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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Baker's Corner: Chocolate Fondant

Chocolate Fondant is a popular dessert that combines the elements of a flourless chocolate cake and a soufflé. Some other names used are molten chocolate cake, chocolate moelleux and chocolate lava cake.

The first time I saw a chocolate fondant being prepared was by a contestant on the UK version of the popular TV show MasterChef, a few years ago. With raised eyebrows, the judges of the show, John Torode and Gregg Wallace intimidated the contestant with the ominous prediction that the outcome could be disastrous if the fondants were either over or under cooked. True to its notorious reputation, the fondant has been the downfall of many a MasterChef hopeful. So, that being said, I've always wanted to prepare this dessert to see how I would fare!

I attempted the chocolate fondant for the very first time recently when I hosted a dinner party at home for a gang of six girlfriends. This is a sophisticated dessert and has the 'wow' factor when done right so I thought that if I succeeded, I would get a collective pat on the back but suppose I didn't, it wouldn't be so terrible because I believed my friends wouldn't judge me! Come to think of it, I even had the option of telling them that it was a chocolate cake! *chuckles*

I got hold of several recipes and finally settled on Gordon Ramsay's recipe for Chocolate Fondant. Among all the recipes that I studied, the flour content in this recipe is slightly higher than the others but I was drawn in by the ratings and rave reviews. I didn't have time to do a practice batch so I just prayed that on the day of the dinner party, my efforts wouldn't go in vain! Cut to the chase, the day of the party, the center of the cake was indeed gooey and the overall taste was rich and chocolatey. In the end, even though I overcooked my fondants by a measly minute (darn!), my first attempt at a Chocolate Fondant was still a success so, as the Brits would say, I'm mighty chuffed! 

In the words of Gordon Ramsay - Gooey Chocolate Fondant with powdered sugar and fresh berries ....DONE! :)




Preparation time: 45 mins plus chilling
Baking time: 10-12 mins
Makes: 9 fondants
Recipe Level: Moderately easy
Source: Adapted from here

Ingredients:

50g melted butter, for brushing the moulds
Cocoa powder, for dusting
200g good-quality dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces (I used 70% Lindt Chocolate)
200g butter, chopped into small pieces
200g golden caster sugar
4 eggs and 4 yolks
200g plain flour, sifted
Serving suggestions
Fresh strawberries/raspberries, vanilla ice cream, caramel sauce or orange sorbet

Materials needed:

9 aluminum muffin tins (~150ml volume) but ramekins work just as well. Alternatively, for smaller portion size, you could use 12-13 smaller moulds (~100ml volume)
A pastry brush
A spatula for folding the cake mixture
A large heatproof bowl to melt the chocolate & butter
A large saucepan to boil water
A manual or electric whisk

The aluminum tins that I used

Method:

1. First get your moulds ready - Using upward strokes, heavily brush the melted butter all over the inside of the pudding mould. Place the mould in the fridge or freezer for 20-30 min. Brush more melted butter over the chilled butter, then add a good spoonful of cocoa powder into the mould. Tip the mould so the powder completely coats the butter. Tap any excess cocoa back into the jar, then repeat with the next mould. Alternatively you can butter and line the tins with parchment paper. Put the prepped moulds back in the fridge for atleast 20 min.
2. Place a bowl over a pan of barely simmering water, then slowly melt the chocolate and butter together (the bottom of the bowl should not come in contact with the water). Remove bowl from the heat and stir until smooth. Leave to cool for about 10 min.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and yolks together with the sugar until thick and pale and the whisk leaves a trail; use an electric whisk if you want.
4. Now pour the melted chocolate into the eggs slowly and using a spatula, gently fold together until just combined.
5. Add the sifted flour into the egg mixture in thirds, mixing between each addition, until all the flour is incorporated and the mixture is completely combined to form a loose cake batter.
6. Divide the fondant batter between the moulds filling up to 3/4th of the moulds. Chill for at least 20 mins or up to the night before. The fondants can also be frozen for up to a month and cooked from frozen (to bake from frozen, simply carry on as stated, adding 5 mins more to the cooking time).
7. Heat oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Place the fondants on a baking tray, then cook for 10-12 mins until the tops have formed a crust and they are starting to come away from the sides of their moulds. You will see that the pudding rises slightly, is cooked on the outside but is still soft in the center. For the muffin tins, 10 mins in the oven should be ideal (I kept mine in the oven for 11 min and later discovered that they were overdone by a minute). Remove from the oven, then leave to sit for 1-2 min before turning out.
8. Loosen the fondants by moving the tops very gently so they come away from the sides, easing them out of the moulds. Tip each fondant slightly onto your hand so you know it has come away, then tip back into the mould ready to plate up.
9. Sit a fondant in the middle of each plate. Dust with powdered sugar (if desired). 
10. Using a large spoon dipped in hot water, scoop a quenelle of vanilla bean ice cream on the side. Decorate with fresh berries and dazzle your audience!


Notes:
  • The prepping of the moulds is an important step so don't skip it. It would be such a shame if after all that effort, the fondants don't slide out in one piece!
  • There is some trial and error involved in making this dessert so it is advisable to make a practice batch so that you know which kind of moulds work best and exactly how long you need to keep them in the oven.
  • The fan setting in your oven helps to distribute the heat evenly which is important when baking fondants.
  • You may go higher than 70% dark chocolate but I personally feel that the 70% works perfectly. Whatever floats your boat! However keep in mind that milk chocolate is an absolute no-no.
  • Once you have mastered the fondants it's very easy to adapt their flavour. For a boozy version add a generous splash of Baileys to the melted chocolate. You can also make a chocolate and orange version by adding the finely grated zest of 1 large orange and an optional splash of orange liqueur.

3 comments:

  1. Hi! I’m new follower of your blog and would like to invite you to join me at my weekly Clever Chicks Blog Hop:

    http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2013/03/clever-chicks-blog-hop-24-and-three.html



    I hope you can make it!



    Cheers,

    Kathy Shea Mormino

    The Chicken Chick

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oh yum, what a delicious looking cake!

    ReplyDelete

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