Sunday, 8 July 2012

Molten Chocolate Fondants

I need you to use some imagination here. First, conjure up a soundtrack of euro trance music, artfully punctuated with perfectly timed chopping, slicing and dicing. Maybe add in a few tears, and some pathetic whimpering about how much this all means to you. Position a tall Aussie and a tubby baldie at the edge of the picture, making incredulous, eyebrow-raised faces at each other and talking about playdzafoo. Tempted to scatter a supercilious restaurant critic on top? Sure, why not?

Then it's time for the voiceover. Cooking Doesn't Get Tougher Than This. Are you in the zone? Are you ready? Today we're talking about the Masterchef monster, the horror of hapless contestants and the nemesis of the numpties. That's right. Molten chocolate fondants.

To be honest, I have no idea where this reputation comes from. Maybe in a hot studio, with stress and lights and bloody "sexy bored voice" woman salivating over your every move, fondants might have a tendency to misbehave - but at home, they're a piece of cake. See that pun? That's how easy. They're my dinner party pudding of choice, that's how easy. Those Masterchef morons are just making a big fuss over nothing.

I can't remember where we got this recipe but we've made it countless times over the last few years and it's never let us down. Incredibly rich, thick and decadent, the melting middle is all a matter of timing - which means that as long as you can set an alarm, you'll be fine. You can prepare them up to two days in advance, just keeping them unbaked in the fridge until you want them, and all you need to go with is some vanilla ice cream. 

Just perfect for a weeknight dinner with friends (after courgette and chilli pasta), or a Friday night treat to kick off your weekend. You don't even have to share them with John and Gregg, if you don't want to. Although, let's be honest, I'm fairly sure Gregg would want to give them a big, sloppy kiss on the lips and dive right in. The rest of us will probably manage just fine with a spoon.

Molten chocolate fondants
I think the recipe is originally from Nigella, but we copied it out so long ago that I can't remember. Seems like her style, though, doesn't it?
Serves 6

- 50g soft unsalted butter
- 350g dark chocolate
- 150g caster sugar
- 4 large eggs, beaten with a pinch of salt
- a teaspoon of vanilla extract 
- 50g plain flour

Start by wiping the insides of 6 ramekins with butter, then dusting with cocoa. This is meant to ensure that the fondants will emerge unscathed at the other end - and, I'll be honest, it doesn't always work. But you might as well try, eh?

Melt the chocolate in the microwave, going slowly - 15 seconds at a time. Then set aside and let cool slightly.

Beat together the butter and sugar until well combined, then gradually add the beaten egg, mixing well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla, then add the flour and mix until smooth.

Pour in the cooled chocolate and blend well until it all looks uniform and tastes delicious. Then dollop into the ramekins, sharing it out evenly.

If you want to eat these straight away, preheat the oven to 200C and bake for 10 minutes. If not, cover the ramekins with cling film and store in the fridge until you want them - they'll keep for a couple of days. Bake for 12 minutes if you're putting them in straight from the fridge.

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