October 20, 2004
white mountains on the tropical island
Friday, October 15
My sister was here visiting us in Hawaii this past week, and we were going places here and there, being busy watching things that this island has to offer, all at the same time me having work to do. I wanted to cook for her as much as possible while she was here, but I couldn't find time to do so as much as I had hoped... but at least I managed to make something she LOVES: mont blanc.
I am not sure how popular this dessert is here in this country, but mont blanc is a dessert made of meringue, whipped cream, and chestnut cream whose name seems to come from its resemblance in appearance, apparently, to the French Alp moutain Mont Blanc.
This chestnut dessert has a huge popularity in Japan, in so much that you would find some sort of stuff called mont blanc in virtually every cake shop you stumble across, and I am not exaggerating (unless it is purely a domestic Japanese-style sweet shop). My sister loves it and whenever I hear about a cake shop that has good mont blanc, I'd thought of her.
Even so, I don't think I had ever made one myself, mainly because the complicated process involved in making ones - making meringue, creme chantilly, chestnut cream, and putting them all together. That said, there aren't really very difficult procedures as long as you have good creme de marron or sweetened chestnut paste, but I have been way too lazy to make something that I need more than two mixing bowls.
But I somehow brought myself to try it, taking this opportunity for treating my sister who came to see me all the way from Japan. I began by looking for a good, easy recipe and settled down with this one (in Japanese, but you can see an image of the dessert). I had a decent jar of creme de marron from France, quality chestnuts in syrup from Italy, and aromatic rum from France (mellower than Myers's)
While an authentic mont blanc is supposed to have meringue as a base, I couldn't really bother to make one myself and I don't fancy meringue anyways, so I decided to make it in a tartlette (small tart) form. I made sweet tart shells using this recipe (also in Japanese), a rich dough using groung almonds.
Tartlette shells were now ready (burnt, though) and making creme chantilly (whipping heavy cream) and chestnut cream (whipping creme de marron and butter) was really nothing, and here came the most challenging part of all - composition. Now, I didn't even have a pastry bag OR tip, and all I could do was using regular plastic bags for piping the cream, and that was basically what I did. I placed tartlette shells, put creme chantilly, then one chestnut on top of each, mounted creme chantilly again, dusted with cocoa powder, then piped chestnut cream.
I first attempted to make my mont-blanc looking like the one seen in the image in the recipe linked above, but I quickly changed my plan, due to an insurmountable difficulty in terms of - eh - skills, if I have to tell you. So I ended up with ones in a bit different style, but it was okay, as I have seen many mont blanc with chestnut cream piped like this, even though those made by professional patissiers would sure look by far fancier and sophisticated. Oh, I didn't forget to dust them with confectioners' sugar to make sure the small goodies would be true to their name mont blanc, or white mountain, but by the time I shot these pictures the "snow" had melted away for the most part...
And most importantly, my mini mont blanc tartlettes pleased my sister a lot, who excitedly gobbled up one when she came home from going to surf. They had such a mellow, airy texture you'd think you can eat up a couple of them at once easily, but beware, the truth is, they aren't light at all with a sinful amount of cream and butter (and sugar from chestnuts products) concentrated into one small tartelette.
By the way, after the mont-blanc treat, we went off for a stay in Waikoloa on the west side for a weekend. On the way we passed a heavily-raining area and then saw a gorgeous rainbow on the horizon. It was so huge I couldn't have the whole thing in one picture, so I tried and caught it in two separate pictures and then put them together - not very successfully, as you can see (I do have a software for that, but it didn't quite work this time). But I guess you can still get a general idea of how big it was.
(Click on the image for a larger view)
posted by chika at: 10/20/2004 01:40:00 PM