Wednesday, May 14, 2014

French Gâteau Fondant au Chocolat


To find joy in work is to discover the fountain of youth. 
- Pearl S. Buck 

My father was never one to give fatherly advice. He loved us and coddled us, encouraged us and scolded us (when appropriate) and sometimes raised his voice to us (noisy, joyous children during the evening news) yet his expectations and desires for each of us were implied rather than stated, implied and understood. In his own quiet, gentle way, he let us know that we were to get an excellent education and all become lawyers or doctors. Yeah. He did.

One day he did sit me down for an unexpected father-daughter talk. I was just starting college, a psychology major, and his words of wisdom surprised me. "Don't even think of getting married before you have your PhD in hand and a good, well-paying job. If you get married first, you might never continue your studies and your financial independence is the most important thing you can have. You never know what will happen in the future."

Well, it was about as useful as my mother's advice "Get married twice: the first time for money, the second time for love."

Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life. 

It has taken me many years, but I finally found what I truly love, work that is work but also play. Pure joy. And there is nothing that I would rather be doing. Not psychology. Not art history, which followed hot on its heels. Nor hatmaking though I trained as a milliner in a luxury studio in Milan. But writing. 

Ilva Beretta and I are so happy to announce our Autumn Plated Stories Workshop, which will take place the first weekend in October at Il Salicone, a splendid 19th century villa among the olive groves and vineyards of beautiful Tuscany, Italy.

If you are a food or travel blogger, aspiring or more experienced food photographer or writer and are looking to hone and refine your skills, find new creative energy and inspiration, and learn how text and images work together for greater impact, this is the workshop for you. From the team behind the award-winning blog. With the added bonus of a Tuscan cooking class from cookbook author Giulia Scarpaleggia!

Find details of the Workshop as well as how and where to register on the Plated Stories blog.

Photo courtesy Ilva Beretta

Why layer cake with cookie dough and cheesecake? Why stuff the whole concoction with marshmallows, chocolate chips and candy bars; why drench it in too much chocolate and caramel sauce? Why overkill when good chocolate, butter, eggs and flour with simply a dash of vanilla and cinnamon is just so, well, so perfect?

A French Fondant has nothing to do with sugary icing. A French fondant is simply a cake so moist and tender that it melts in the mouth, so light and ethereal it disappears in a flash, fading into a sweet afterthought. More or less flour, more or less butter and eggs offer a variation on the texture and richness. The one I offer you today is luxuriously thick and creamy like a pudding, surrounded by a dense, brownie-like outside and a crispy, meringue-like crust, barely there, just holding in the center. Gooey, yes, but beautifully soft and velvety, much lighter than one would expect. A deep chocolate flavor without a trace of bitterness, the salted butter adding an afterthought of caramel. My own addition of cinnamon and vanilla simply boost the overall flavor. This is perfection itself.

And a very sexy, sensual dessert for two.

The Chocolate Chestnut Fondant, made with an entire can of creamy chestnut cream, is denser, more fudge-like yet an elegant holiday treat with its mélange of chocolate and chestnut.

The Chestnut Fondants are more cake-like, feathery soft and light yet with the moistness of a fondant, much less so than either of the chocolate ones. A drizzle of chocolate ganache is perfect with the faint nuttiness imparted by the chestnut flour.

FRENCH CHOCOLATE FONDANT CAKE (Gâteau Fondant au Chocolat)
Adapted from Elle à Table N°93 March-April 2014 

7 oz / 200 g dark, bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
7 oz (14 Tbs) / 200 g salted butter
7 oz (1 cup) / 200 g sugar (I used semisweet baking chocolate so decreased the sugar by about a tablespoon)
4 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3 ½ oz / 100 g flour
¼ tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Butter an 8-inch (20/21-cm) springform pan.

Coarsely chop or break up the chocolate and place it in a small saucepan with the butter cut in large cubes or slices. Melt over very low heat, stirring continuously; remove from the heat just before the chocolate and butter are completely melted but not quite. Continue stirring off the heat until the butter and chocolate are both completely melted and smooth. Alternately, this can be done in a bain-marie or in the microwave. Set aside to cool slightly.

In a large bowl using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the eggs with the sugar until thick and creamy, 2 – 3 minutes. Beat in the vanilla. Stir the cinnamon into the flour and beat into the eggs/sugar on low speed until smooth and creamy. On low speed, beat in the melted chocolate/butter in a slow stream until the batter is smooth and well blended.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30 – 40 minutes until the center is set (if you jiggle the pan back and forth you will be able to see if the batter is still liquid or if it is set but thick like pudding).

Remove from the oven to a cooling rack and allow to cool for 15 or 20 minutes (or longer) before loosening the cake and carefully removing the ring. Allow the cake to cool completely before turning onto a cake plate.

For an elegant dessert, serve with a bit of unsweetened or lightly-sweetened whipped cream or a berry coulis. Or both.


Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

I'm so happy for you. Finding the job of our dreams is what we all want...

This fondant is terrific. I really have to try your recipe.



Cathy at Wives with Knives said...

There is a lot of wisdom in your father's advice. Having a job you love is a true blessing. Your gateau is decadent, Jamie. What a beautiful dessert.

Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

Your father got it right. I'm so pleased for you and you deserve it. What a spectacular gateau and dark chocolate would be my favorite.

Milk and Honey said...

I truly wish I could participate in your workshop. I hope to at least read all about it in your blogs. I a truly wish I could have a modest (or not so modest) slice of this decadence for my breakfast.

Maureen | Orgasmic Chef said...

Congratulations on your dream job where you get to play. That's a lovely cake and I'm pretty sure after a sexy cake like that, you get very lucky. :)

Barb | Creative Culinary said...

You were (and are) so fortunate to have had that type of expectation and support as a child Jamie. I can not imagine how that might have molded me differently if I had seen one tiny glimpse of that in my youth.

My parents only saw me as a third parent, called on to help with their big brood. My achievements were done for my own sake, certainly never expecting that my parents would know, care or acknowledge; so I hope you know how lucky you were!

Of course I chuckled at your description of the latest craze; the notion that more stuff crammed into a dessert makes it more better (I did that on purpose just for you; you can red pen it if you want!).

This sounds like the perfect dessert but then all of your desserts are wonderful!

Jenni said...

I am in love with this cake. That pretty much sums it up.

I don't think I ever received any fatherly advice. Pretty sure my dad was too self-absorbed for such "nonsense." Glad you got some; your dad gave you some excellent advice. :)

I'm glad you found writing. It was waiting for you all along. <3

Simones Kitchen said...

Ooo darn.... I kind of missed the first workshop as I couldn't go and was hoping I would be able to attend workshop number two, but I'll be in Indonesia for the entire month of October. No punishment ofcourse but I so hope there will be a number three with better timing! And in the meantime I'll be eating this cake..

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

LOL I loved the contrast between your mother and your father's advice. It's brilliant! :D

Lisa said...

First off, damn you..damn you for making me look at the most perfect chocolate fondant cake, one which I could never achieve, no matter how perfectly I beat the eggs and sugar to custardy fluff, or how perfect my quality chocolate is..even in my wildest dreams! I've tried them before, and they always turn out 'feh'. However, thank you for giving me a little hope via your recipe (knock wood). As for your Dad..what a lucky girl to have such a supportive and gentle Dad who gave you sage advice. I'm glad you followed your heart, though because we might not have the Jamie we have today had you followed it 100%. My father pretty much never gave me advice, and oh, how I needed it. xo

Nuts about food said...

I remember seeing this post on IG and swooning... and what perfect advice your father gave you that one time!


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