The Sweet Week Ingredient That Was Completely Forbidden On ‘MasterChef’
It was a cruel twist that nobody saw coming.
The final challenge of Sweet Week meant a spot in the top 10 was tantalisingly close for Tati, Derek, Anushka, Simon and Sandeep -- if only they could make it through another round in a daunting black apron cook.
But after spending the night before researching recipes for sugary custards and ice-creams, pastries and cakes -- the judges wickedly revealed that they had something a little different in mind.
After sugar-shaming us all with the physical amounts of the sweet white granules we consume in a week, month and year -- Matt Preston delivered the bad news.
"We want you to bring us a sweet dish but all other processed sugar, all other added sugars -- they're banned, they're out, you can't use them," he said.
Friends, sugar had been cancelled and not everyone was happy about it.
"Last night I committed to memory about 15 different sweet recipes and they've all got some element of sugar in them, it's all just out the window," Derek laughed maniacally.
In a daze, he ran straight to the sugar section of the 'MasterChef' pantry, perhaps by habit, perhaps to mourn the saccharine flavours that would be missing from his dessert.
While the sugars found in fruits and vegetables were deemed permissible to use -- the contestants quickly discovered that refined sugar has worked its way into EVERYTHING.
"Has this got sugar in it?" Tati asked George, holding up a small bottle of pandan extract, a popular ingredient in Southeast Asian desserts.
George gave the pandan a big red sugar flag and Tati sadly placed it back on the shelf.
What about verjuice? Surely, the ingredient so loved by Australia's favourite cook, Maggie Beer, would be safe to use in the sugar-free cook?
"Nup! It's got sugar in it," sugar lord George informed Anushka.
The contestants went on to make some very inventive dishes -- the sort of treats you whip up when you're craving a sugar hit but can only find bananas and cocoa powder in the cupboard.
Derek opted for a breakfast panna cotta with honey-sweetened granola, Sandeep went for rice pudding, Tati served up sticky rice in a hollowed-out pineapple, Anushka made some clever ladyfingers with orange and grapefruit cream, and Simon harnessed the natural sugar of figs and beetroot.
Sandeep was ultimately sent home after his kheer was deemed a little too saffron heavy and his puri undercooked.
It was a sobering lesson to remember we shouldn't rely too heavily on refined sugar because one day, someone named George may completely ban you from using it.
When you consider that Australians are, on average, consuming 60 grams of refined sugar a day -- they're also recipes that we should think about whipping out every now and again.
Breakfast panna cotta? Don't mind if we do!