Bake Off: The Professionals, Series 5, Episode 4: Accidental Chocolate Fertility Symbol

Where was this investigative journalism during the Platinum Jubilee?

It’s Week 4 and the second group of teams take to the kitchen to mostly giggle at the word “balls”.

In a trend that is threatening to derail this series like the 2020 series of Dancing On Ice, another team has fallen foul of illness, however Jemima and Zack do seem to be returning next week as per the preview of the next episode – let’s just hope it’s the last case of this happening.

Firing Mont Blancs

Much like the first round of the first heat, this group also start with the Mystery Challenge as Benoit and Cherish challenged them to make 36 individual Mont Blanc tarts with nothing but a vague description from Benoit and the hope that at some point in their careers they’ve come across a Mont Blanc. The Mont Blancs did then also have to be accompanied by a chocolate amenity that in some way represents the team.

As Benoit is want to do, he gravitated towards the one other French man in the room like Butes to the Sirens’ song and then needlessly put extra pressure on him because apparently all French pastry chefs are born with a precocial ability to make Mont Blanc tarts. Susie from The Apprentice was onto something when she pondered if the French were fond of their children – they’re actually a nidifugous people.
So with Antoine’s innate knowledge of the Mont Blanc tart they did manage to pretty perfectly capture what Benoit was after – which is to say: something that looks a bit like the Flying Spaghetti Monster

In SpagBol we trust.

They clearly had to rush in the end and so the all important Chestnut Vermicelli on the top wasn’t particularly even, but at least it was well made – the same could not be said for their meringue kisses that were generally lacking in everything and their tart cases could have done with a couple more minutes in the oven.
The judges did however enjoy their Chocolate Amenity that featured some stacked bowling balls to honour of their favourite past time: playing bowling in the world’s most aesthetically pleasing bowling alley in turtlenecks that make them look a bit like they might secretly work for MI5

I simply cannot fathom a bowling alley that doesn’t have a suspiciously stained arcade carpet and TV screens with weird low poly animations that look like they were made in the 80s.

Balls became a bit of a theme with the chocolate amenities – I can see why, a chocolate sphere always looks quite impressive and shows a good amount of skill and ability. However you do have to be careful with just how many balls you make and where you put them – enter Aline and Nina’s giant Brazilian phallus

and nothing brought me more joy than Stacey and Liam LOSING IT when Benoit asked what the balls meant to Aline and Nina

well, that’s a lie because the knowledge that Enrico is single and looking is pretty good news too


The accidental chocolate fertility symbol aside, Aline and Nina weren’t clawing back many points with their Mont Blanc Tarts – they seemed to be the most at a loss for quite what they were meant to be doing and even with Benoit specifying that the tarts had to be finished off with the Chestnut Vermicelli, the two of them somehow worked out a way to invert the meringue and the Vermicelli

however the more baffling decision was probably the choice to go for an Italian meringue despite the fact Benoit stomped around the kitchen like he was claiming the territory in the name of the French Republic. And so Aline and Nina were sent back to the room where Nina had to come to terms with the fact she had made a giant chocolate dick on national television

I wouldn’t worry *too much* because I really do think that Dinesh and Ben’s military totem was just as penisy

big fan of Benoit insisting that by looking at what is essentially a pile of chocolate debris painted to look a little bit moldy instantly reads as being army-related.

I do think the two of them certainly got the Mont Blanciest of the Mont Blancs – although their choice to make long sticks of meringue did make their tarts look a little it like they were being used as an ashtray

but Benoit was, by this point, just happy to have something that was vaguely cone-shaped.

Completely shunning spherical geometry for their amenity were I Shan and Jojo, who are quite frankly instantly iconic and we have no choice but to stan

in lieu of any balls, they were making a chocolate amenity that looked like a sunflower growing out of a single block of chocolate to show that they’re a very happy duo (and potentially part of a heliocentric cult)

I have to say, it’s an impeccably well finished chocolate sculpture and the judges rather liked the simple elegance of it – and Benoit was particularly fond of the slight curve. I shall make no comments.

Their tarts didn’t get quite so warm a reception with the judges both thinking they were just a touch too small

but they had at least managed to get the flavours of the Mont Blanc nailed down – falling just a bit short in a few details with the meringue not being crispy and their pastry cases being on the thick side.

Sara and Giovanni had also gone with a chocolate amenity inspired by nature – in their case it was the Chaos Elemental from Runescape

it was actually a tree but I think I would have appreciated them just swinging big and saying “on the purple team, we embrace chaos!” which isn’t untrue considering they had bedecked their Mont Blanc Tarts with meringue shards that could quite literally sink the Titanic

but Benoit couldn’t bring himself to be too critical because they had actually managed to give him the crispy French meringue that he was craving. They had, by quite a way, also seemed to make the best Mont Blanc tarts – both Cherish and Benoit couldn’t get enough of them.

A Mont Blanc Tart Ranking

  1. The Iceberg Tarts
  2. The Marlboro Sponsored Mont Blanc Tarts
  3. Very French, Much Tart
  4. I Shan and Jojo’s Colline Blanc Tarts
  5. Aline and Nina making choices.

A Trifle Threat

For their first Showpiece Challenge of the series the teams were tasked with making a 70cm tall display piece to showcase a dessert that reimagined the British Classic and constant source of disappointment: The Trifle. I just don’t know why you’d want a dessert that texturally feels like someone already ate it. Even ardent trifle fan, Stacey Solomon, has qualms with the pudding

so you don’t like trifle Stacey, you just like jelly and custard.

A big component of the challenge was managing to reimagine the trifle while still keeping it at least a little recognisable as a trifle to Benoit and Cherish – who were mostly just after a dessert that featured cream, sponge, custard and a jelly – a surprising amount of teams excluded at least one of those components. Keeping within the confines of the classic flavours certainly also payed off while most of the teams went tropical, Ben and Dinesh scored big by sticking with vanilla, almond and raspberry, it is after all what Dinesh is used to

It’s good to know the British army is powered entirely by Hartley’s Instant Jelly and Bird’s Tinned Custard.

They were at least fancying it up a little bit by infusing their custard with black cardamom

the actual desserts looked very good – there wasn’t much to their display piece it was very… well, military in its gunmetal sparseness, so much so the editors didn’t bother providing us with any full body shots of it.
The judges were sceptical of the use of Black Cardamom with Cherish just point blank threatening to spit it out, luckily no such thing happened and Cherish and Benoit quite happily ate the whole thing – but the biggest praise came from I Shan

we should all be constantly seeking her approval.

Sara and Giovanni were making more of a thing of their use of strawberries as a flavour by incorporating a pair of giant strawberries into their showpiece design that did look a bit like those Nerf torpedos

it was a shame that there was such a glaring repair job on them because one of their strawberries had begun to hatch and before the fragarian young could spill forth, they sealed it with whatever melted chocolate they could get their hands on.

For their trifles they had opted to make a pair of sharing desserts which did bear more than a slight passing resemblance to a Babybel

which wasn’t entirely disparate from their actual concept considering that their trifle desserts were encased in a layer of strawberry cheesecake, which Benoit wasn’t entirely convinced didn’t render it null and void as a trifle. He was however much more keen on their Port Wine Jelly – the only issue was the fact the whole dessert was a little bit over-set and their sponge was still frozen – but it did mean that the dessert still had a really good cut-through

I like a dessert with a strong stratification.

The other teams all went for more tropical flavours, which did in turn bring us The Obligatory Pina Colada Inspired Dessert™ from I Shan and Jojo, who were also delivering a second Bake Off: The Professionals trope with a showpiece designed to look like a tree, which they very impressively made out of both chocolate and sugar

even more impressive though was the fact they finished their entire showpiece with both time to spare and two extra desserts

so they had to while away the remaining minutes by just watching and applauding everyone else finishing like they were parents at a school sports day cheering on the child that’s finished 10 minutes after everyone else

Cherish and Benoit were a little taken aback that they had finished early and couldn’t even chastise them for it because everything was so well finished, but they did try to curb their enthusiasm by telling them not to get complacent. After 1 episode.

As beautiful as their mushroom-shaped desserts were, they didn’t quite reach the expectations of a trifle with them lacking any significant amount of sponge and just generally tasting too much like a pina colada. I thought they might have been given a little more praise for the fact they had draped jelly, I thought it was quite an interesting technique and certainly differentiated them from everyone else. But even with the critiques, Antoine was very impressed by I Shan and Jojo

Enrico? Not so much…


It probably didn’t help that Enrico and Antoine were also going for a tree themed showpiece – not even Benoit’s shared French kinship could hide his lack of enthusiasm for the concept

this show is making Benoit Blin actively root for deforestation, he’s one chocolate tree trunk away from wiping out the orangutan population himself.

Their showpiece certainly hadn’t reached quite the same level of polish as I Shan and Jojo’s, however I thought the painting of their pineapple was really good even if it did look like it was appearing through a portal to an Eldritch realm

as for their desserts, they had gone for banana and coconut as their primary flavours and then shaped them like coconuts, which is to say they were just brown balls

they could have done with a little bit of finessing to make them look a little less like snooker balls but I did once order a dessert in a very fancy Austrian hotel that was designed to look like a potato. They of course had a similar issue to I Shan and Jojo in that Benoit and Cherish weren’t getting particularly strong trifle vibes from it – but their opinion barely matters because they got the seal of approval from I Shan and Jojo

mark my words, by episode 7 there’s going to be a mutiny and the two of them will be the judges.

Aline and Nina were continuing their championing of Brazil, this time with 100% less accidental penises. Their stand out component was a lime genoise which was soaked in Cachaca, a Brazilian spirit made from fermented sugarcane juice. Given how unique and interesting their flavours were and how obviously personal their whole theme was to them, it was a shame that they hadn’t managed to get around to finishing off their trifle desserts which were meant to be painted yellow

and unfortunately the chocolate mousse hadn’t correctly emulsified and was quite gritty because someone had clearly forgotten to say their penance

The Father, The Son and The Soggy Sponge

But the general idea of their dessert was good, even if I wouldn’t ever really associate chocolate with a trifle.

A Reimagined Dessert Ranking

  1. The Military Trifle
  2. The Babybel Illusion Cake
  3. The Obligatory Pina Colada Inspired Dessert
  4. The Snooker Ball Production Line
  5. Come to Brazil!

There wasn’t a great deal of suspense as to who was going home, this lot are all pretty strong contenders for the final and so with Aline and Nina not having particularly successful rounds, it was pretty obvious that they would be sent home

I appreciate what they brought to the competition, it was a perspective that we don’t tend to see a lot and I hope they take the time to develop their Chocolate and Cachaca dessert because it sounded like it could be quite divine.

and so, we’re down another team of chefs

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