MasterChef 2020 recap: How to turn chocolate into a cocktail with the cocoa queen

Kirsten Tibball's  'meljito' is tonight's challenge.
Kirsten Tibball's 'meljito' is tonight's challenge.  Photo: NETWORK 10

Well, well, well. Look who finally joined the real world. After eight weeks of me watching in jealous disgust as everyone on this show rubbed their food-sharing and friend-hugging in our sad lonely faces, MasterChef is finally social distancing like the rest of us.

As the contestants file into this new COVID-19 kitchen, they are spaced so far apart it's like they've turned into a dance troupe, though obviously not one that would have any moves (looking at you, Simon).

Now that they are as isolated and fragile as we are, the producers have decided to take it easy on the contestants this week, and make tonight's pressure test a chance for immunity rather than an elimination. And aren't we all hoping for some immunity right now? (Not you, Pete Evans.)

Last night's episode saw Khanh, Simon, Brendan and Emelia win the team challenge. Khanh says he really wants to learn something this pressure test, though this is what we all said at the start of lockdown, too, and though I enrolled in at least three Zoom courses, I attended exactly zero. I did watch three seasons of Ozark, so I learnt a lot about money laundering.

Khanh is so focused on winning he tells us he even had an early night last night and did some self-care, which apparently for him means a steak for dinner and face masks with Andy.

Melissa is back from her mystery disappearance yesterday, dressed in an all-business black pant-suit balanced with some outrageous fuchsia earrings that look like what I imagine hula dancers wear to the club. Jock is in his tartan golfing greens to remind us of his Scottish heritage in case we had all forgotten.

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Melissa introduces the guest judge for the pressure test, the queen of chocolate Kirsten Tibballs. Kirsten owns Savour Chocolate School and is no stranger to tasking former MasterChef contestants with crazy chocolate challenges. She reveals today's challenge: a watermelon cocktail. She names it a "meljito" and Kirsten should probably hire someone to come up with a better name.

Kirsten cuts it open and dissects it like a game of Operation. There's the white chocolate sphere coated with freeze-dried raspberry and dipped in two shades of green chocolate. It's filled with layers of whipped white chocolate chantilly, watermelon and vodka jelly, mint and lime madeleine, marinated watermelon and finished with a chocolate straw. Khanh looks like he would just prefer a real mojito actually.

Kirsten says it's 12/10 on a scale of difficulty, and the chocolate sphere and straw are the hardest elements. She says the most important thing to do will be to temper the "tank of chocolate" correctly, but the most important thing for me to do now is make enquiries into where to purchase myself a "chocolate tank".

Kirsten starts the clock and the contestants start reading their recipe, on which there is 75 steps!!! Wow. No, thank you!!

Emelia's first step is to wash her hands, and hopefully that was always her first step corona or not. She starts on her chantilly and did everyone just watch her put in the vanilla bean extract with her FINGER. Not in this climate, Emelia!! In fact, never!!

She moves on quickly to her jelly. She says she has never won an immunity challenge in either season six or 12, so this time she really wants it. She says she is going to take it seriously, because even though she always seems like an emotionally vacant fembot, we've not seen her being serious yet.

It's time to temper the chocolate. Jock comes over to Simon's bench to make fun of him for almost screwing up his tempered black box pressure test last week. Emelia, of course, is nailing it. Poh tells Emelia she is boring to watch because she's so under control, and honestly, same.

She melts down her 10 kilograms (!) of white chocolate in two bowls in the microwave, then continues to heat them up with some sort of kitchen hairdryer. The salon is still open, you guys!

Kirsten works for her Channel 10 appearance money by saying that MasterChef is so "amazing because the contestants get to upskill". Apparently the viewers don't, because there have been two chocolate pressure tests in a row and I still have no idea how to temper chocolate.

Brendan says he feels out of his depth. He has a major case of the sweats so the producers give him paper towels to wipe his head now that tea towels are unsanitary.

Emelia is already up to her madeleine step. She pours the batter into a big square tin, and am I the only who thinks that this is now just a cake not a "madeleine"? When does a madeleine really become a madeleine? These are the philosophical questions I ask myself instead of doing my Zoom courses.

Speaking of zoom, Emelia is doing it. She has already started filling her domes with the white chocolate. We get a little backstory of how she has her own cake and dessert business. She says she is used to using tempered chocolate to garnish her cakes and we see a scene of her decorating a cake with so many shards it could be a certified weapon.

Khanh is also starting his domes and Reynold gives his tick of approval from the gantry, not that anyone asked.

Brendan is behind. Everyone else is on the spheres and he is still trying to melt his chocolate. Jock says he looks really frazzled. Always so helpful.

Meanwhile, Emelia is just casually cleaning her bench to make her chocolate straws. She has to make a batch of yellow chocolate for the stripes and then pours the white chocolate on top. She uses a scraper to curl up the straws. Nifty! Kirsten feels so proud she feels like crying.

Up in the gantry, Reynold asks Reece if he has made a straw before. Reece says he hasn't, but it was just Reynold's way of flexing because of course he has made a chocolate straw before and wants to tell the world!

Brendan is also onto his straws. They roll up perfectly first go. His brother from another mother Reece is so proud. Melissa is speechless, she says he should high-five himself. Reece tells him he's a chocolatier. Brendan says, "I'm going to be crying chocolate tears" and aww, baby's first joke!

Next on the list of dumb things to do in this recipe: Emelia is inserting a water balloon into her chocolate sphere. A chocolate tank, a hairdryer, now a water balloon? Is this pandemic cooking or are these real baking tools?

Emelia gives us no time for a break and is now onto colouring her chocolate. She has to make two huge bowls of chocolate, one light green and one dark green. She creates an asterisk in the centre of the bowl with the lighter chocolate and dips in her sphere. She pulls it out with perfect stripes. All I can think is that I can't believe they wasted 10 kilograms of chocolate on this tiny watermelon.

Brendan tells us he is back to prove he is not just a "dumpling guy". He wants to make sure his chocolate work is perfect. But he is having trouble getting his domes out of the mould. Kirsten asks if he put them in the fridge. Oops! Time magically goes by and Brendan takes his domes out of the freezer and they fall out perfectly. All's well that ends with strategic edits.

Meanwhile, Khanh is whispering sweet nothings to his spheres. He loves them. The relationship quickly sours though as the sphere cracks in his hands as he tries to dip it in the green chocolate. Khanh gets his second sphere out of the fridge and then for some reason tries to tie the balloon up while it is still in the fridge. It's a nightmare for the camera guy, the fridge is beeping at him like it does when you can't decide what to have for dinner, but it's also not a good working space for Khanh, either, who snaps the top off with his "fat" fingers.

It was Khanh's last sphere so he proceeds to have a meltdown. Jock comes over for one of his signature stern daddy pep talks. He tells him just to "steam through it" and that he is the "the last-minute master". Khanh wishes Katy Perry was here.

Jock says he doesn't want to "pickle anyone's melon" but there's only 15 minutes to go! I guess it's a thing people say in Scotland?

Khanh looks like he is ready to give up. He patches up the broken sphere with a bit of extra tempered chocolate then dips it in his chocolate. For some reason he didn't bother with the stripes so now it is looking more like a Granny Smith apple, but actually that sounds like a better cocktail to me.

Simon has managed to pull all his elements together, but as he tries to take his watermelon off the baking paper, he snaps the sphere in half. He now has to use his back-up watermelon that looks more like a beach ball than a watermelon, but it would be weird if Simon won anyway to be honest.

Khanh is stressing out. Jock's pep talk did not help. Andy wants to give him a hug but says he can't. Can Andy just work from home now? Or just go home? Either/or.

One minute to go and Khanh decides to paint on his lighter green stripes with a paint brush. It looks like something a home-schooled child might do during "art" lessons.

So time is up and now the contestants each have three minutes to plate up their dish for the judges, who are all sitting awkwardly around the judging table like a family who really hates each other.

Brendan plates up his meljito and it looks pretty good. He went a bit rogue with the striping but Kirsten says it still looks good. Andy says it "eats really well" and the chantilly was "thick".

Khanh is next. He has all the elements done but the watermelon looks pretty average with his hand-painted stripes. He tells the judges it was challenging and his watermelon looks more like a Ninja Turtle. Melissa likes the freeze-dried raspberries, but presumably the freeze-dried raspberries are in every dish so that's not really a compliment to Khanh? 

Simon plates up. He is hoping, as his mum has told him for most of his life, that it's what's on the inside that counts. Melissa comments multiple time on how it's so thick. Simon must be happy to hear that. She also says the jelly had good flavour and the watermelon had a uniform look, which is a pretty boring compliment but Simon will take it. Andy says he needs to gain finesse. Ooh, fancy word, Andy!

Emelia puts her layers in easily and thinks she has done a really good job. Kirsten says she can't fault any of it and should be congratulated. Melissa says Emelia is "fantastic". Jock is impressed with her skillful chocolate work. Andy says he only has three words to add to that – Hard. To. Beat. – because he didn't think "cracker" or "banging" was appropriate for this moment.

Jock says that there was only one dish that was close enough to Kirsten's and even though there is a long pause, the camera pans on Emelia and she is looking preeetty smug. Emelia is the winner! She says she was feeling crappy last week, but is now so happy. Emelia has the same deadpan expression she always has on, so I guess we will take her word for it!

Read the rest of our MasterChef recaps here and follow Eloise Basuki on Twitter @eloise_baz.