National Chocolate Masters from 20 countries, three heady days in Paris, a World Final broadcast live, reputations and recipes on the line… in the chocolate and pastry world, it doesn’t get any more thrilling!
Ruth received massive support from her legion of fans, who had travelled to Paris from the four corners of the globe to wave the Union Jack, along with the thousands of spectators in the viewing gallery.
By day two, Ruth’s campaign was getting picked up the press back in the UK. She gave a live telephone interview on the Chris Evans Radio 2 programme, her story was reported by ITV News and the Scottish Parliament passed a motion of congratulations.
So how do you prepare to take on the best in the world? By training 25 hours a week for a year, coached by top international pastry chef, Martin Chiffers. How do you choose a world-class idea? By going back to nature! The competition theme was ‘Architecture of Taste’, so Ruth found inspiration in nature’s own tiny architect, the honeybee.
Not only is the honeybee associated with all things sweet – it also evokes themes such as pollination, and is known for its wonderfully precise geometric honeycomb. So plenty of potential for designs and tastes to impress the judges.
The jury for the World Chocolate Masters is decidedly daunting: 20 internationally renowned chefs, one from each of the competing nations. Ruth’s jury line-up included none other than international culinary superstars Sergio Herman (Netherlands), Ramon Morato (Spain) and Norman Love (USA). No pressure!
Ruth’s top five success at the World Chocolate Masters is the highest ever result in international competition by a UK chocolatier or pastry chef. This put her ahead of national champions from France, Belgium and Switzerland, proving once and for all that the UK can take on the world’s most prestigious chocolate and pastry nations – and win!
The chocolate showpiece is a work of art made entirely from chocolate, and a chance to show outstanding creative and technical mastery. The chefs work under exceptional pressure – not just from their competitive peers, but also from the live broadcast, the heat of the lights and the fragility of their raw material. Cool heads and hands are a must, as well as an exciting and imaginative idea.
The judges are looking for creativity, originality, balance, harmony and execution – in short, the ‘wow’ factor. It’s hardly surprising that some showpieces collapse under the strain.
Ruth’s showpiece towered almost 2m high, so she had to stand on a stepladder to finish the upper flowers. It was a dramatic tribute to the honeybee theme, with sweeping organic lines, lush tropical flowers, and sculptural bee skeps – all made entirely from cocoa-derived products.
Shortly after judging, there was a moment of high drama, as Ruth’s chocolate showpiece collapsed in the heat of the arena. Ruth’s supporters in the audience were stunned into silence! But thankfully, the showpiece scores had already been submitted by the judges. Determined to make sure the UK had a showpiece on public display, Ruth worked late into the night to create a second showpiece, which was carefully moved to the gallery for public viewing – a move widely praised by all the judges.
Next up in the World Chocolate Masters competition: a gastronomic chocolate dessert. In this challenge, the judges are looking for a reflection of the competition theme, a minimum of four textures, and two temperatures.
Ruth’s chocolate dessert contained chocolate streusel, chocolate & lemon crèmeux (French for ‘creamy’), raspberry pain de Gênes (Genoa cake), lemon curd balls, milk chocolate ganache and crystallised flowers. The honeybee theme was carried through in the chocolate skep with its raspberry centre and delicate chocolate honeycomb decorations.
A dipped praline is a filling delicately enrobed in chocolate, rather than made with a chocolate mould. For this challenge in the World Chocolate Masters, contestants must make 50 dipped pralines with a minimum of two textured layers. The judges are looking for a balance of flavours and textures, a delicate outer chocolate coat, and a clean, professional finish.
Ruth’s gorgeous dipped praline was a fresh cherry pâte de fruit with a milk chocolate ganache and crunchy biscuit base, with a line of golden shimmer on the top. This tempting confection is available to buy online in Cocoa Black’s World Chocolate Masters Selection Box.
An entremet is a chocolate layered cake. They come in a variety of colours and shapes, and are distinguished by their mirror-smooth chocolate glaze. In this category, the judges are scoring for appearance, taste, texture and creativity.
Ruth’s delectable, fruity entremet has layers of chocolate mousse, prune sponge, plum jelly, plum crèmeux, and a biscuit base. ‘Clean layers, could be a winner, my favourite cake so far’– more praise from top French pastry chef and President of the Jury, Angelo Musa MOF.
For their next challenge in the World Chocolate Masters, candidates create a second, smaller chocolate showpiece reflecting the overall theme of the competition. Scores here are awarded for theme, creativity, originality, harmony and execution.
Once again, Ruth looked to her honeybee theme and created a chocolate homage to the English country garden, complete with chocolate flowers, honey drizzlers, and buzzing honey pots, on a base inspired by hexagonal bee geometry.
To make a moulded praline, tempered chocolate is poured into a mould to create a delicate chocolate shell. For the World Chocolate Masters, contestants must prepare 50 moulded pralines, each with a minimum of two different textures, including a ganache. The judges’ scores are based on taste, appearance, texture, creativity, and a clean finish.
Ruth’s moulded praline contains a citrus caramel with a sesame crunch finish and a pink peppercorn ganache, moulded in a 75% Tanzanian origin chocolate. To finish off this praline with a honeybee touch, Ruth developed a new technique to emulate a dusting of pollen.
Ruth’s citrus caramel crunchy confection is available to buy online in Cocoa Black’s World Chocolate Masters Selection Box.
I wanted to demonstrate that when it comes to chocolate and pastry, the UK can compete against the very best in the world.