A chocolate fondant is the heavenly concoction of partially baked chocolate pudding with a warm oozing chocolate filling, also known as a chocolate lava cake. Perfect for dinner parties because they can be made ahead of time, but also the downfall of many cooking show hopefuls. The chocolate must be oozy but not SO oozy that it collapses when you unmold it! The art of these is to get the length of cooking time just right and there are a few variables.
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Ramekins and dariole moulds
The chocolate pots can be baked in any kind of individual oven proof container, depending on what you have at hand. Ramekins are ceramic and have an insulating quality (the heat penetrates a lot slower than a metal mould). Dariole moulds are metal and conduct the heat to the contents much more quickly. So, if you are using a ramekin your oven time might be slightly longer than with a dariole mould.
The oven temperature also determines how quickly the fondants will cook. Use a hot oven (220°C) so that the outside cooks quickly before the inside has a chance to set.
These beauties can be made ahead of time and kept in the fridge or freezer until ready to cook. If you are cooking from frozen they will take a little longer to get hot all through. Refrigeration allows them to remain cooler in the middle preventing them from cooking through and leaving the centre molten.
Time in oven
The cooking time should be about 8 minutes for a room temperature pot or 12 minutes for a refrigerated one, but this might vary slightly depending on your oven, what kind of mould you used and if the fondants were refrigerated before cooking. I recommend you test one beforehand to optimize the time that works best for your fondants.
Stand before removing mould
Once you remove them from the oven leave them to stand for about 30 seconds before unmolding onto your plate. This allows them to become slightly more stable so that they don’t break open during unmolding.
The taste of these is largely decided by the quality of the chocolate. Use the best quality dark chocolate you can for the best results. Light and fluffy egg (no baking powder). The reason these keep so well in the fridge or freezer is that they don’t contain any baking powder, the only thing that adds to their fluffiness is the egg in the mixture.
Greasing your mould
Prepare your moulds by greasing them with a little butter and then place a tablespoon of castor sugar in the mould, shake it all about and tip out the excess. This allows for better crust formation and easier unmolding.
Very little flour
My recipe below uses gluten-free flour but it works just a well with cake flour.
Top tip: freeze whites
Egg whites can be frozen for up to a year if placed in the plastic container. Remember to label the number of whites in the container and the date.
Lemon meringue pie is not unique to South Africa, but it is a much loved South African favourite found in every coffee shop from Albertinia to Zeerust and everywhere in between. And what’s not to love? Light, puffy meringue with a slightly crunchy top, sweet and tart curd filling and buttery biscuit base or pasty to hold it all together.