Ah, pudding week. Always a great time for the bake off bake along, particularly as we come into autumn. The temperature outside is dropping, and staying inside with a fluffy blanket and a selection of puddings seems only right and proper. I am a big fan of the steamed pudding, and I was all set to make one of those. Until the technical challenge came along. And it was chocolate fondants. Or molten chocolate cakes, or whatever Paul is calling them these days. (We’re not even going to talk about the showstopper, obviously).
Anyway, I wasn’t going to pass up the chance to make a chocolate fondant. They are one of my absolute favourite things. And filled with peanut butter? Does life get any better? Don’t answer that. If sitting cross-legged on the living room floor in my pajamas eating chocolate fondant for breakfast at 9am on a Sunday morning is wrong, then I don’t want to be right.
I’m becoming pretty attached to this year’s crop of bakers now. Sophie is adventurous and awesome. She was in the Army and she’s training to be a stuntwoman! Who wouldn’t want to be friends with her? Liam is adorable and funny, and I’m always rooting for him to do well. I adore Julia and I love the unique perspective she brings to things, having been raised in Russia. Yan’s flavours always sound great and I really admire her scientific approach to everything. James seemed like a lovely guy, and I was sad to see him go, but it did feel like his time.
But on to chocolate fondants and the bake off bake along. Sometimes people make a big fuss about chocolate fondants being difficult (especially on MasterChef), but really, they’re just undercooked chocolate cakes. As long as you’ve got a good recipe and you know your oven, you’re golden.
On the show, they made their cakes with peanut butter centres, which I am all for. Chocolate and peanut butter are a winning combination. However, I also had some salted caramel left from last week, so I thought I’d do half the fondants with peanut butter and half with salted caramel. I did not regret this decision. I also added some simple berries to bring a bit of contrast and sharpness to the dessert.
Happy, happy days, my friends. Happy days. It’s times like this when I love the bake off bake along.
My favourite recipe for these is from the great Nigella, and I’ve not changed a great deal because her ratios are perfect.
You can skip the contrasting centres and the berries if you like, but both are excellent if you have them lying around
You will need 6 individual pudding moulds, or darioles, for this recipe. It’s really not a tricky thing to bake, but I appreciate that not everyone has darioles. Sadly, I don’t think normal ramekins would work for this, because they’re not as deep, so the puddings would be likely to cook through and you wouldn’t get the molten centre. Darioles aren’t expensive though, if you’d like to have a go at this recipe and you don’t have any to hand…
You can also serve these with cream or ice cream, but honestly, with the liquid centres I don’t think you need anything extra.
This recipe makes six individual puddings. If you don’t need six at once, keep the spares in the fridge until you want to eat them, and cook when you’re ready.
350 grams good dark chocolate (I like Green & Black’s 70% for this)
50 grams soft butter (plus more for greasing)
cocoa powder, for dusting
150 grams caster sugar
4 large eggs (beaten with pinch of salt)
1 tsp vanilla extract
50 grams Italian 00 flour if you have it, or plain is fine if you don’t (I have tried both and prefer the texture from pasta flour)
6 tsp smooth peanut butter or salted caramel (or both!)
a handful of fresh or frozen mixed berries
- Pop your chocolate in a glass bowl over a pan of simmering water to melt, and stir it occasionally. Preheat your oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6 and pop a baking sheet in there to heat up (unless you are cooking the puddings later). Butter your six darioles, line the base of each with a little circle of baking paper, then dust them with cocoa powder and tap out the excess.
- When your chocolate has melted, take the bowl off the heat to cool a little. In another bowl, cream together your butter and sugar until well-combined. Gradually beat in your eggs and salt, and then your vanilla. Sprinkle the flour over the batter, and then mix again until well combined. Add your melted chocolate, then mix again until well combined and smooth – you should have a fairly thin, glossy batter.
- Divide two thirds of the batter between your six darioles, until they’re each around two thirds full, then add a generous teaspoon of peanut butter (or salted caramel) to each. Divide the remainder of the batter between your darioles, covering the filling, and smooth the tops.
- If you’re cooking them later, pop your moulds into the fridge until needed. If you’re cooking right away, pop them in the oven for 10 minutes (12 if cooking from the fridge). If you’re serving with frozen berries, just microwave them for one minute until they’re warm and releasing their juices. To serve, turn each pudding out onto a plate, top with a spoonful of berries, and eat immediately.