Chocolate Fondants

From Jacques Torres' Dessert Circus,
published by William Morrow

This is one of the most requested dessert at Le Cirque. Once you have tasted it, you will know why it is a chocolate lovers fantasy. Although it is often compared to a flourless chocolate cake, it is really a cross between a chocolate mouse and a chocolate souffle'. To make them even more decadent, I cover the baked fondants with chocolate sauce and decorate them with candied orange or grapefruit peels. Since the peels and sauce take a while to make, you may want to prepare them a day in advance.

It is very important to use the best quality chocolate for this recipe. I like to use Callebaut from Belgium. Fondants can be prepared in about 30 minutes. Make a double batch, and keep half of them in the freezer for a tasty last minute treat.

Chocolate Fondants

  • 1 cup + 2 1/2 tbsp of cubed, unsalted butter.
  • 500 grams of bittersweet chocolate, chopped.
  • 1/3 cup of unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder.
  • Pinch of salt.
  • 8 lage white eggs.
  • Meringue powder (optional)
  • 1/2 cup of granulated sugar

    For the Garnish:
  • Heavy cream, whipped to stiff peaks
  • Candied orange, or grapfruit peels
  • Chocolate sauce

    Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Farenheit (200 C.) Use a pastry brush to evenly coat the inside of 14 individual 3 ounce molds (I use disposable aluminum molds) with softened butter. Fill each mold with granulated sugar; then pourout the excess. If you have properly buttered the molds, the sugar will stick to the sides and bottoms of them. The butter and sugar will keep the Fondants from sticking to the sides of the molds and allow them to rise evenly. The sugar will also give the Fondants a crunchy crust, which I think makes a great contrast to the soft interior. It will be easier to move the molds in and out of the oven if you place them on a baking sheet.

    Prepare the Fondants: Melt the butter in a 2 quart heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium high heat. Remove from heat. Add the chopped chocolate, cocoa powder, and salt and stir until well combined and all the chocolate has melted. The cocoa powder and salt accentuate the taste of the chocolate.

    Place the egg whites in a large mixing bowl and whip with an electric mixer on medium speed until foamy. If using the meringue powder, combine it with the sugar in a small bowl. The meringue powder contains a high quality of albumin, which will add strength and allow for a stiffer meringue. Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and make a French meringue by adding the sugar mixture , or the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time and whipping the egg whites stiff but not dry peaks.

    Gently but quickly fold the warm chocolate mixure into the meringue until combined. Be careful not to deflate the mixture, or your baked Fondants will be flat and heavy. The mixture should be homogenous in color. However, if you can still see streaks of meringue in it, that's okay.

    Place the batter in a large pastry bag with a large opening (no tip). Th epastry bag will be easier to handle if you fill it only half-full; you will probably need to refill the bag two or three times to use all of the bat ter. Pipe the molds three quarters full with batter. (At this stage, the molded Fondants can be stored in the freezer for up to 2 weeks, well wrapped in plastic wrap. Thaw in the refrigerator for 2 hours before baking.)

    Bake the Fondants until they have risen about 1/2 inch over the top of the mold, 7 to 10 minutes.

    Meanwhile, place the whipped cream in a pastry bag fitted with a star tip and pipe rosettes onto each serving plate. Garnish with candied orange or grapefruit peels. Remove the Fondants from the oven and immediately invert each one over the center of a plate. Lightly tap the bottom and shake slightly to allow the Fondant to gently drop from the mold. Cover the Fondats with the chocolate sauce and serve3. When you cut into the Fondants, the center should still be somewhat liquid.

    Variation: Sometimes I like to make an orange sauce to accompany the Fondants. Combine 2 cups (16 ounces; 458 grams) orange juice, a scant 1/2 cup Sure-jell, and 3/4 cup (5.3 ounces; 150 grams) granulated sugar in a nonreactive 1 quart heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook until the mixture has reduced about one third in volume. Place in an ice bath to cool. This will make 1 1/2 to 2 cups sauce.