I never adored Fantales as a kid, but I have strong memories of them nonetheless. Most summer holidays through high school, my horse-riding friend (HRF) and I would go on holiday with our shared extra-grandparents (EGs) and our horses, to the EG’s daughter’s place in Gippsland. Each time we would stock up on snacks for the car trip as if our lives depended on it. In my memory the car trip was very long, hours and hours and hours, necessitating all manner of snacks, horsey magazines and games. We had Minties, Kool Mints, M&Ms, Sherbet Bombs and my HRF always had Fantales. For those not in the know, Fantales are really a lengthy game in a tiny, chocolatey-caramelly cube – you eat the lolly; there are celebrity trivia questions and answers on the wrapper; and when you’ve grilled each other over the trivia you can compete to see who can rip their wrapper painstakingly into the longest ribbon. It’s hazy now, but presumably when we were done eating our body weight in sugar and discussing Danny DeVito’s career, we filled in the time jimmying molten sugar out of our braces. Incidentally, this time did nothing to improve my ability to retain celebrity information – I still cannot readily distinguish between Ed Harris, Bruce Willis and the short guy in the terrible movie about water.
So, Fantales. Though I will never love them as much as my HRF did, they are still excellent and this dessert is both a grown-up version and a legitimate part of a meal. It has also blog-hopped around a bit – I found it at A Cozy Kitchen, where it had come from Trish Deseine via The Wednesday Chef. This recipe came into my life after a meal out at The Commoner, where Alex had a droolworthy dessert of brown ale pudding with salted caramel sauce. Googling did not reveal a recipe for brown ale pudding (please, if you have one – tell me about it) but it did lead me to…
Salted Caramel Chocolate Mousse
1/2 a cup of granulated sugar
3/4 of a cup of thickened cream, warmed to room temperature
2 1/2 tablespoons of room temperature unsalted butter
1/2 a teaspoon of sea salt
210 grams of dark chocolate
3 eggs, separated
Put the sugar into a medium saucepan with two tablespoons of water.
Heat this over medium-high heat, swirling but not stirring, until brown – this is the step where you can really set the flavour to your own preference. The first time I made this I held back tentatively, not really letting the sugar caramelise. the result was sweet and salty mousse, morish but with no edge. The last time, I heeded the words of Nicole Kaplan and let the caramel go and go. The final mousse was very different – the bitterness of caramel on the edge, side by side with sweet, smoky dark chocolate and the tang of salt.
When your sugar is just how you want it, take it off the heat and add your butter and salt, stirring to deglaze the pan. Pour in the cream, whisking to combine.
Add your chocolate and leave it for a few minutes to melt into the caramel.
Then, add the yolks to the pan and whisk thoroughly.
Whisk the egg whites until firm peaks form, then fold gently into the caramel-chocolate mixture.
Pour into ramekins – I used six, but you could use eight to lessen the chances of sinking into a diabetic coma with each serve.
Sprinkle with a little extra sea salt.
Refrigerate for a few hours until set then serve with or without a bit of whipped cream.
Egg-wise, for my last version of this I used three of Lola’s – small and creamy coloured, each one about two-thirds the weight of one of Agnes’s. This was not by design, but they were all that were on hand at the time. Happily I didn’t notice any difference in the end result, despite the smaller volume of egg white.