Chocolate Sauce (yield: 2 2/3 cups)
1 generous cup whole milk
10.5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
½ cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 cup plus 2½ tablespoons unsalted butter, plus softened butter for coating molds
Granulated sugar (for coating molds)
17.7 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup plus 1½ Tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
8 large egg whites
⅓ cup Meringue powder
½ cup granulated sugar
To Assemble and Serve:
1 cup heavy cream, whipped to stiff peaks
Candied orange or grapefruit peels
For the Chocolate Sauce:
Pour milk into heavy-bottomed saucepan, place over medium-high heat, and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add hot chocolate; whisk well to combine. Set Aside. Combine the heavy cream, butter, and sugar in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Once the mixture has come to a boil, pour into the warm ganache.
Place the sauce over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, stirring constantly with a whisk. When it reaches a boil, remove it from the heat and pour it into a clean, dry bowl. Cover by placing plastic wrap directly on top of the sauce to prevent a skin from forming. Let the chocolate sauce cool to room temperature before storing in the refrigerator. When cold, the chocolate sauce will become thick enough to be scooped with a spoon. To reheat, simply microwave for 30-second intervals until it becomes liquid, or heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until liquid.
For the Fondant:
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Use a pastry brush to evenly coat the inside of 14 individual 3-ounce molds with softened butter. Fill each mold with granulated sugar; then pour out the excess. The butter and sugar will keep the fondants from sticking to the sides of the molds and allow them to rise evenly. The sugar will also give the fondants a crunchy crust, which makes a great contrast to the soft interior. Melt the 1 cup and 2½ tablespoons of butter in 2-quart heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. Remove from the heat. Add the chopped chocolate, cocoa powder, and salt and stir until well combined and all the chocolate has melted.
Place the egg whites in a large mixing bowl and whip with an electric mixer on medium speed until foamy. If using the meringue powder, combine it with the sugar in a small bowl. (The meringue powder contains a high quantity of albumin, which will add strength and allow for a stiffer meringue.) Increase mixer speed to medium-high and make a French meringue by adding the sugar mixture 1 tablespoon at a time and whipping the egg whites to stiff but not dry peaks.
Gently but quickly fold the warm chocolate mixture into the meringue until combined. Be careful not to deflate the mixture, or your baked fondants will be flat and heavy. The mixture should be homogenous in color. However, if you can still see streaks of meringue in it, that's okay.
Place the batter in a large pastry bag with a large opening. The pastry bag will be easier to handle if you fill it only half full; you will probably need to refill the bag two or three times to use all of the batter. Pipe the molds ¾ full with batter. (At this stage, the molded fondants can be stored in the freezer for up to 2 weeks, well wrapped in plastic wrap. Thaw in the refrigerator for 2 hours before baking.) Bake the fondants until they have risen about ½-inch over the top of the mold, 7 to 10 minutes.
To Assemble and Serve:
Place the whipped cream in a pastry bag fitted with a star tip and pipe rosettes onto each serving plate. Garnish with candied orange or grapefruit peels. Remove the fondants from the oven and immediately invert each one over the center of a plate. Lightly tap the bottom and shake slightly to allow the fondant to gently drop from the mold. Cover the fondants with chocolate sauce and serve. When you cut into the fondant, the center should still be somewhat liquid.