A rich dessert that will grace any dinner party.
- for the poached cherries:
- 300ml red wine
- 2 tblsp kirsch (cherry brandy, optional)
- 500 g cherries (stones removed, use a melon baller if you have one, stalks intact)
- 75 g caster sugar
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 0.5 vanilla pod
- for the fondants:
- 200 g butter (plus a little extra for greasing)
- 100 g plain flour (sifted, plus a little extra for dusting)
- 200 g plain chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids, broken into squares)
- 4 eggs
- 4 egg yolks
- 250 g caster sugar
- 30 plain chocolate drops
- vanilla ice cream and sprigs of mint, to serve
- Once cooked, they should be soft in the centre, but able to hold their shape. If they collapse, simply cook for a few more minutes. Any extra fondants can be frozen for up to 1 month and the poached cherries will keep for a week in the fridge.
- To poach the cherries, place the wine in a saucepan with the kirsch, if using, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla pod and bring to the boil.
- Turn down the heat and simmer for 10 minutes until the flavours have combined and the liquid has slightly reduced. Add the cherries and simmer for 5 minutes until they are soft and tender but still holding their shape.
- Remove from the heat, stir well and allow to cool. Cover with cling film until needed.
- Meanwhile, grease ten 175ml (6fl oz) dariole moulds or ramekins with a little butter and then dust with plain flour. Place in the freezer to set for at least 10 minutes.
- To make the fondants, melt the butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Remove from the heat and allow to cool a little. Whisk the eggs, egg yolks and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Beat the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture, then gently fold in the flour.
- Pipe or spoon the chocolate mixture into the prepared moulds until each is no more than about a third full, gently tapping to remove any air bubbles.
- Place three chocolate drops into the centre of each mould, then add the remaining chocolate mixture until the chocolate drops are completely covered but the dariole moulds are no more than half full.
- Place the moulds in the fridge for at least 15 minutes (or for up to 3 hours) until the mixture is firm but still a little sticky to the touch.
- Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F/Gas 5). Bake the fondants for 12 minutes until they are just cooked but still soft in the centre.
- Allow the fondants to rest for a minute or two in the moulds, then invert each one on to the middle of a plate. Spoon some of the poached cherries alongside, add a scoop of ice cream to each plate and decorate with sprigs of mint.
Neven's tip: These can be made well in advance as they are better if allowed to rest for a few hours before baking.