.
Add a few of the cherry jellies to each of the plates spreading over evenly to look like little jewels.
Sprinkle over the green tea moss evenly over the soil and add the crystallized fennel fronds around.
Place the chocolate twigs around so that it looks like fallen branches.
Finally finish with a quenelle of the sour cherry sorbet that has fallen from the tree.
Serve immediately.

Sepia

Chocolate Forest by chef Martin Benn of Sepia. © Sepia