Photo of mont blanc
, in a meringue cup instead of a fettuccini nest, courtesy of Delia Online
Updated February 2009
Page 2: Chocolate Fettuccine Mont Blanc
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On The Menu
Chocolate Fettuccine Mont Blanc
One of the most beloved desserts in France is Mont Blanc aux Marrons—sweetened chestnut purée mounded into a mountain shape with a pastry bag, complete with a whipped cream “snow cap,” and named in honor of the highest mountain peak in the Alps (and in all of Western Europe).
Ironically, the first mention of the dish is in an Italian cookbook of 1475. Not until 150 years later, in 1620, did it travel across the border, where a baker in the border town of Chamonix claimed to have invented it. For this reason alone, but also because part of Mont Blanc itself is in France, part in Italy, it’s more than appropriate to replace the meringue with a nest of chocolate pasta.
Look in specialty food stores or Italian supermarkets: chocolate fettuccine is a classic accompaniment to wild boar ragu and venison.
This recipe comesmfrom The New York Times Cookbook of James Beard. While Beard’s recipe is classic, variations include serving the Mont Blanc inside a large meringue cup, serving small meringues on the side, and/or adding an accompaniment of marrons glacées.
For the “mountain”
- 3 pounds fresh chestnuts or one can (1 pound, 15 ounces) chestnut purée
- 1 vanilla bean (can be re-used if you’re using fresh chestnuts)
- 3 cups milk
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons butter
For the syrup
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 6 tablespoons water
For “snow peaks”
- 1-½ cups whipping cream, chilled
- 1 to 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 egg white at room temperature
- 2 squares semisweet chocolate, grated
- Fettuccine or linguini, chocolate or regular
- To prepare the chestnuts, cut an X on the top of each and set them in a saucepan of cold water. Bring to boil, boil for 1 minute and remove from the flame. Drain the chestnuts, pour cold water over top to cover, and before the chestnuts become cool, peel off and discard the outer and inner skins.
- In the top of a double boiler, scald the milk together with ¼ cup of the sugar and the vanilla bean. Add the peeled chestnuts and cook over boiling water until the chestnuts are very tender (about 30 minutes). Drain the chestnuts and purée them in a food processor or food mill.
- Boil the water and sugar, stirring regularly until it forms a thin sugar syrup (this will happen rather quickly). Set aside to cool. When cool, beat enough 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 you are using canned chestnut puree and it is thin enough to be piped, you can sweeten with sugar; or else use the sugar syrup.
- Fit a pastry bag with 1/8-inch plain tip and fill with purée.
- Make whipped cream topping: in a dry, chilled bowl, beat the cream until stiff, then add sugar to taste and vanilla. Beat egg white in separate bowl until stiff peaks form, then fold into cream. Place cream mixture into pastry bag fitted with star tip.
- Arrange fettuccine or linguini in nests and pipe chestnut purée in the center to create a small mountain. Pipe the whipped cream mixture in center, piling it high. Sprinkle grated chocolate over whipped cream and chill until serving time.
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