Saturday, January 1, 2011
Happy 2011, everyone! How have your holidays been? I hope you all had a great holiday season with family and friends. :) I certainly did! *hic*
This being my very first post for 2011, I wanted to make something special to herald in the new year. Well, here it is, the Mont Blanc that I have been meaning to make forever, but never did ... until now!
As you may well know, this cake - named after the tallest mountain in Western Europe - is hugely popular in Japan. So popular that you can find it virtually anywhere, even at the humble convenience store. Oh, I sure hope that by starting my blog year with a Mont Blanc, I will not only scale new heights but also return to Japan for more Mont Blancs! Haha!
Anyhow, I have never attempted this cake because of the (perceived) level of difficulty. But while doing Christmas shopping at Cold Storage, I saw cans of pureed chestnuts like this, and decided to Just Do It.
Perfect! I got hold of a can, with the intention of making a Mont Blanc for Christmas Eve dinner (it was Hubby's birthday too!). However, with my household being a democratic one, it was all (them) against one (me) ... and I ended up making a chocolate cake. Yawn.
But I promised myself that before the year was up, I would be eating my Mont Blanc no matter what! :) And so, on the final day of 2010, I finally did it. You'll be happy to know that it is actually quite easy to make ... as long as you have readymade chestnut puree on hand.
(largely adapted from Marc's No Recipes - good and fuss-free! See also Sherie's version of the same recipe.)
(A) For sponge base
I used my Hot Milk Sponge Cake instead of a genoise. I like it because the texture is light but still firm enough to hold its shape under that mountain (literally!) of cream and puree. By all means, if you have your favourite sponge cake recipe, use it.
You should pour the batter into two pans (mine was 6" x 9" x 3") so that you get a flatter cake. But I baked the cake whole because my oven is too small.
I used a round cutter (2 1/2") to make rounds, and then halved them horizontally.
(B) For chestnut puree
- 15 oz can of pureed chestnut
- 1/2 cup cream
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 vanilla bean*
* I used 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1. Slice the vanilla bean in half length wise and scrape the seeds into a small saucepan. Add the cream, sugar and whisk in the yolk. Heat over low heat, continually stirring until the mixture begins to thicken. Take the pan off the heat and allow the vanilla bean to steep while the mixture cools.
2. When the mixture is cool, put it in a food processor along with the pureed chestnuts. Blitz until smooth and creamy.* Put a spoonful of chestnut puree in the double mesh strainer over a bowl and press through using a spatula. Strain the rest of the chestnut puree, cover and set aside.
* I did not use a food processor. Instead, I handwhisked till as creamy as I could, and then put everything through a sieve (like pureeing baby food).
Tadah! Chestnut puree.
(C) For chestnut cream
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 3 tbsp powdered sugar
- 1/3 cup chestnut puree
1. In the clean dry bowl of an electric mixer, add 3/4 cup of heavy cream. Using the whisk attachment, beat until the cream holds soft peaks. Add the sugar and beat until the sugar is incorporated. Add 1/3 cup of the strained chestnut puree and mix until the cream holds firm peaks being careful not to over mix.
Note: Now, believe me when I say rum and chestnut cream are a match made in heaven. I added 1 tsp rum into the chestnut cream and the taste was elevated to a whole new level!
Must. Add. Rum!
Chestnut cream that was finger lickin' good. This stuff is gold.
Now, you can start putting all three components into a Mont Blanc!
Optional: If you feel that the sponge base is too dry, you can brush on a simple sugar solution, ie, boil equal parts water to sugar till everything dissolves, and then leave to cool (I also added a splash of rum to it for oopmh). Then brush the sugar solution onto the sponge before piping the cream. Pipe a generous dollop of chestnut cream in the centre.
Next, pipe the chestnut puree. There are piping tips you can buy to produce this spaghetti effect, but don't fret if you don't have one. I cut a hole in my piping bag and piped directly without any tip. You can pipe into a circular mound or into 'grids', as seen above. My Mont Blancs can hardly be described as beautiful, but they will do for a maiden attempt. :P Most of the time, Mont Blancs are topped with a chestnut that has been split in half ... or you can dust some icing sugar on, to give it that snow capped look. I didn't bother because I was too tired from all that insane piping.
Aside, my sister bought me a Mont Blanc as a birthday cake some years back, and I instantly fell in love with the ambrosial, velvety chestnut goodness. Now, I am just thrilled that I can finally make it myself ... and I know it will only get better. :) I hope you'll like this lovely cake as much as I adore it.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!