Raymond Blanc Chocolate Fondant
This is a dessert close to my heart, which has been adapted by many chefs all over the world. As I watched my mother making chocolate mousse in her kitchen, some splashed onto the hob and I noticed it had formed a crust, but was still molten on the inside. This sent me on many trials to perfect the chocolate fondant as we know it today. There are two stages to cooking the fondant. The first creates a crust around the liquid chocolate; the second completes the cooking of the fondant, leaving you that delectable, melting centre.
20–30 mins, plus at least 1 hour chilling
Six 4cm fondant rings (5cm high)
The caramel centre, if required, needs to be prepared the day before to allow it time to set. You can also make the fondant a day in advance and do the first stage of cooking.
For the fondant:
80g good-quality dark chocolate (70 per cent cocoa solids), chopped
80g unsalted butter
2 organic/free-range medium eggs, plus 1 egg yolk
45g icing sugar, sifted, plus extra to dust
16g arrowroot, sifted
For lining the moulds:
15g unsalted butter, softened
15g caster sugar
15g cocoa powder
For the caramel centre (optional):
200ml double cream
25ml liquid glucose
15g muscovado sugar
60g caster sugar
pinch of sea salt
½ tsp lime juice
For the chocolate sauce and pistachio garnish:
2 tbsp milk
90ml whipping cream
80g dark chocolate (70 per cent cocoa solids), chopped
100g pistachio nuts, roughly chopped
To make the caramel centre (optional):
If you decide to do so, you will need to prepare this a day ahead.
In a medium saucepan over a medium-low heat, bring the cream, liquid glucose(*1) and muscovado sugar slowly to the boil, dissolving the sugar.
In a separate small saucepan, cook the caster sugar to a light brown caramel.
Add the cream mixture to the caramel, bring to the boil and cook to 102°C, as registered on a sugar thermometer. Remove from the heat, add the salt and lime juice(*2) and leave to cool. Pour into 20g moulds and freeze overnight.
To make the fondant:
Melt the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water(*3). Using an electric mixer, whisk the eggs, egg yolk and icing sugar together on low speed for 1 minute to begin with and then on full speed for 2 minutes(*4) until light and aerated. Now reduce the mixer speed to low and incorporate the melted chocolate and butter mixture.
Add the arrowroot(*5) and whisk to distribute evenly and emulsify.
To prepare the moulds:
Brush the inside of the fondant rings with softened butter.
Mix the caster sugar and cocoa together and use to coat the inside of the rings.
Stand them on a tray lined with non-stick baking paper. Pour the fondant into the moulds to three-quarters fill them. Press a caramel insert, if prepared, into the middle of each and smooth the fondant over the top. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, up to a day.
For the first cooking stage preheat the oven to 230°C/Gas 8. Bake the fondants for 7 minutes until the top has just formed a crust(*6). At this stage they will be fragile as the centre will be liquid chocolate. Leave to cool for 2 minutes.
Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
To make the chocolate sauce:
In a medium saucepan, bring the milk and cream to the boil, then take off the heat and stir in the chocolate. Continue to stir until melted and you have a smooth chocolate sauce.
For the second cooking stage and to serve lower the oven temperature to 180°C/Gas 4. Reheat the fondants for 8 minutes precisely – they will be plump and crusty on the outside and full of liquid chocolate and caramel, if used, on the inside. Place a fondant in the middle of each plate, carefully ease off the ring(*7) and dust with icing sugar. Pour the chocolate sauce around and scatter over the crushed pistachios. Serve at once.
Replace the caramel centres with cherry ganache. Bring 200ml milk, 65ml water and 42g liquid glucose to the boil. Take off the heat and stir in 240g chopped plain chocolate (66 per cent cocoa solids) to melt. Add 70g chopped griottine cherries (Morello cherries macerated in kirsch). Freeze in 20g moulds.
*1 The density of the glucose will give a smoother texture, with only half the sweetness of sugar. You can buy liquid glucose in most good supermarkets.
*2 Both lime and salt are catalysts of flavours and will lift the flavour beautifully.
*3 To avoid overheating, make sure the bottom of the bowl is not in direct contact with the simmering water. At 90°–95°C cocoa solids begin to solidify and grain.
*4 Start off whisking slowly to mix the ingredients and progress to full speed. If you start on full speed you will create a cloud of icing sugar.
*5 Arrowroot is an edible starch, which helps to stabilise the mixture. It is much finer than flour and has better binding qualities.
*6 This par-baking of the fondants will give you a lovely crust on the outside. The fondants will also be easier to finish and serve – less stress on the day!
*7 Ensure you remove the metal rings as soon as they are cool enough to touch. There will be enough residual heat in the rings to overcook the fondants.