Easy and difficult. The perfect fondant is that mix between melted chocolate, bitterness and the sweet cake like outside. The recipe is very simple, the cooking simple, but to get them absolutely right it is all about timing. 10-12 minutes is about right for me, my home oven, set to 180C with fan and 11 minutes works. But it is what works for you. When I first tried, I undercooked it a little and when I transferred it onto the plate it all leaked out like chocolate sauce. If you leave them too long you just end up with hot chocolate cake, good but definitely not a fondant. The fondant can be prepared in advance and must be cooked at the last minute.
Ingredients for 4
1 large bar of dark chocolate (70% at least) 100g
2 tbl caster sugar
1/3 rd pack of unsalted butter (80g)
2 eggs and one egg yolk
1 tbl plain flour
Prep. The perfect fondant is cooked in a small ring, lined with baking parchment and baked on a tray with silicon liner. For the less adventurous the ramekin provides the same result without the same level of theatre. 25 minutes before serving heat the oven to 180C fan, 190C without. If using ramekins put 4 of them on a tray. If cooking rings get 4 small ones, 5 or 6 cm in diameter and at least 5cm high. Get a small piece of baking parchment, just taller than the ring and ensure it goes all the way around inside. Put a piece of silicon baking liner on a baking tray, put on the rings lined with baking parchment and put it all in the freezer. This helps to ensure the mixture doesn’t leak out the bottom.
Make the mixture. Heat the chocolate and butter in a bain marie very gently. Whilst it is melting break the eggs and put it with the sugar into a bowl. Mix well. Once melted let the chocolate butter mixture cool a little. Add to the eggs and sugar. Add the flour and incorporate fully without any lumps. Don’t over mix just get rid of the lumps. I find a whisk works best with two vigorous turns. That is the mixture made. If using ramekins you can just pour it in. If using rings then you needs to let it set a little, so put it in the fridge for half an hour. Take the mixture out of the fridge, it should be thicker, but still pour. Get the tray out of the freezer and divide the mixture evenly into the 4 rings. Put it back into the fridge for at least half an hour before cooking, ramekins or rings.
Cooking. This stage takes 12 minutes. So have serving plates ready. Put the rings/ramekins in the oven. For your first go, cook for 12 minutes. You want a liquid centre and an outside that is just strong enough to support it. With a fish knife pick up each fondant in the ring and put it onto a plate. Using oven gloves take off the ring and carefully peel off the parchment. They should stand by themselves. Serve with a little clotted cream. Think how they came out of the oven, whether you wanted them more or less cooked and adjust accordingly next time. I have been to a Michelin starred restaurant and their pastry oven was broken. An oven that is an exact temperature every time and they were not willing to cook them in a normal oven. So even the best find it tricky to get this right.