Let’s talk lunch for family and friends, especially autumn and winter desserts for lunch. Spring and summer desserts are easy, fresh fruit and ice creams come to mind, but the cooler months beg comfort and warmth in food when the temps are freezing. I enjoy classic desserts, so my quest as a vegan cook often leads to experiment in making these delicious delights without eggs, milk and sugar while using the tried and true methods of cooking. The chocolate fondants fulfil the brief; its chocolaty molten gooeyness is enough to make anyone weak at the knees.
To make the fondants, I used a very small cake mould bought from a specialty cake shop. In previous bakes, I’ve trialled using a ramekin, yet with less success. The fondants are rich, so a very small cake is sufficient. For ease in sliding the fondant from the mould, make sure you follow the tips given in the recipe in preparing the mould and its removal to serve. It is crucial to test the cooking time as each oven temperature often varies, as does the type of mould used.
To accompany the fondants, I’ve created a pickled red grape sorbet inspired by the trend in pickling fruit. Made with red grapes, visually the sorbet is luscious pink in colour. I’ve given an alternative to churning the grape sorbet in an ice cream machine in case you don’t own one.
Pickling vegetables and fruit is easy, but you need to prepare the sorbet the day or night before, allowing sufficient time for freezing it in case you don’t own an ice cream machine. Here are a few essential pickling tips: use fresh firm grapes without wax, cut the grape just before the stem to allow the pickling brine into the grape, use purified water, use distilled vinegar preferably with 5% acetic acid, use pure canning sea salt (not iodized table salt as it may change the colour of the fruit).
· Raw cacao powder contains more than 300 different chemical compounds and nearly four times the antioxidant power of your average dark chocolate - more than 20 times than that of blueberries.
CHOCOLATE FONDANTS W PICKLED RED GRAPE SORBET
V, SF, GF, DF
Serves 6 small moulds
1 cup vegan chocolate chips
1/3 cup almond milk
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 cup spelt flour OR for GF buckwheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ cup cacao powder
1 cup coconut sugar
1 cups almond milk
1 cup macadamia nuts, roughly blended
Brush upward strokes of melted coconut oil over the insides of the small pudding moulds or ramekins and place in the fridge. After 15 minutes, brush more coconut oil over the chilled coconut oil, return to freezer for less than a minute and dust with a spoonful of cacao powder, tip the mould and turn full circle so the powder completely coats it. Tap out excess, and repeat with other moulds.
Preheat the oven to 200’C/400’F/Gas Mark 6. Place a bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water, and melt chocolate chips, almond milk and coconut oil. Stir to mix, remove from heat and set aside to cool for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, cacao powder and coconut sugar. Add the almond milk and stir. Fold in the chocolate sauce a third at a time. Spoon the mixture into the moulds just over half way. Place the fondants on a baking tray, and bake for 10-15 minutes until the top forms a crust, and is starting to pull away from the sides of the mould. When the edge is tested with a skewer it comes out clean, while the centre when tested is covered in chocolate (the fondant will keep cooking when removed from the oven). Remove from the oven, and leave to sit for a minute. Serve hot to enjoy the oozy centre. To serve, move the tops very gently so they come away from the sides. Tip each fondant gently onto your hand to check that it comes away from the sides, place a warm plate on top of the mould and flip it over. Spoon an arc of macadamia nut crumb onto each plate. Add a quenelle of pickled red grape sorbet.
PICKLED RED GRAPE SORBET
Makes 6 quenelles
2 cups red grapes
¼ cup rice malt syrup
¼ cup water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
Turn on the ice cream machine to chill according to manufacturers instructions. Wash the grapes well. Cut the grape just before the stem and place in a bowl. Combine rice malt syrup, water and lemon juice in a saucepan and bring to the boil over a medium heat. Set aside to cool. Combine vinegar, 2/3 of the grapes and salt in a saucepan and bring to the boil over a medium heat. Set aside until vinegar cools and begins to become red in colour, about 5-6 minutes. Transfer the grape mixture to a blender with the remaining 1/3 of fresh grapes and process until smooth. Pass through a fine sieve into a clean bowl. Add the cooled rice malt syrup to the grape liquid and stir until combined. Pour into the chilled ice cream machine and churn until set. Transfer sorbet to the freezer until ready to serve. To chill without an ice cream machine, pour grape liquid unto a container, and put into the freezer to partially set. Take out of the freezer and mix well with a spoon. Return to the freezer until ready to serve.