The mystery box dessert challenge 2023
A key part of the regional finals is to create a dessert from a mystery box of ingredients given on the day of the competition. The format changed slightly in 2023, and finalists have 30 minutes at the start of the competition to write a recipe using a selection of ingredients. They may use reference books they bring for this preparation, but may not take them into the kitchen. The use of electronic devices, including mobile phones, laptops, computers or iPads is not permitted, at any time, during the regional final cook off.
The 2023 mystery box
The finalists were tasked with making a dessert with as many or as few ingredients from the 22 items as they liked. They were guided towards demonstrating their skills with choux pastry. We appreciate excellent ingredients supplied by some of our sponsors, including Elle & Vire butter and cream, St Ewe Free Range Eggs and a selection of goods from Wellocks.
250g Elle & Vire Professionnel unsalted butter
1ltr Elle & Vire Professionnel whipping cream
1ltr whole milk
500g plain flour
100g corn flour
100g finely ground almonds
20g dried yeast
250g soft light brown sugar
1 vanilla pod
2 leaves of “silver” gelatine
400g fresh strawberries
1ltr sunflower oil
12 St Ewe Rich Yolk free range eggs
20g ground cinnamon
150g fondant patissier
100g almonds flaked
330ml lager beer
150g icing sugar
250g caster sugar
140g Michel Cluizel dark chocolate tablet 72%
75g Callebaut praline hazelnut
Competitors were asked to prepare a dessert for four persons, using only ingredients contained in the Mystery Box (only water and salt are permitted in addition). The dessert had to be served on four plates, either supplied by the college on the day or brought by the finalist. Competitors were permitted to use any techniques and/or styles, for example classic, traditional, modern, molecular, innovative, or personalised.
Many of the regional finalists chose to do a version of Paris-Brest, including the eventual winner April Lily Partridge – who had only ever prepared choux pastry once before several years prior!