This Chocolate Fondant Cake is a delicious recipe from La Baule, and is possibly one of the most well-kept culinary secrets in France… (updated recipe – January 2019).
La Baule is a picturesque seaside resort town on the Atlantic coast, where beautiful stoned-façade villas and casinos mass along stunning sand beaches. It is a beloved weekend getaway spot for Parisians, who yearn for a slower, sun-bathed atmosphere and some fresh Atlantic air.
In 1980, in his little shop in La Baule, a man known only as “Mr. Denis” invented a chocolate delicacy with a taste and a texture like no other. Its thin crust, velvety texture and delicate notes of salted caramel quickly made this “Fondant Baulois” an institution for locals from La Baule. And since then, most tourists spending their holidays in the beautiful sea-side city have been making it a point to grab a slice of this regional specialty.
The recipe has been kept secret by the family for the past 39 years (which I am sure adds to the whole prestige around it). And there are now many bakers around who attempt to recreate the iconic Chocolate Fondant cake from La Baule.
For my attempt to this recipe, I have drawn inspiration from Bernard’s recipe (one of my favorite French food bloggers), who claims to have found – after many, many tries – the most accurate possible recipe.
After many, many tries myself, I chose to slightly adjust his recipe to create a heftier Fondant Baulois to fit an 8-inch circular pan (Bernard’s recipe is much smaller). It makes for a thick, dense, creamy and deeply chocolatey fondant that bears a signature crust on top. The combination of salted butter and cane sugar delivers the salty caramel notes that are so unique to the Fondant Baulois … and the taste and texture are simply to die for.
Now, is this recipe the true Fondant Baulois? I guess no one could ever really tell – expect for the keepers of the authentic recipe (Marie-Sophie and Stéphane Boullier, developers of the Fondant Baulois trademark). But I like to think the recipe I share, is very, very close.
Unquestionably, this iconic French cake is something you should enjoy at least once in your life – whether you make a visit to beautiful La Baule to grab a slice, or you attempt to make it at home.
- This recipe is easy, but it is about precise proportioning – which is why I recommend using a scale so you can work in grams. For the eggs, you need exactly 215g – which is about 4 large eggs. Break the 4 eggs in a separate bowl first, weight them and remove some of the white if needed, to make it exactly 215g.
- Use good-quality dark chocolate; this will make a big difference. I like the 70% cocoa Excellence Dark Chocolate by Lindt (this is not an ad, I simply love it, and it works great in this cake).
- Don’t rush the recipe – the batter needs to rest 2 hours at room temperature before baking. This resting period allows the air bubbles in the batter to gravitate to the top, which will create the thin meringue crust at the top of the cake. Once baked, the cake needs to be chilled overnight to properly set and firm up, before being enjoyed.
- Because this cake is so delicate, you need a spring form pan (8-inch ideally), or it will be quite difficult to remove it from a classic pan).
5 ½ oz dark chocolate, chopped (160g)(70% cocoa)
¾ cup salted butter (185g)
¾ cup cane sugar (190g)
1/2 tsp salt
4 large eggs (215g)
3 ½ tbsp (28g) all purpose flour
In a medium sized sauce pan, over medium heat and in a bain-marie, melt together the chocolate and salted butter.
Grease the inner rim of a 8-inch (20.32cm) spring-form pan with butter and line a circle of parchment paper at the bottom.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the cane sugar, salt and eggs for 5 minutes. The sugar should be totally dissolved and the mixture should look slightly foamy at the top.
Add in the flour and whisk until just incorporated. Add in the chocolate and butter mixture, and stir with a spatula until fully incorporated.
After 2 hours, pre-heat your oven to 350°F (180°C).
Bake the cake for 50 to 55 minutes. The cake top should have a thin light crust at the top, but the middle should still wobble a bit.
Let the cake cool to room temperature on a rack. Once cool, cover with plastic film or place it in a large tupperware and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, remove the cake from the pan and let it sit at room temperature for at least 15 minutes before enjoying. For slicing, use a long sharp knife that you dip in warm water between slices.
If you try this Chocolate Fondant Cake from La Baule recipe let me know! Leave a comment or share a photo using #pardonyourfrench on Instagram. Bon Appétit!
A recipe translated and adapted from La Cuisine de Bernard.