Recently I have decided that it’s time to expand my cooking repertoire, try some new dishes and learn some new techniques. After flicking through my cookery books and magazines I decided to start with fondants.
Initially I just planned to have a go at the sweet chocolaty versions, but then I thought, what the heck, if I’m trying new things I might as well make a day of it and have a go at the savoury potato type as well and so an extremely calorific meal plan was born.
I started with the savoury fondant, which is essentially a piece of nicely shaped piece of potato poached in butter (and a little stock). I suppose you could really use any shape of potato provided it would cook evenly, but on the TV the chefs always seem to cut perfect cylinders from a large potato and so I thought I’d try that. After a little bit of searching in various supermarkets I eventually managed to locate two sufficiently large firm potatoes to cut my cylinders from .
This proved to be a lot harder than it looks on the TV. I don’t know if I’m just weak, or if they have sharper cutters than me, but it took an awful lot of huffing and puffing to get through the potato. Once I did finally manage to cut them out I just lopped of the top and bottom to give it flat ends and then trimmed the edges slightly to make them pretty.
For my two 100g pieces I melted 100g of butter in a saucepan and then added my potatoes. Once they had fried on one side for 5 minutes I flipped them over, added the stock, some thyme and some garlic then turned down the heat and popped the lid on the pan. 25 minutes later a lot of my butter/stock mix was gone (I’m not sure if it evaporated or was absorbed by the potato?) and my fondants were cooked.
I served these with some roast chicken, peas and gravy. While there were soft, buttery and rich, I have to admit I was a little disappointed. The flavour was very similar to the inside of a good roast potato, but without lovely the crispy outer shell. I can see how these look much more elegant on a plate than a roast potato, but I think at home, where no one is judging my presentation, I would prefer a plain old crunchy roasty!
I then plunged on with the chocolate fondants. Having watched umpteen series of Masterchef over the years I’ve seen a lot of failed fondants and so I was feeling a little nervous about these. Would they stand up once out of the moulds? Would they have a lovely gooey centre? In the end these turned out to be quite straight forward to make and the answer to both questions was yes!
After reading several recipes I was a bit confused as to whether I should chill my fondants or not prior to cooking. In the end, since my recipe made two, I decided to try both methods. While they both worked, the chilled fondant rose a bit less which made it easier to stand up on the plate, so I think this works the best if you have the time.
Unlike the potato fondants, the chocolate ones were not disappointing at all. Instead they were divine – rich and gooey and lovely. As I say, I was surprised how easy it was to make these and I’m definitely going to be whipping up some more in the coming weeks!