Apr 18, 2009

Monte Bianco

One fantastic summer of several years ago, I shot most of the action scenes of a film at 11,000 ft elevation at Helbronner Point on the Mont Blanc massiff, short of breath and estatic. To see the indescribable beauty of the silent montagna, you can take a virtual tour here.

The giant snow capped glacier colossus is reproduced in this amazing and likewise substantial dessert, also known by its francophone name 'Mont Blanc.'
  • 600 gr (3 cups) chestnuts, whole
  • 50 gr (1/4 cup) sugar
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 50 gr (1/4 cup) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 packet of vanillin, or 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 10 small meringues, crumbled
  • 250 ml (1 cup) fresh cream
  • Milk
With a sharp paring knife (or the appropriate implement) “castrate” the chestnuts by scoring a lengthwise incision on the skin of each, and boil in water for 10 minutes. Strain and peel once cool. Be sure to remove the thin inner husk as well.

Put the chestnuts in a saucepan and cover them with milk, add vanillin/vanilla extract and sugar, and cook over moderate heat for about 45 minutes.
Strain (saving the cooking milk) and mash with a food mill into a large mixing bowl, adding some cooking milk in order to obtain a soft yet thick purée. Let the blend cool while you work the butter and the egg yolk into a paste with the tines of a fork. Once they are cooler, add the eggy paste to the mashed chestnuts and relax for a moment while you put the stovetop moka on the fire for a nice cup of espresso.

Place the crumbled meringues on a round serving platter and pile on the chestnut mix, forming a mountain. Some like to use a potato ricer to make long spaghetti with the chestnut paste mix to build their mountain. I’m more a trowel-kind of girl, I spread my nutty plaster like stucco with a spatula.

Whip the cream and confectioners’ sugar with a hand mixer and evenly distribute on the pinnacle, designing snow patches, glaciers and crevasses to your own geologic whimsy, and refrigerate.
When ready to serve chilled, adorn the summit with a cocktail toothpick flag. Afterall you did conquer one of the hardest Italian desserts to make!


Image courtesy of Akiko Ida & Pierre Javelle
for the project Minimiam

click on the link for awesome food and fun images by these two genius artists

16 comments:

  1. Yum...

    thank you

    best wishes Ribbon

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  2. I seem to recall that there is a Hungarian dessert which is quite similar which I once tasted when in Budapest. Yum, slurp, yum!

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  3. Saw your link on Brian's blog and though I'd stop by. Will definitely be visiting again - great posts and pictures! That last one with the little people crawling is fun!

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  4. fyi...virtual tour link not working. great pics. love the mountains so this one is right up my (v)alley.

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  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  6. The photos are simply beautiful!
    It's looks like a very mystical area!
    I would like to try this recipe if I could find some nice chestnuts.
    Grazie!:)

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  7. What a fun dessert - art through cooking AND sculpture. Great for kids. Chestnuts are difficult to find here, are they easy to get in Rome? And, WOW, your talents seem to be endless - you are a film photographer as well?

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  8. Only you could turn a tale about a mountain into a fantastic looking cake.

    Love this post Lola.

    xoxo

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  9. I have never had chestnuts. This make them sound pretty appealing. As for the glacier trek. I'll leave that one to you.

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  10. I just saw your orange clock - very cool.

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  11. I never cease to be amazed by your blog!!! So much good writing and great recipes, how do you do it?

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  12. Ribbon - glad you enjoyed.

    Nicky - I didn't know that! That's why I love this blogalogue...

    DotCom - Thank you for stopping by! Visit the link below it for more food sculptures!

    Brian - Fixed it! Thank you

    Chuck - Worse case scenario, you can try with preserved chestnuts... but it's not the same thing.

    Jennifer - Rome in autumn smells like roasted chestnuts. We have many forests filled with them nearby. I'm a script supervisor (film crew).

    Renee - thank you my beloved one!

    LoriE - you should definitely try some pronto. They are wonderful,different, polyhedric and downright tasty.

    Chad Michael - Knew you'd appreciate...tee hee (couldn't find auspicious Moro variety)

    Saretta - Unemployment! The topic of time management needs a post to itself...

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  13. That dessert sound wonderful, but it would kill me as I'm very alergic to chestnuts, feel the same way about climbing mountains as well!! But the pics of all are divine.
    xx

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  14. HA! I wondered how you would marry the scenery so succinctly, but I knew it would come. Poor grimacing castrated chestnuts...

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  15. Mandy - Oh no! Allergic to all nuts or just chest ones?

    Erin - I pondered long on the verb "castrate" (can you tell I'm a little repressed lately?).

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