As soon as the weather in Switzerland starts to take a dip, the roasted chestnut carts magically appear and I know that my favourite dessert will soon be in all of the pâtisserie shops. Roasted chestnuts alone are a gorgeous treat, especially since they also perform a double function as lovely hand warmers, but one of my favourite ways of enjoying chestnuts is in a simple Mont Blanc dessert.
A Mont Blanc, in its simplest form, is a bed of sweetened chestnuts topped with whipped cream and crushed meringue. It is sometimes served in small pastry tarts or even with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream on the side. In countries like Switzerland, Germany and Austria, a Mont Blanc dessert is often called Vermicelles, referring to the noodle-like strands which the chestnuts typically resemble.
My favourite version of the Mont Blanc dessert, which I buy from my local bakery, is served with a chocolate meringue. So being a French-Australian family, it felt only natural to combine my love of this dessert with an Aussie pavlova. Here, I have made a large chocolate pavlova, topped it with a generous mound of sweetened chestnuts before covering it with a duvet of softly whipped cream.
For something a bit different this Christmas, this Mont Blanc pavlova will wow and delight your family and friends.
The recipe is detailed below and is also featured over at Khoollect.
- For the Chocolate Pavlova:
- 3 egg whites
- 180 g (6.35 oz) caster sugar
- 1½ teaspoons cornflour
- 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
- 1½ tablespoons cocoa, sifted
- 50 g (2 oz) dark chocolate, roughly chopped
- For the Chestnut Purée:
- 375 g (13 oz) cooked chestnuts (tinned or vacuum-packed)
- 200 ml (7 fl oz) full-cream milk, plus extra
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons rum or kirsch
- 100 g (3.5 oz) caster sugar
- For the Cream Topping:
- 250 ml (1 cup) double cream
- dark chocolate, for decorating
- To make the pavlova:
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) and line a baking tray with baking paper.
- Using a standmixer or electric beaters, whisk the egg whites until they have tripled in volume and stiff peaks form.
- Turn the speed down to low and slowly add the sugar, one tablespoon at a time, until it is well-incorporated.
- Stir through the cornflour, vinegar and cocoa.
- Finally, stir through the chopped chocolate.
- Spoon the pavlova mixture onto the baking tray into a round shape.
- Use a palette knife to shape the sides of the pavlova and to flatten the top (so the topping will not slide off later).
- Place the pavlova into the oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 150°C (300°F).
- Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
- Turn off the oven (but don’t open the door) and leave the pavlova to cool and dry in the oven with the door closed.
- To make the chestnut purée:
- Place the chestnuts, milk, vanilla extract and rum into a medium saucepan.
- Simmer gently until the chestnuts have softened and can be mashed easily with a wooden spoon, and most of the milk has been absorbed.
- Take the pan off the heat and mash the chestnuts with a potato masher until you have a smooth purée - you might need to add some more milk if the mixture is too thick.
- Return the pan to the heat, stir through the sugar, and cook for a few minutes until the mixture binds together. Set aside to cool.
- To assemble:
- Just before serving, whip the cream until soft peaks form.
- Place a generous layer of the chestnut purée on top of the pavlova. To achieve the characteristic noodle strands, you will need to pipe the mixture using a spaghetti or grass nozzle (some countries sell a nozzle specifically for chestnut purée), or you can achieve a similar effect by pushing the chestnut purée through a potato ricer. If the chestnut purée is too thick or too firm, stir through some milk to soften the mixture. If you don’t have a special nozzle or potato ricer, simply spread the chestnut purée over the pavlova using a palette knife.
- Dollop the whipped cream on top of the chestnut purée, and grate over some chocolate to decorate.
I like to make the pavlova first thing in the morning so that it can slowly cool and dry in the oven until I need to serve it later in the evening.
The chestnut purée can be made a couple of days in advance and kept in an airtight container in the fridge.
If you don’t have time to make your own chestnut purée, you can find sweetened chestnut purée in supermarkets or specialty stores, such as this one by Clement Faugier.
The pavlova is best assembled just prior to serving so that the pavlova does not become soggy from the cream and chestnut topping.
Share your photos!
If you have used this recipe, I would love to hear how it turned out! Please leave a comment below and share your photos on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter using #eatlittlebird