I’m licking the last of this recipe off my spoon as I press ‘send’ on a pitch about the tyranny of wedding diets. Because honestly, even if I had even the slightest inclination to spend a whole year of my life not drinking wine and demurely declining puddings and pastries, sticky buns and smelly cheeses, not touching blisteringly hot, glassy roast potatoes or crumbling, buttery shortbread, this recipe would be my undoing. Let’s be real, I will never have that level of will power, and I don’t especially long for the ability to deprive myself of the things that bring joy to my personal and professional life, but even if I did, speculoos chocolate fondant would see off any such intentions.
Because I have learnt the secret to chocolate fondants. That pudding that plagues at least half a dozen Masterchef contestants every series . I’m sure that the correct way to make fondants probably does involve eating what is essentially uncooked cake batter, but this version does away with that: proper, dark, almost bitter chocolate cake, surrounding molten, golden biscoff spread, that pools out gloriously when broken into with a spoon (but not before!).
If you haven’t tried biscoff yet, it is a speculoos flavoured spread, introduced by Lotus: spiced, and tawny, the flavour of those little individually wrapped caramelised biscuits often served in cafes with coffee.
I am terribly, terribly proud of these. There’s nothing better than discovering a foolproof cheat for a dish that is supposed to be complicated. Freezing the filling into little blobs (quenelles if you’re really feeling fancy) takes all the risk and stress out of making fondants and gives you a freedom and confidence. When I first unmoulded this pud, I felt invincible. I hope you do too.
These are probably best cooked shortly after the mixture is made, but I’ve refrigerated the batter in the moulds for a whole week before cooking, and still had complete success.
It goes like this:
Speculoos Melting Chocolate Fondant
Makes: 2 fondants
Takes: 20 minutes plus freezing
Bakes: 15 minutes
2 dessertspoons of Biscoff spread (I use Lotus)
60g caster sugar
60g dark chocolate
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon self-raising flour
Cocoa powder for dusting
1. Scoop 2 dessert spoons of biscoff onto a small baking tray. Place them in the freezer for at least an hour. Butter 2 dariole moulds or individual pudding moulds, and place them in the fridge for ten minutes. Butter the moulds again and pour some cocoa powder into the moulds. Manipulate the moulds until the entire inside of the mould is coated in a fine film of cocoa powder; tap out any excess. Place the moulds in the fridge until you’re ready to use them.
2. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Melt the chocolate over a bain marie and allow to cool a little.
3. Cream together butter and sugar in a mixing bowl until pale and fluffy. Add the egg and the egg yolk and mix until combined. Add the chocolate and the flour and fold into the mixture gently.
4. Divide the mixture between the chilled dariole moulds. At this stage there should be about 1 cm free space at the top of the mould.
5. Just before cooking, remove the biscoff from the freezer and drop one into each mould. Ease it down through the mixture and smooth the batter over the top so it is covered.
6. I bake these for 15 minutes exactly, but start taking sneaky peaks at the puddings at about the 10 minute mark (just crack open the oven door, you don’t want the temperature to drop too much). The pudding should be risen, and slightly puffed: the sponge will just spring back when pressed gently with a finger. Don’t worry if the top is a little cracked.
7. Leave the cooked puddings to cool for a couple of minutes (no longer!). Run a knife very gently around the edge of the mould: if you angle the knife slightly so that the blade faces the metal mould, you’re less likely to tear the pudding. Place the plate that you intend to serve on on top of the pudding, and confidently invert. You’ll need to use a tea towel for this as the moulds will be too hot to hold. Gently wiggle the mould until the pudding slips free.
8. Ta dah!
Icing on the Cake
As I’m sure you can imagine, the recipe testing period for this pudding was drawn-out, miserable and selfless. Only for you, good reader, did I eat my bodyweight in chocolate sponge and molten speculoos for a whole fortnight. It also works brilliantly with nutella and smooth peanut butter in place of the biscoff.