This article is part of "The Chestnut Series":
Sweet and savoury bites with chestnuts should be anything but foreign to those who spent their childhood in Asia. Their passion for these sweet succulent fruits has reached the obsession level, yet never plateaued at their creative constructions with this jewel. From savoury soups within the Chinese medicinal culinary bible, to the velvety luscious sweet version, from the sweet roasted chestnuts with their mesmerising scent escaping through the cracked shells, to a piece of pastry where the crispy meringue, smooth puréed chestnuts and Crème Chantilly melt into a harmonious sensation, it is hardly a challenge to discover one invention that suits your palette.
Remembering my dislike in Mont-Blanc as a child is a thought that is as ancient as it foreign. My debut to this pâtisserie was with a cake slice that was assembled with two dominating sponge layers adhered with whipped cream and layers of puréed chestnuts that were minuscule in volume. It took an adventure in Paris, a Pâtisserie across from Musée Du Louvre, Angelina, to win my heart over this time-honoured French Dessert (there is almost nothing as poetic as devouring this treat on a wooden bench within the Jardin des Tuileries!).
A Mont Blanc (Italian Montebianco) is a cake or tart made of puréed chestnuts and whipped cream, often on a meringue base, and gets its name from the Mont Blanc mountains. Often sugar or cream will decorate the top of a Monte Blanc to resemble snow-capped mountains. It is a popular dessert in Hungary. In Hungary it is known as "gesztenyepüré" (literally chestnut puree).
This dessert dates back to 1475 in an Italian cook book from 1475, and was often served in the home of Cesare and Lucrezia Borgia. It became popular in France in the 17th century. Some sources claim that the cake was either invented at the Angelina cafe in France or in the Jiyūgaoka district of Tokyo.
Originally Mont Blancs were yellow, by using chestnuts sweetened through a pickling process. However, it has become increasingly more common to find light, or even dark brown Mont Blanc, utilizing the true colour of the chestnut.
The modernisation of Mont-Blanc has incorporated the use of Autumn pickings from the garden, such as pumpkin, squash, and purple yam in place of chestnut. Though I am often fond of fusion ideas, chestnuts can never be replaced in a true Mont-Blanc!
It has been an adventure to be on a quest to discover nouvelle patisseries that feature the Mont-Blanc, and here is one of my favourites, from Le Tao patisserie in Otaru, Hokkaido, Japan. Please do share with me of your own favourites!
....traditional meringue base, with whipped cream that was lighter than Crème Chantilly, and chestnut puree that was made with Japan origin Marrons. The fragrant of this fruit was lingering on your taste buds after every bite. Délicieux~!