The giant snow capped glacier is reproduced in this amazing and likewise substantial dessert, also known by its francophone name 'Mont Blanc.'
600 g (3 cups) chestnuts, whole
50 g (1/4 cup) sugar
2 tbsp butter
1 egg yolk
50 g (1/4 cup) confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
10 small meringues, crumbled
250 ml (1 cup) fresh cream
With a sharp paring knife (or the appropriate implement) scoring the chestnuts with a lengthwise incision on the skin, then boil in water for 10 minutes. Strain and peel once cool. Be sure to remove the thin inner husk as well.
Put the peeled chestnuts in a saucepan and cover them with milk, add vanilla 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. After all you did conquer one of the hardest Italian desserts to make!
Image courtesy of Akiko Ida & Pierre Javelle Minimiam