Salted Dark Chocolate Fondant with Salted Caramel & Macadamia Ice Cream

Ben Purton - Executive Head Chef, The Royal Horseguards Hotel and One Whitehall Place
Cook time 1 hour
Servings 8
Difficulty Hard

If you are short on time, or don’t have an ice-cream machine, just make the caramel nut mix and fold it into some shop-bought, high-quality vanilla ice cream (Shhhh, no one will know!)

Ingredients

200ml pasteurised egg yolk

300g caster sugar

500ml double cream

500ml milk

1 vanilla pod, seeded

200g macadamia nuts

2 tsp Maldon sea salt

 

For the fondants:

250g dark chocolate couverture (minimum 60% cocoa solids)

250g unsalted butter

5 whole eggs

5 egg yolks

300g caster sugar

250g plain flour

2 tsp Maldon sea salt

Salted Dark Chocolate Fondant with Salted Caramel & Macadamia Ice Cream

If you are short on time, or don’t have an ice-cream machine, just make the caramel nut mix and fold it into some shop-bought, high-quality vanilla ice cream (Shhhh, no one will know!)

Method

This dessert should have a liquid centre, so I advise cooking a test fondant beforehand (and of course eating it!) so you can tell if you need to adjust the cooking times… Just as with Maldon salt, I love to use only the best ingredients, so a fantastic dark couverture such as Araguani from Valrhona, or Felchlin’s Bolivian Cru Sauvageor the Extra Bitter 70% Callabaut will really boost the cacao notes in this fondant recipe. If you are limited to a supermarket selection, then we recommend Green and Black’s.

 

Begin by making the ice cream. In a large bowl, mix the yolks and 200g of the sugar together thoroughly, so that there are no lumps. Do this in advance, and you will find the custard cooks quicker as the sugar draws moisture from the eggs.

Boil the cream and milk with the vanilla pod – this will release the oils and aromatic flavours. Pour half the liquid over the yolk mix, and stir it with a whisk to incorporate it quickly. Return the pan to the hob, and then pour all the egg mix back into the milk remaining in the pan. Lower the heat and continue to stir with a spatula; raise the temperature gradually until it reaches 82°C or until it is thick and coats the back of a spoon. Be careful, as if you heat the mix too far the custard will curdle or split. As soon as the custard is cooked, remove it from the heat and pass it through a fine sieve into a bowl or container. Immediately chill it over ice to stop the cooking process.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4 and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. Spread the macadamia nuts out on it and roast them in the oven while the custard is cooling. Take them out as soon as they are a rich golden brown.

Put the rest of the sugar into a clean, dry, heavy-based pan and, over a medium heat, begin to melt it down. Using a wooden spoon, move the sugar around as it melts and starts to colour. You will need to take this sugar to the caramel stage which is at least 180°C, so be very careful. When the colour is golden, and all the sugar crystals are melted and the syrup is clear, pour the caramel over the nuts and leave it to set. Once cool, break up the caramel, smashing it lightly with the end of a rolling pin to create smaller bite-sized chunks. Sprinkle the Maldon salt into the mix.

Place the custard in an ice-cream machine and churn until thick and almost frozen, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Then fold in the caramel chunks and Maldon salt and place the ice cream in the freezer to set up and crystallise a little more. Make sure the ice cream is not too runny when you mix in the caramel as otherwise the salt may dissolve – it is a much tastier effect to have the flakes melt in the mouth.

Now for the fondants. Heat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas 6.

Melt the chocolate and butter until smooth and lump free. The chocolate should not get too hot – it will be fully liquid at 30°C and burn above 60°C – and your mix should be warm, not hot. You can use a microwave if you can set a low enough power and melt it slowly; otherwise put it in a dry bowl over a pan of simmering water, with the bottom of the bowl clear of the surface of the water. Be careful not to get any water in the mix or it can seize.

Lightly whisk the eggs and sugar together. If you have melted the chocolate in a bowl over water, take the bowl off the pan. Stir the egg mixture into the melted chocolate, then fold in the flour and the Maldon salt.

Grease and sugar 8 large ramekins or grease and line 8 dessert rings. Pipe or spoon the mixture into these moulds until they are about three-quarters full. Just before serving, cook for about 8–12 minutes – depending on the size of the mould and thickness of the edges – until the mix has risen, but the cake should not be cooked all the way through.

Remove from the oven, and serve with the ice cream on the side.