The weather was beautiful on Sunday, and instead of getting the tractor down to the farm house, we laced up our walking boots and walked down the bumpy path. On our walk we were able to see the beautiful views around River Cottage HQ, valleys and fields and also a lovely heard of Ruby cows. Their thick coats allowed them to survive the, not always desirable, Devon weather.
To start the day off on Sunday we were given fresh scones and coffee. The coffee really hit the spot, however it was a bit early for me to be eating rich scones, especially with the very tempting cream they provided too.
All weekend I had been craving something chocolatey, so when I saw the chocolate nibs and cocoa powder on the work bench I was very eager to find out what our next dish was. It did not disappoint, we were told we were making chocolate fondants.
I believed chocolate fondants, a rich chocolate cake with a molten gooey centre, were only for the experienced chef, as I have seen many fail to re-create this pud on TV. In reality though, the recipe was relatively simple, it was the timing you had to get perfect.
We started off by melting our 83% chocolate nibs and butter over a pan on the hob. We actually used the pan that we were cooking our pork stew in at the time… but that recipe is for another day.
The measurements for the ingredients were really simple, equal parts: sugar, butter, chocolate and flour and then one whole egg and one extra egg yolk.
Whilst the chocolate and butter melted over the stove we prepped our dariole moulds for our fondants. Using my fingers, I covered the inside walls of the mould with a healthy helping of butter. This butter allowed me to then coat the inside with cocoa powder which acted like a shell around the fondant and meant the cake mix didn’t get stuck to the metal casing. Tipping out the remaining cocoa powder I then put the mould into the fridge to set a little.
Back to the rest of my ingredients…
With an electric whisk I mixed the sugar and eggs together until creating a light, thick yellow cream. This took a few minutes, and after all the pastry rolling the day before, my arm did feel the strain.
Once the chocolate had fully melted I then combined both the chocolate mix, sugar and eggs. Using a plastic spatula, I folded the chocolate and butter in, making sure I didn’t beat any of the air out.
Lastly, I sieved the flour over my mixture, and once again folded this in. It is important to keep all of the air in the mix, so it remains fluffy when baked. The gooey chocolatey mix was then poured into my chilled dariole.
Now, the important part, the cooking! This was like an army mission, regimented to allow the fondants to be cooked perfectly, leaving that gooey centre encased in the cakey shell. On a count of three it was ovens open, cake in, ovens shut. Everyone in the class did this at the same time so it was easier to control the cooking time, there was some slight faffing, but eventually they were all in.
The cooking time was about 10 minutes, however we were told that it really varies depending on your oven, so at home it has to be a bit of trial and error before you find the perfect time/temp.
The timer went off and it was time to quickly remove the (hopefully) gooey centred fondant from the top shelf of the oven. This is the point where I sadly partly fluffed mine up! As I ran the knife around the fondant inside the casing, removing any stuck bits from the metal, I (not so carefully) cut into my fondant. This meant, that when it was plated, I didn’t quite get the big reveal of cutting it open and having the molten middle escaping, because mine was already escaping.
Nonetheless, it was molten and gooey, and if I had been slightly more delicate, it would’ve come out perfect. Luckily Mum’s came out faultless, so some of the pics I have taken are of her pudding and not my own!
The fondant was served with a scoop of frozen yoghurt; I personally think a big scoop of chocolate ice-cream would’ve made it even better. You can’t argue with chocolate on chocolate! The fondant was rich and creamy, sweet and a little bitter from the chocolate nibs, it was perfect!!
Both desserts we made were a lot more manageable than I had initially anticipated, and once I have got my hands on some metal moulds I will be firing them out left right and centre. Fondant anyone?