This French recipe, known as Mont Blanc ("white mountain"), features chestnut purée piled on top of meringue rounds that are topped with whipped cream for a classic dessert.
Since a raw egg white is incorporated into the whipped cream, make sure you use pasteurized eggs.
- For the Meringue:
- 4 large room-temperature egg whites
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 cup minus 1 tablespoon sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon vanilla
- For the Chestnut Purée:
- 3 pounds fresh chestnuts or 1 (31-ounce) can chestnut purée
- 1 vanilla bean (if using fresh chestnuts)
- 3/4 cup water
- 1/3 cup sugar
- For the Whipped Cream:
- 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 1 to 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 large room-temperature pasteurized egg white
- For Garnish:
- 2 squares grated semisweet chocolate
Make the Meringues
- Heat oven to 250. Grease a baking sheet, sprinkle with flour, and mark 1 (9-inch) circle or 10 (3 1/2- inch) circles (this may require more than one baking sheet).
- In a large bowl, beat 4 egg whites with salt until foamy. Add cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form.
- Beat in 2 tablespoons sugar until mixture holds long, stiff peaks when beater is lifted. Fold in remaining sugar and vanilla.
- Place in pastry bag fitted with 1/2-inch plain tube and pipe 1 large round or 10 small ones onto prepared baking sheet. Bake 1 hour or until meringue is firm to the touch. If meringues brown during baking, reduce heat. Transfer meringues to rack and let cool.
Make the Chestnut Purée
- Heat oven to 375. Peel chestnuts using a small, sharp knife and leaving the inner skin on.
- Place chestnuts in a shallow ovenproof dish and bake 10 to 15 minutes, or until skin dries and peels off easily. Rub nuts in rough cloth to remove skins.
- Place peeled and skinned nuts in a saucepan with vanilla bean and water to cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 25 to 30 minutes, or until very tender. Remove vanilla bean (it can be rinsed and reused).
- Drain chestnuts then put through a food mill or food processor, and purée until smooth.
- In a small saucepan, briefly boil together 3/4 cup water and 1/3 cup sugar to make a thin sugar syrup. Set aside to cool.
- When cool, beat enough of this syrup into the chestnut purée to make it thin enough to pipe through a pastry bag but still thick enough to hold its shape. If using canned purée, sweeten to taste, making sure it is thin enough to be piped. Fit pastry bag with 1/8-inch plain tube and fill with purée.
Make the Whipped Cream
- In a medium bowl, beat cream until stiff, with 1 to 2 tablespoons sugar or to taste and 1 teaspoon vanilla.
- In a separate small bowl, beat pasteurized egg white until stiff peaks form, then fold into cream. Place cream mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a star tip.
Assemble the Mont Blancs
- Arrange meringues on a serving platter and pipe chestnut purée into a bird's-nest shape around the edge of each meringue.
- Pipe cream mixture in the center, piling it high. Sprinkle grated chocolate over whipped cream and chill until serving time.
Source: "Best of Bon Appetit" (Knapp Press)