As the last of the conga of caravans wobble their wearisome way home, the remaining coach touring ‘white tops’ and stragglers drizzle away their afternoons in the bric-a-brac and ye olde tea shoppes.
A well-defined blissful autumn segways rapidly into dreek shivery winter, it’s time to address and make preparation for the inevitable holiday season.
No decorations or proper prep here until December but it’s definitely time to kennel up, don winter woollies, fish out the vintage fairy lights plan, prepare, freeze, make and store whilst there is still a little time to phaph. With a good heart and an all-conquering ambition to spoil and please we start our seasonal assault by scaling the dizzy heights of a frozen Mont Blanc.
Some of last years chestnuts took it upon themselves to shoot so I planted them in a trough, and they are now weathering their first cold snap and seem keen to grow into trees, of all things!
The endless variations of this traditional délice all are ‘homages’ to the original, the loudest accolades are echoed from Angelina’s Parisienne Patisserie on the Rue de Rivoli, a Cathedral of Cake if ever there was.
The version at Angelina has a meringue base (I have also used many alternatives including a simple sponge with matcha, another with coffee essence, a store-bought flan base drizzled with Cointreau, sliced brioche drizzled with Mozart liqueur, both sablè and breton biscuit bases too, let it be known that one is not a slave to the minutia of tradition).
The base is dressed with a luxe Chantilly cream (whipped cream with icing sugar and vanilla) and then the pièce de résistance a chestnut cream which looks like wholewheat vermicelli, I achieve this with the aid of an ancient potato ricer which proffers an excellent opportunity to forget adulthood for a while.
Set on a thin layer of sponge, cake, meringue, sablè or Breton biscuit et al my versions are usually made in cheffy rings, lined with acetate from box tops, these are useful to stop clutter damage in the freezer, clever people spray the inside with a fine mist of non stick cake spray, when they remember. You can also use cupcake or muffin liners, set as a terrine, adding the wiggly top coat just before serving or as here where I have made a large coffee meringue shell, (the rich colour develops during the cooking and then leave to cool with the oven door open to prevent cracking) the interior was laid with a tub of good quality, store-bought, vanilla ice cream and then enveloped in mascarpone and chestnut silly string styled loveliness. Once decorated with slices of Marrons Glaces (how loving was I to share) it looked utterly fab, snowy peaks with a merest hint of Doogle from the Magic Roundabout. I returned with camera in tow but whoosh it had disappeared before I could take photos for you!
Combine mascarpone, vanilla chestnut purée with a pinch of salt and a little icing sugar to taste. Mix briefly to combine and then pipe with a very fine nozzle or force through a potato ricer to give the original and laborious iced worm cast effect, serve onto pre dressed plates or freeze immediately. The chestnut mascarpone mix freezes well to make an excellent chestnut ice cream too.
For dairy intolerant chums: Maybe a chestnut ice cream made coconut milk or a custard base using hazelnut milk? Make your ice cream custard by adding a little cornflour or agar agar to obtain a good set and delight your non dairy guests.
Nut allergies: a coffee mocha mascarpone option?
Gluten free: a meringue base or suitable biscuit?
For a diabetic option: Set on to an appropriate biscuit base. Add a little xylitol to whipped cream to make a silly frilly Chantilly. Mix chestnut puree with ripe banana and mascarpone and squidge and squiggle with reckless abandon to joyous applause.
If you are entertaining it’s an easy peasy show stopper. Remove from the freezer talc the top of your Mont Blanc with powdered icing sugar snow….just to (snow) cap it off, don’t ch’ know. For best results do this whilst singing ‘let it snow, let it snow, let it snow’ even its currently sweltering in your corner of the globe.
Another serving suggestion is to place the seemingly affluent bourgeoise pud (but not forgetting to remove the acetate) into a vintage powder bowl as a gift to a dear friend.
Please note no robins were harmed during the making of this frozen dessert.