Chocolate Fondant cake, an easy French classic dessert with an added kick of candied ginger. Usually served with a thin custard, we love to add more spice intrigue with a Chai crème anglaise sauce. What’s more, it’s a perfect make-ahead recipe for entertaining.
What’s more, it tastes even better next day! So, even although it’s quick to make, prepare this fondant a day before serving and you’re already prepared for tomorrow’s dessert.
French Chocolate Fondant Cake
There’s nothing really mind-boggling new really. Based on a classic French flourless chocolate cake, a speciality of the Aquitaine region, the ratio is normally the equivalent amount (200g) of good quality dark (bittersweet) chocolate, butter and sugar with 4-5 eggs.
Over the years, however, I’ve lowered the sugar to appreciate the chocolate better – and, ever since I discovered Trish Deseine’s idea of adding just a tablespoon of flour “as an afterthought” (from her wonderful book, Nobody Does it Better), I’ve used this version and cut down the sugar. If you prefer to keep this cake gluten free, then omit the flour (or replace with almond flour).
This is my family’s favourite version with lowered sugar and added candied ginger – as we adore chocolate ginger macarons!
How to Use Candied (Glacé) Ginger
Have I told you before about the fantastic candied (glacé) ginger we can get in France? The best hails from the market town of Apt in the Luberon (Provence), where it’s the world Capital of Candied Fruits. Apt Union is the address if you’re heading in that direction. Buy by the kilo, as it’s great value for money (incidentally, I see they only deliver in France). If you can’t find it, no worries – use stem ginger in syrup. It tends to be a lot hotter, so thinly slice it and add only as much as you dare! (update: I see you can buy candied ginger from Trader Joe’s, Amazon and Walmart in the USA)
Add candied ginger to chocolate macarons (as I do in the recipe in Mad About Macarons) and it’s the best surprise ever to bite into the middle of a fudgy, fondant macaron.
Add That Extra Touch to Chocolate
As with many plain chocolate fondant cakes (including those chocolate coffee individual fondants), I adore melting a teaspoon of coffee granules into the chocolate. It brings out the earthiness of the chocolate and renders it extra smooth. If you prefer without the coffee, a couple of good pinches of salt (fleur de sel, Maldon or Celtic salt) is just as good, as I use in this recipe.
For spice lovers who want to go the full monty, then add a good pinch of cayenne pepper – you’ll see: bittersweet dark chocolate with cayenne is incredible!
How to Serve Chocolate Fondant Cake in France
Either serve on its own slightly warmed or at room temperature with vanilla ice cream (my favourite recipe is in my first book, ‘Mad About Macarons’) or this non-churn Drambuie ice cream.
However, if you want to serve it Parisian restaurant style, serve with a classic vanilla Crème Anglaise (the French answer to custard but served chilled and runny).
In Autumn, I love adding a touch of spice to the French custard, simply by adding some Chai tea.
This Chai Tea Creme Anglaise is the perfect match with just enough warming spice to complement the chocolate ginger fondant cake.
Chocolate Fondant vs Lava Cake
In France, we’re used to seeing chocolate fondant cakes as an evenly fudgy cake. Normally there is no runny middle. It’s normally served in French restaurants as a slice surrounded by some runny vanilla custard, the crème anglaise.
However, lava cakes are very like fondant cakes but the difference is that lava – like the name implies – has a runny centre. In French lava or molten cakes are known as les Moelleux au Chocolat avec son coeur coulant – with runny hearts.
Chocolate Fondant Cake with Ginger
- 200 g (7oz) dark (bittersweet) chocolate No less than 60% cacao
- 200 g (7oz) unsalted butter cut roughly into cubes
- 150 g (5.5oz) sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt (fleur de sel) (or tsp coffee granules if making a plain chocolate cake)*
- 5 organic eggs (medium)
- 1 tbsp plain (all-purpose) flour For GLUTEN FREE, replace with almond or rice flour
- 50 g (2oz) candied ginger (or one stem ginger in syrup, sliced)
- Preheat oven to 180°C/160°C fan/360°F/Gas 4.
Grease a round cake tin (25cm/10 inch) and line with cooking parchment.
- Over a pot of simmering water, place the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl (bain-marie) and melt the chocolate gently for about 10 minutes.
- As soon as the chocolate and butter have melted, take off the heat. Add the sugar and mix together with a spoon, gradually add the eggs and then add the flour, mixing until just combined.
- Place the candied ginger at the bottom of the cake tin then pour over the chocolate mixture and bake for 20 minutes.
- Remove from the oven (don't worry if it looks uneven, it will flatten out while cooling) and leave to cool for about 20 minutes then turn out of the tin on to a serving plate.
Made this fondant cake using the “freee” free from Gluten Flour (available in Sainsburys and Waitrose, amongst others) and it also works just the same! Slightly different in terms of texture but hardly noticeable, just slightly softer. Thanks mum! Perfect for a party for my friend with coeliac disease.
So good to know – thanks for trying it out, Julie. So happy your friend can enjoy it too with GF flour. Appreciate your feedback x
Love this recipe, thank you mum! 😀 Excited to make this tonight…
You’re a poppet – I’m so busy on this blog I don’t have time to make dessert tonight so I’m glad you’re here!
Oh, my, this cake looks insanely delicious!! I can see why it’s such a classic! xo
Thanks, Liz. The ginger just makes this extra special.
Looks lovely, Jill! Candied ginger is not something we find over here, in fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen stem ginger! I make a similar cake, but without the ginger, of course, since it’s a rarity. Would love to try your version one day!
Thanks, Christina. It’s a real French classic and every family has their version of this, I think! Funny you mention this, it’s true for this in French supermarkets. It’s not that common but it’s available in the USA. See it’s on Amazon with a Trader Joe’s version (I prefer the candied ginger without the extra crystallization, too much sugar) and there’s another few in Walmart, including Reed’s candied ginger cubes. However, the best is still the ones in Apt, Provence.
Cool! And I thought I knew everything TJs carried!
This could well be our Christmas pud this year! We’re not fans of traditional British Christmas pudding, my husband and I love sherry trifle but our young adults don’t, so we’re on the lookout for something that will please all. Would black cherries work instead of ginger? I adore ginger, but the rest don’t (fussy bunch). And to accompany it would you say a Maury dessert wine would work?
Of course the traditional doily decor will be essential – perhaps with a few angels scattered around!
Linda, this sounds a wonderful idea for your Christmas pud! Your family sound much like ours (my husband doesn’t like Xmas pud either). Pity about the ginger but yes, great idea, the black cherries (I assume they’ll be Amaretto cherries or whole frozen/tinned?) will work but I’d suggest serving them on the side as they’ll be too juicy to bake inside the cake unless you’re using candied (glacé) cherries. For a Black Forest idea (serve with Chantilly cream laced with vanilla) your Maury is perfect! Or a Banyuls Grand Cru. Love your doily angels – completely forgot about making those at primary school. Thanks for the memories. Cheers!