[The ultimate chocolate fondant]
In London, we’ve had winter in July. Air damp with rain. Kitchens warm with soup on the stove. Oven smelling like chocolate cake.
And now, in the south of France, we’re having summer in September. Walks through the markets. Sirops d’orgeat at the terrace of the village café. Afternoons at the beach. Ice-cream, in a cone, please. Flip-flops at the feet. Deep-fried is a must, especially when it involves fleurs de courgettes. Watermelon; full-stop.
It seems that whenever I come down here it’s summer. A summer of the out-of-season kind.
It also seems that whenever I’m down here, I always return to the same cake. A cake of the homecoming kind.
It certainly is my go-to. Because, let’s be honest, we all need one.
One we make on Mondays. One we slice when still warm and slightly runny for a late afternoon indulgence. One we have for breakfast – the day after – cold from the fridge and dipped into the latte we overlooked as we were flipping through the pages of the newspaper. One we finish on Wednesdays after a dinner made of crusty baguette with a side of sliced tomatoes in their juices; perhaps with a scoop of yoghurt ice-cream.
This cake is dark and dense. The very definition of a fondant.
And since we’re at it, I shall let you know that what we – French – call fondant is somehow different to the fondants I’ve been known to bake à la minute for the restaurant.
In fact, if you’re thinking about small little cakes with a melted chocolate centre, we call them coulants in good old France.
So please, mind your French, will you 😉
Fondant au chocolat
Adapted from Pascal Lac.
I’ve told you about this cake before. It is, as I’ve mentioned above, a keeper. If you’re after a moist chocolate cake, then this is the one.
Plus, it’s damn easy to make. Just chocolate, butter, eggs, sugar, and flour.
Oh yes, ok, eight eggs and four hundred grams of sugar. Just forget about this and bake it in a 28cm pan for thinner wedges.
It is worth it!
When it comes to the chocolate, I like to use a slightly bitter, most possibly 70%. And I have to admit Valrhona Guanaja is especially great for cakes of all kinds.
The only tricky – and when I say tricky, I mean very merely – step is to bring the eggs and sugar mixture to room temperature-ish over the heat.
You can either do it straight over the gas, making sure to mix at all time while turning the bowl to ensure heat distribution. Or do it over a water-bath (which should not stop you from mixing and turning the bowl!).
This step is done, as we say in French, to casser le froid [break the coldness]. And it will incorporate a little air in the eggs.
Fondant au chocolat
Makes one 24 to 28cm cake.
200g dark chocolate
Preheat the oven to 170°C, and generously butter a 24 to 28 cm springform pan.
In a bowl, melt the chocolate and butter.
In a heatproof bowl, mix the eggs and sugar – using a whisk – and place over medium heat (or as said above, on a water bath). Keep on mixing until not cold anymore. It shouldn’t be hot either.
Pour the chocolate over the egg mixture, and mix to homogenise. Sprinkle the flour over and using a rubber spatula, gently incorporate it until just smooth.
Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 30 to 40 minutes (if you’re using a smaller tin) until just set.