Little chocolate ‘fondants’ – oozy-middled chocolate puddings – are divine, if somewhat ubiquitous these days. I love the combination of chocolate, prunes and brandy so I doctored the original idea a little. Timing is important here – a minute too long in the oven, or even waiting around to be served, and these little puds lose their lovely gooey centres. But you can prepare them in advance, ready to bake when you want to serve them.
- 100g prunes, roughly chopped
- 40ml brandy
- A little cocoa powder for dusting
- 150g dark chocolate, broken into small pieces
- 150g unsalted butter, diced, plus extra for greasing
- 3 large eggs
- 75g caster sugar
- 35g plain flour
Soak the prunes in the brandy in a small bowl for at least 2 hours (overnight is fine), to absorb most of the liquid.
Preheat the oven to 200°C/ESSE dial guide HOT (aim for the dial reading to be at the top end of HOT) and put a baking tray inside to heat up. Butter 6 dariole moulds well and dust with cocoa.
Melt the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Stir gently to blend and leave to cool a little.
Beat the eggs and sugar together with an electric whisk for at least 5 minutes until the mixture is thick and moussey and ‘holds a trail’ (when a little is dropped from the whisk it should sit on the surface of the mixture and only slowly sink back in).
Fold the melted chocolate and butter lightly into the egg mousse. Sift the flour over the mixture, then fold it in carefully. It needs to be thoroughly incorporated, but don’t overwork the mix. Fold in the prunes and brandy – again, carefully.
Divide the mixture between the dariole moulds. You can prepare the puds ahead to this point, if you like, and refrigerate them for up to 2 hours.
Bake the puds on the hot tray in the oven for 10–12 minutes. Go for the shorter time if your oven is very efficient or if your puds will be sitting around for a few minutes before serving. Go for the longer time if your oven is on the cool side or if they have been in the fridge. Turn out immediately into shallow bowls and serve at once, with chilled cream.
Swaps – Soak raisins in whisky, dried cherries in Calvados, or even dried cranberries in vodka to replace the prunes in brandy.
Recipe demonstrated on an ESSE 990 ELX at River Cottage HQ.