Saturday, August 11, 2012

The French + Chocolate = LOVE!!!

Ah, le chocolat!!!... The long, lasting, passionate, immortal love story, shared by every single French person I've ever met... I mean I do actually know a French who hates cheese (although he might be the only one left, the shame of the nation!) but I've never ever seen anyone who openly declares that they don't love the dark concoction (and I don't have any hope to meet one, as I am told when researching for this post)

"The darker it is (=the higher the cocoa percentage it contains), the better!", this is how one of my ex-colleagues concluded the thoroughly explained chocolate theory (remember, any French can give a 3 hour speech on anything related to food. You've been warned!). So I officially became an oddity when declaring that I don't like chocolate: it happens that I have a bad childhood memory with something so bitter (like the communist era I was living in) that cut me forever the apetite to discover anything that looks like it. For me, quite the opposite works: the more it's mixed with milk and filled with anything other than cocoa, the happier I am! Ooops, I've just committed a cultural faux pas!

But, rest assured, the French nation has resolved to show me the light, because everywhere I turn to I will be chocolate-imagery-flooded. There are hundreds of chocolate bar types in supermarkets, in candy shops, in chocolateries (imagine entire stores dedicated to chocolate, with professionals having spent a couple of long years studying it in order to acquire the title of "maître chocolatier", chocolate master) and then I'm not even counting the books or the cooking shows presenting chocolate in every imaginable form and combination. Not to mention the all very popular chocolate fair held every autumn in Paris (and in the biggest cities all over France) "Le salon du Chocolat", where a "World Chocolate Masters" competition takes place and the "International Cocoa Awards" are granted...

So here is my attempt to make peace with the dreaded food (Versailles oblige!) and I'm not just talking about any recipe by any noname out there: I've chosen the "Fondant au chocolat" recipe, a much loved chocolatey delight, by the desserts superstar, the chef of Plaza Athénée Paris, Christophe Michalak (Note to self: I'll have to prepare a post on the cooking-related star system, it reached new heights in France).

Fondant au chocolat - Chocolate fondant

Serves 4 in the original recipe, but it actually depends on the size of your baking cups or pan (I've got 4 medium ones and 9 small ones)

  • 110g dark chocolate
  • 90g butter
  • 120g sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 40g flour, sifted
  1. - Melt chocolate with butter at low temperature (or in the microwave, or in a bain-marie/water bath)
  2. - In a bowl, whisk sugar with eggs with energetic, vertical movements, trying to introduce as many tiny air bubbles as possible.
  3. - Add the melted butter+chocolate to the sugar+egg mixture
  4. - Add flour the very last, little by little, with the help of the sift, to avoid lumps forming
  5. - Preheat the oven to 180°
  6. - Pour the batter into your cups or baking pan
Now the recipe says to bake 10 minutes at 180°, but again: it all depends of your oven and the size of the baking cups (I needed more for my medium cups and less for the small ones). As a rule of thumb, leave it in there until you'll see a bulge forming and, when delicately shaking the tray, the top of the muffin doesn't look liquid. Ideally, when sectioning it, you should have the interior part flowing out.

And we're done! Now we can silently withdraw to pray to chocolate gods.

Bon appétit !

And you, what is your chocolate experience? Share your stories in the comments below

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