HALF PRICE Subscribe to one of our French titles today CLICK HERE

Fondant au chocolat recipe

17:09 16 February 2012

Chocolate

Chocolate

(c) Ppy2010ha | Dreamstime.com

Timing is everything when making a fondant au chocolat, as the results can vary greatly if you don’t pay attention...

 

When chef Michel Bras perfected the original recipe for biscuit de chocolat coulant in 1981, little did he know that within a couple of decades his 
runny-centred cake would usurp classics such as crème brûlée or chocolate mousse.

Not only has this cake – also known less accurately as fondant au chocolat or moelleux au chocolat – become a ubiquitous dessert in French restaurants, it can also be bought frozen to pop into the microwave at home.

It’s easy to understand the popularity of a cake that collapses under the fork to release a pool of molten chocolate, enhanced by a melting scoop of vanilla ice cream. This is French comfort food at its best, an ending that is hard to resist even after a rich meal (particularly if you order one for two people). Yet, if the coulant au chocolat is nearly always satisfying, only rarely is it sublime.

This makes sense when you consider that Bras, a star chef at his eponymous restaurant at Laguiole in the Aveyron département, spent two years developing his recipe, in which he inserts a cork-shaped piece of frozen ganache into a chocolate cake batter lightened with frothy egg whites. He then freezes the whole thing before baking it until the outside is cooked but the interior is still liquid. Bras uses short lengths of garden hose to shape his ganache, something that few home cooks, or many other restaurant chefs for that matter, are likely to copy.

Thus, the quick version of coulant au chocolat was born: a cake batter unabashedly rich in butter and chocolate that remains runny inside when baked briefly in a hot oven. Though this version is much easier to prepare, it also has a greater risk of going wrong: an inaccurate oven temperature or a few minutes’ inattention can transform it into a brownie.

Though I had eaten my share of coulants over the years, I had an epiphany while making a guest chef appearance at the bistro La Table de Claire in eastern Paris. Not used to the gruelling hours of restaurant service, I felt depleted after three days and nights in front of the stove preparing labour-intensive specialities from Nice. Claire Seban, the restaurant’s chef at that time, pointed to a tray of chocolate fondant cakes that had just emerged from the oven. “Help yourself,” she said.

Standing in the kitchen spooning chocolate cake straight off the baking tray, I had never encountered such a perfect balance of crunchy and smooth, sweet and bitter – though I’ll admit that hunger and fatigue may have enhanced the experience. Even the requisite scoop of ice cream didn’t seem necessary.

Claire’s secret, apart from a well-designed recipe and perfect timing, was the quality of her chocolate. Many of the best French chefs work with Valrhona, choosing from pure-origin baking chocolates such as Manjari from Madagascar or Guanaja from the Caribbean. Because the coulant contains very little flour, the character of the chocolate makes all the difference. If you can’t get your hands on Valrhona (a good source is the pastry supply shop Detou in Paris, tel: (Fr) 1 42 36 54 67), it is worth experimenting with high-quality chocolates from the supermarket.

Once you have selected your chocolate, the key is to try the recipe once or twice to get the timing just right. Because the coulant appears barely cooked when the timer goes off, the temptation is always to leave it in too long. Remember that it will continue to cook for a few minutes once out of the oven and that during this time the liquid interior will thicken slightly. At that point, the only challenge is to stop yourself from lapping it up before serving
it to your guests.

 

 

Fondant au chocolat recipe from La Table de Claire

 

With black-and-white floor tiles, a Formica bar, modern light fixtures and a sunny terrace, this is the little bistro everyone dreams of having around the corner. La Table de Claire in the 11th arrondissement made its name thanks to the ‘chef d’un soir’ nights, in which amateur chefs would take over the restaurant. Chef Claire Seban has moved on to other projects, but the current chef/owner, Lofti Sioud, continues to serve a spontaneous cuisine inspired 
by his travels and by seasonal produce. Because so many customers had a soft spot for Claire’s fondant au chocolat, it often appears on the menu.

 

Serves 8.

• 220g dark chocolate, the best you can afford

• 200g butter

• 100g white sugar

• 5 eggs

• 1 level tbsp flour

• A little butter for the mould

 

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.

2. In a heavy saucepan, melt the dark chocolate and butter together over a low heat. Add the sugar and stir to dissolve. Let the mixture cool to lukewarm and add the eggs one by one. Finally, fold in the flour.

3. Pour the batter into eight buttered ring moulds placed on 
a baking sheet, or eight buttered shallow dishes (crème brûlée dishes would work well). Bake for eight minutes.

4. Serve warm or at room temperature with a scoop of vanilla or caramel ice cream.

 

 

La Table de Claire

30 Rue Émile Lepeu

75011 Paris

Tel: (Fr) 1 43 70 59 84

www.latabledeclaire.fr

0 comments

Article by France Magazine France Magazine

More from language & culture

Mon, 09:32
The chic resort of Saint-Tropez is backed by the inky-blue waters of the Mediterranean © Thinkstock

The chic resort of Saint-Tropez is a food lover’s paradise with restaurants for all budgets. Here is our pick of places to eat

Read more
Thursday, July 14, 2016
French news headlines © Iropa / Dreamstime

Names and capitals announced for France’s new regions, explore Loire Valley châteaux without leaving home and plastic bags banned in French shops – the French news headlines that caught our eye this week

Read more
Wednesday, July 6, 2016
Language-learning apps © Tsiumpa / Fotolia

Language-learning apps are a great way to learn French whenever and wherever you can. These are our favourite ones to use

Read more
Learning French
Wednesday, June 29, 2016
Bastille Day in France © encrier / ThinkstockPhotos

Anyone who has been in France on 14 July will know that Bastille Day or the Fête Nationale is a big deal in France, but what is it and where do you celebrate it?

Read more
Events in France
Tuesday, June 28, 2016
© Just Provence

Learn these essential French property types to help with your househunting in France

Read more
Learning French
Tuesday, June 21, 2016
Snails (escargots) are a speciality of Burgundy © Margouillat / Dreamstime

With coq au vin, escargots and boeuf bourguignon as its speciality dishes, the food in Burgundy is exceptional. Especially when accompanied by a glass of Burgundy wine!

Read more
Burgundy
Wednesday, June 15, 2016
This tangy tarte au citron makes fresh summer dessert ©Thinkstock / margouillatphotos

What better way to round off a dinner party than with the classic French dessert tarte au citron? Make your own delicious lemon tart with this recipe

Read more
French recipes
Tuesday, June 14, 2016
It wouldn't be France without bread...

Here’s a round-up of the bread stalwarts you’ll find in boulangeries across France

Read more
Wednesday, June 8, 2016
French films you should watch

Improve your level of French with our selection of the best of modern French cinema

Read more
Learning French
Tuesday, June 7, 2016
Salade niçoise recipe

Can’t make it to Nice this summer? Console yourself by making this traditional dish from the French Riviera’s capital

Read more
French recipes

Living in France

Find valuable information, expert advice and real-life experiences to help you with all the practicalities of living in France. Topics covered include; working in France, retirement, healthcare, tax, finance and education.

Read more

Most Read

Holidays

Find news, offers, information and advice on all aspects of taking a holiday in France, including information on travel, destinations, getting there and more.

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Our magazines