Planning a three course meal is my idea of heaven. Well, that and eating a three course meal. It’s great fun scouring recipe books for ideas, treading that line between tried-and-tested and new and adventurous, thinking what will fit well together. For dessert, this is always the strongest contender. It’s showy and special, but surprisingly easy to make. More importantly, it can be made a day ahead – anyone who has prepared a big meal knows what a big bonus that is.
Truthfully I was in two minds about sharing this recipe. I almost didn’t want people to know how easy it is to make a really impressive dessert – especially not people I’ve made it for! It’s one of those desserts that I was always scared to make, sure I could not possibly get it right. Even now I still get terribly nervous as it’s baking and am sure it will be a dry failure of a pudding – but that just makes it all the more special when the thick chocolate goo comes oozing out.
And look: this is how happy I am when I eat chocolate fondant. Expect similar levels of delight from your dinner guests.
Gordon Ramsay recipe, makes 9
50g melted butter
cocoa powder, for dusting
200g dark chocolate, broken into small pieces
200g butter, chopped into small cubes
200g golden caster sugar
4 eggs and 4 yolks
200g plain flour
1. Melt the butter in a pan. Brush it liberally inside 9 ramekins, then transfer them to the freezer (or fridge) for about 10 minutes until chilled.
2. Brush one chilled ramekin with more melted butter, then put a spoonful of cocoa powder inside and turn the ramekin to coat it completely. Tip out the excess. Repeat with the remaining ramekins.
3. Put the dark chocolate and butter into a glass bowl and place over a pan of barely simmering water until melted. Stir together well and set aside for 10 minutes to cool.
4. Meanwhile, whisk together the eggs, yolks and sugar until they form a thick, pale yellow mixture and the electric whisk starts leaving a little trail as you whiz around the bowl.
5. Sieve the flower into the egg mixture and beat well.
6. Pour in the chocolate mixture a third at a time, beating well after each addition. You should end up with a gloriously dark, thick, gloopy batter.
7. Carefully pour the batter into the prepared ramekins – this is easiest if you transfer the batter to a jug first. If you do spill any batter around the tops of the ramekins, make sure to wipe it off.
8. Cover the fondants with clingfilm and chill in the fridge overnight (or at least a few hours).
9. When you are ready to serve them, preheat the oven to 200C, remove the clingfilm and place the ramekins on a baking tray. Bake for 10-12 minutes. When they are ready, the top should look slightly crusty and firm around the edges, which should be slightly pulled away from the ramekin, but still with a slightly softer, gooier centre spot – rather like a brownie. (Unfortunately, I have no photos of this stage – I’m usual in too great a state of panic!)
10. Let them stand for 1 minute, then ever so gently, tip the fondant out of the ramekin upside down and straight onto your serving dish. Serve up with caramel sauce or vanilla icecream, and savour that heavenly moment when the chocolate oozes out. Amazing.