Mont Blanc (Meringue and Chestnut Cream Mountain)
With only three main ingredients – meringue, whipped cream and sweetened chestnut cream – there’s really not much to this dessert. And if you’re short of time, you could even get away with buying the ingredients ready-made and just assembling them before serving. Traditionally the chestnut cream should be thick enough to be piped, but I like mine a little runnier, so that I can pour it over the meringues and cream to make them look like mini mountains – hence the name Mont Blanc.
|For the meringues:|
|90g||egg whites (roughly 3 medium egg whites)|
|A couple of drops of lemon juice|
|A pinch of salt|
|For the chestnut cream:|
|200g||cooked chestnuts (from a jar or tin is fine)|
|30g||golden caster sugar|
|1.5 tbsp||Cognac (optional)|
To make the meringues, preheat the oven to 80°C and line a baking tray with baking paper. Put half the egg whites into a clean glass or metal bowl. Add the sugar, lemon juice and salt and whisk until snow white. Add the rest of the egg whites and continue whisking until the meringue forms stiff peaks.
Spoon 4 heaped peaks of meringue onto the prepared tray (ideally they should look like mini mountains). Bake for 2 hours or until crisp, opening the oven door a few times to release any steam.
Remove them from the paper and leave to cool on a wire rack. (Once cold, the meringues can be kept in an air tight container for a good couple of days.)
To make the chestnut cream, split the vanilla pod in half lengthways and scrape out the grains. Put the pod and grains into a pot with the rest of the ingredients and bring to a simmer on a medium heat. Simmer for 10 minutes or until the chestnuts are soft and slightly mushy. Remove the vanilla pod and whizz the chestnuts to a soft, creamy purée in an electric blender. Chill until needed (it will keep for up to a week in an air tight container).
To assemble, whip the cream to soft peaks. Place the meringues on individual plates, spoon over the whipped cream and pour over the chestnut cream (if it has set too thick, whisk in some double cream).
Serve straight away.