Dessert classics

These desserts are not only classics, they are also totally achievable at home. My partner, Vanessa, has dubbed the hot chocolate fondant ''the chocolate river''. When you break the crisp exterior with a spoon, a thick wave of warm chocolate flows on to the plate. It is also one of the easiest, yet most impressive, desserts you can serve to guests. The hardest thing is having the courage to take it out of the oven when it still looks like it might fall apart. Have faith. And if you don't get the timing right and you overcook the pudding, it's still delicious.

La Vina, a small bar in the Spanish city of San Sebastian, is famous for its cheesecake. They bake about a dozen of them each morning and the bar is completely covered by them as they come out of the oven to cool.

Several years ago I constructed a recipe for the cake in one of my cookbooks. Going from taste, I imagined it contained a long list of ingredients including goat's curd, lemon and brandy. It was good but not quite right. So the last time I was in San Sebastian, I just asked for the recipe. Like most good things, it was simple. It is cooked in a hot oven so the outside has a well-developed ''el scorcho'' look. Don't be alarmed. This is what makes it so good, along with the soft-textured centre.

HOT CHOCOLATE FONDANT

1 tbsp softened butter, for greasing dariole moulds
2 tbsp cocoa powder
350g dark couverture chocolate (53 per cent cocoa solids)
4 whole eggs
125ml cream
50g unsalted butter, diced into 1cm cubes, room temperature
Rich double cream, to serve

Lightly grease the interior of six 125ml metal dariole moulds. Lightly dust the inside of the greased moulds with the cocoa powder, refrigerate until ready to use. Break chocolate into small pieces and melt in a large ceramic bowl for 1 minute on low power in a microwave. Stir with a spatula until smooth. Break the eggs into a separate bowl and gently beat together. In a small pan, bring the cream to a simmer. When it begins to boil, remove from heat and allow to cool for approximately 2 minutes. Add eggs slowly to warm chocolate and mix through. Add cream and gently whisk through. Add unsalted butter and mix until incorporated. Cover and allow to set in the fridge for about an hour. It should have the consistency of soft fudge. Preheat oven to 200C. Portion the mixture into six pieces and, using clean hands, roll into balls. Place each ball into the prepared moulds. Bake in the oven for 13 minutes or until the edges are cracked and the centre of the top is just soft and dome shaped. It will feel unset. Remove from oven and allow to cool for a minute in mould. Place a serving plate on top of the mould and gently upturn. Serve with cream.

Serves 6


LA VINA'S FAMOUS CHEESECAKE

Butter, softened, for greasing tin
7 whole eggs
1kg Philadelphia cream cheese
400g castor sugar
1 tbsp flour
500ml cream

Preheat the oven to 220C. Lightly grease a 25cm springform tin with butter. Line the bottom and sides of tin with baking paper, allow the paper to come 2-3cm above the edge of the sides. Using a pastry brush, grease the paper with softened butter. Crack the eggs into a bowl and mix well. Using an electric mixer, work cream cheese until smooth. Add the beaten eggs slowly, making sure each egg is incorporated into the cheese before adding more. Pour in sugar, flour and cream. Blend well until smooth. Pour mixture into the lined cake tin. Bake for 50 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely in the tin before unmoulding.

Barcelona-born Frank Camorra is the chef and co-owner of Melbourne's MoVida Bar de Tapas. He is opening Movida Sydney next month.

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