- it is single serving – plating time!
- it is a classic
- it is very bizarre looking, and I’ve been a bit obsessed with making it (aesthetic reasons only)
I had reservations about this dessert because:
- I hates chestnut.
- no but seriously, they are gross.
- I don’t get why people like chestnut.
What’s a Mont Blanc, anyway?
Apparently invented by Austrian Antoine Rumpelmeyer, Pastry Chef at Angelina (1903) in Paris, where they continue to serve his original recipe of chantilly, meringue, and sweetened chestnut paste.
When I started working at the café, we sold chestnut paste in a tube. People would come in and swoon over it, recalling delicious childhood memories of chestnut paste and whipping cream. I was horrified. The idea of squirting brown paste from a tube onto a plate and covering with with whipped cream sounded frivolous, undelicious, and the image it conjured in my brain was ugly.
Then I saw rows of what looked like edible balls of yarn in a book on Parisian pastry, and low and behold, they were the “delicacy” I had always feared. Here it is…
I made the following changes:
- no sablée, mostly because I didn’t feel like it, though I would have done it if I had more time
- no crème fraîche, I used plain old boring whipped cream instead
- I whipped the store bought sweetened vanilla chestnut paste with butter because, again, I was admittedly trying to play down the whole chestnut thing
- I used cara cara oranges and glacé orange to give it another dimension – I mean, Migoya’s addition of milk chocolate is great, but I wanted some citrus in there to cut the sweetness
- I made it straight-up traditional-like. Migoya’s instructions on how to assemble this was too much for my brain and my tiny kitchen and I have other things to do on my weekends then try to make weird cakes I can hardly conceptualize. And besides, the traditional way looks like a mound of sweet, brown spaghetti.
Chestnut Financier (pg. 178)
80g Almond Flour
80g Cake (or Brown Rice) Flour
3g Baking Powder
122g Browned Butter
200g Egg Whites
6 Roasted Chestnuts, peeled and chopped
30g Glacé Orange bits
Preheat: 345 Celsius
Brown butter, cool. Combine dry thoroughly. Stir in whites, then drizzle in butter (this recipe is small, so by hand is fine, but is easier in a stand mixer). Pour batter onto 9×13” sheet pan lined with parchment and spread evenly. This will bake up to about half an inch. Sprinkle with chestnuts and orange. Bake until done (about five minutes after you smell the chestnut).
80g Egg Whites
80g Icing sugar
Whip whites, adding sugar after they’ve frothed if you wanna go old-school text-book style, or just dump the sugar in and do some other stuff while your whites whip. They aren’t a baby, they don’t need you to mother them. Once they are medium peak, add the icing sugar, then turn them on high for the final 30 seconds. Fold in orange zest. With a 6mm piping tip (or one that’s medium sized) pipe 2” discs. Dry in a 150 degree oven until completely dry. Probably 3 hours, but maybe more.
Milk Chocolate Mousse (variation of recipe on pg.179)
275g Milk Chocolate
95g Dark Chocolate
5g Gelatin (used Knox) bloomed
Whip all but 75g cream to medium and reserve chilled (I whipped an extra 60g and set that aside to replace the Crème Fraîche chantilly at the same time). Be sure to chop chocolate finely. Bring milk to a boil. Pour over chocolate and stir until completely melted. Allow to cool to 30 degrees C. Take 75g of cream and heat, add gelatin be sure it dissolves. Add to chocolate. Fold chocolate into Cream.
Have some kind of mold ready. I used an aluminum demi-sphere. I like this because it fits in my freezer, is easy to unmold the perfect half-spheres it forms, and doesn’t require cumbersome trays like silicone molds do. Also, super easy to clean.
Fill half the mold, and pull the mousse up the sides with a palette knife so you don’t have any embarrassing air pockets. Chill for 15 minutes in freezer. Place a meringue guy in there, then pipe on some of that saved whipped cream. Chill 15 minutes if you are a stickler for perfection, or just throw that chocolate mousse on there, top with your rounds of financier, and wipe the sides clean. Freeze at least 3 hours before unmolding.
This is one of my top 5 pastry tools. It burns sugar. It frees cakes and ice creams from rings and pans. It has an ergonomic handle and auto-starter with pressure control so you don’t have to stop and adjust the gas half-way through burning things or search for a lighter a server never gave back during your smoke-break. We had plain old boring propane canisters with burner attachments at the bistro when I first started and it would take 2 minutes to burn a crème brulée. That means it would take over an hour to do a banquet of just 60 people (longer because of the time it would take to adjust the flame based on the amount of gas in the canister or re-lights). Then, one day, after discovering during service the night before that the school’s instructors or students had stolen all of my full propane tanks and replaced them with one sad, barely hissing, eggy-smelling so-empty-it-wouldn’t-light tank, Chef came in with the BERNZ-O-MATIC and my life was altered forever. This baby burns a crème brulée in 30 seconds. SECONDS. I became a brulée champion. Buy one, love it like your first born.
This was the part I loathed. This can goop is so sweet and so confusing in flavour. I threw it in the stand mixer with some soft butter (3:1 ratio, less butter if you like chestnuts) and whipped it smooth. I can’t take credit for this, Lenôtre does it this way, so it can’t be wrong.
I piped it. A poor showing on my first try, but such is life. I froze it.
Spray Station Action!
I found, in a health food store of all places, this white chocolate that had the whitest colouring added to it, it looks like a block of white-out. Of course, I had to purchase such an unnatural beast because I refuse to order white chocolate-dye online. My reason being only that I am stubborn. I dislike the idea of consuming this product in mass quantities, so I am to use it solely for spraying shit with the chocolate paint gun. Again, 34 degrees seems about right for this, unless you want a shiny, even coat, and then the recommended 38 degrees is good. Ratio is 1:1 scary white chocolate and cocoa butter.
So here we have it. I plated it on slate cause, well, it’s cool, and cause the Mont Blanc is a sugary ode to the snowy Alps. Or something. Over on the right there is some powdered orange meringue business, the bottom we have some glacé orange and supreme Cara Caras in it’s juice — a reduction infused with roasted chestnut shells and a drip or two of spiced Canadian Whisky. The orange reduction, admittedly, was my favourite part of this dessert.
All I can say is the mousse needed some more ooomph, which I adjusted in the recipe with the dark chocolate addition, and though the financier was very good on its own, it was lost in the beige of the Mont Blanc. If I made this again, which is doubtful, I’d soak that financier up with that tasty reduction situation.
If I eat one of these in Paris next month, I’ll admit if it enlightens me to the way of the chestnut lovers.