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MasterChef quarter-finalist Hannah Gregory talks drunk elephants, spoiled brats, special bonds and a flavour of Africa




Amarula has a very special place in my heart. For those who are not acquainted with this delicious, creamy liqueur – it is sort of like Baileys, but not really as it’s about one million times better. It hails from South Africa and is made from the fruit of the Marula tree – often called the elephant tree as the heffalumps have a particular love of this fruit and are often found stumbling around when they’ve eaten too much of the fermented fruit. I have witnessed first hand a drunk elephant – it’s fantastic.

At the tender age of 17 I made my first trip to the land of braiis and buckees, my school was so fed up with me they told me I could only return to do my A-levels if I spent my summer volunteering at an orphanage to get some perspective and sort my appalling attitude out. It worked. And it was the best thing that ever came out of being a vile teenager, because without that wake-up call I may never have fallen head over heels in love with Africa, resulting in many further trips and a desire to move there. But more importantly, I fear without that trip, I would have followed a downward spiral into entitled spoilt brat and never really grasped what happens outside of our privileged world.

I digress, back to the booze. It was on this trip that I discovered this drink. Not in a ‘lads on tour, underage drinking’ way but at the end of our trip we were taken out for a farewell meal and our host insisted we all try the drink and raise a toast, shouting ‘Amaroooooooooooola’ as we clinked our glasses.

Amarula Pannacotta (43658733)
Amarula Pannacotta (43658733)

My alcohol taste preferences prior to this were strictly Smirnoff Ice and WKD Blue so you can imagine how classy I felt being offered this exotic liqueur. . . in an actual glass. . . with ice. Not only did the drink taste delicious but it signified something so special – a bond forged with a group of people who had just spent two months doing something important, connecting with kids that had no one else in the world. We witnessed death, abandonment, sickness but we also witnessed kids finding forever homes, overcoming disease and despite everything they had been through – the most unthinkable of scenarios – they continued to smile and act with grace and positivity.

I learnt more about humanity on that trip than I could ever imagine.

And so, I always have a bottle of Amarula in stock because just seeing the bottle reminds me of both the happiest and saddest of times and reminds me to take a reality check every once in a while.

To create a recipe that showcases this tipple makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside. I have played around with the measurements so the hit of booze is balanced perfectly with the creaminess – not too harsh but not washed away either. It’s a very simple recipe to make, perfect for dinner parties as it needs to be made in advance, but can then be forgotten about. My mission in life is to ensure everyone I have met has tried this drink, be it in liquid or solid form, so I truly hope you give it a whirl and love it as much as I do. Extra points if you shout ‘Amarooooooooooooola’ at some point during the cooking/eating process.

AMARULA PANNACOTTA

Serves 6

Tipple of choice - Amarula obvs

Ingredients:

4 gelatine leaves

300ml of full fat milk

20g caster sugar

300ml double cream

150ml Amarula

Gold candy to decorate (optional)

Method:

Bloom the gelatine sheets in cold water for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile pour the milk, cream and sugar into a saucepan and bring to just scolding - the surface should begin to pucker and steam will rise from the top. Stir occasionally to ensure the sugar dissolves.

Take off the heat and stir in the Amarula.

Remove the gelatine from the water and wring out all excess water, whisk into the pannacotta mix.

Pour the mix into pudding mould and pop into the fridge to set for at least 6 hours.

When ready to serve, turn the pudding moulds onto plates and warm with a cook’s blow torch to release the pannacotta. Alternatively, sit the moulds in a bowl of hot water for a few minutes.

Decorate with gold glitz or any other boujee decorations you see fit.

Find out about Hannah’s upcoming Supper Clubs and what she is currently cooking via Instagram: @WanderSups wandersups.com