With Spring finally here, we decided it was time to celebrate as though it was Christmas all over again, and by this we mean making our favorite dessert of the season (or every season for that matter). Thanks to Jillian Greer who allowed us to share this deliciously decadent recipe here.
A Mont Blanc (or Mont-Blanc aux marrons) is a dessert of puréed, sweetened chestnuts topped with whipped cream. The name comes from Mont Blanc mountain, and it literally means “White Mountain”, Mont Blanc is the highest mountain in the Alps and the highest peak in Europe outside of the Caucasus range. It rises 15,781 ft. above sea level.
That is a lot of whipped cream.
This decadent dessert was first described in an Italian cook book from 1475, and was often served in the home of Cesare and Lucrezia Borgia, in case you want to get your royal on.
For the tart shells…
3.75 ounces of sugar
1.25 ounces of brown sugar
pure vanilla bean seeds
1/2 tsp. of instant coffee
1/4 tsp. sea salt
4.5 ounces of unsalted butter, softened
2 egg yolks
9 ounces of flour, sifted
1.75 ounces of cocoa, sifted
10 ounces of dark chocolate, melted
For the cream…
32 ounces of milk
1 Tbsp. of pure vanilla
5 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
10 ounces of sugar
3 ounces of cornstarch
1/4 tsp. of sea salt
6 ounces of chestnut puree
For the caramel whipped cream…
5 ounces of caramel
5 ounces of heavy whipping cream
For the hard caramel…
12 ounces of cream
1 Tbsp. of pure vanilla
1 1/2 ounces of butter
7 ounces of sugar
1/4 tsp. of sea salt
For the assembly…
18 whole chestnuts, roasted and peeled
Combine 2 ounces sifted cocoa plus 2 ounces sifted powdered sugar. Set aside.
In a bowl, sift together the flour and the cocoa for the tart shells.
In another bowl, combine the sugar, brown sugar, pure vanilla bean seeds, instant coffee, salt, and butter using an electric mixer on medium speed. Mix only until the ingredients are thoroughly incorporated. The mixture should be well combined but not fluffy. One at a time, add the egg yolks, then reduce the speed to low. Add the flour/cocoa mixture and mix until combined.
Form the dough into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate to make handling easier.
Preheat the over to 350 degrees and grease a set of 4 inch tart shells very lightly with cooking spray.
Remove the dough from the fridge and let it come to room temperature before rolling out. Use the reserved cocoa/powdered sugar mixture to dust the counter. Roll out the dough to 1/4’’ thickness and using a knife, cut out squares slightly larger than the tart shells.
Using your thumbs, press the dough squares into the tart shells. Trim off any excess dough. Once all the tart shells have been filled, prick them all over using a fork. Don’t forget the sides!
Bake tart shells for 15-18 minutes or until they become firm. After the first 7 minutes or so, use a fork to gently deflate any air bubble which might have formed on the tart shells. The tart shells are finished when the feel dry to the touch.
Once cool, remove the tarts them from their tart pans and brush the insides with some of the melted dark chocolate. Arrange the tarts on a baking sheet and chill until the dark chocolate hardens.
Meanwhile, for the cream, bring the milk and pure vanilla to a boil in a large saucepan. Once the mixture reaches a boil remove from the heat and let stand for at least one hour.
In a medium bowl, combine the eggs, yolks, sugar, cornstarch, salt, and pure vanilla. Whisk until the mixture is smooth and there are no lumps.
Bring the milk in the large saucepan back to a simmer. Then whisk a tiny bit of the hot milk into the egg mixture. Little by little, temper in more hot milk in order to warm the eggs. Once the egg mixture is tempered, whisk it into the hot milk on the stove. Continue whisking over medium heat. The mixture should become quite thick. Once the mixture starts to bubble, continue whisking for 1 minute.
Remove the mixture from the heat and pour the into a container. Be sure to press plastic wrap against the surface, then chill in the fridge until cold.
Once the pastry cream is cooled completely, divide it evenly into two bowls. In one of the bowls, beat the pastry cream for two or three minutes or until creamy. Once smooth, gradually add the remaining melted dark chocolate. Continue beating until the ingredients are combined. Transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip and keep in the refrigerator until needed.
In another bowl, beat the chestnut puree until creamy. There should be no lumps. Once the puree is completely smooth, add in the remaining pastry cream. Be sure to beat the pastry cream for a few minutes to restore its creaminess before adding it to the chestnut mixture. Once combined, transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a small plain tip. Keep in the refrigerator until needed.
In another bowl, whisk together the caramel and the heavy whipping cream until well blended. Then beat on medium high speed until stiff peaks form. Transfer to a pastry bag and refrigerate until needed.
Remove the tart shells from the refrigerator and fill each tart shell with an equal amount of the chocolate cream, piping in a spiral pattern from the inside outward. The layer of chocolate cream should be smooth and even. Place one of the roasted chestnuts in the center of each tart and pipe the caramel cream around it. Using a spatula, gently smooth the ridges of the cream, being careful not to press too hard.
Next pipe the chestnut cream over each individual tart, wrapping the cream around and around. Be sure to add height and volume, until the entire thing is covered. When finished they should look tall and lush.
Bring the cream and the pure vanilla to a boil for the hard caramel. Set aside.
In a large pot, caramelize the sugar over medium heat. Continue sprinkling in more sugar as it melts. Do not stir. Instead, swirl the pan to mix. If one spot begins to caramelize too fast sprinkle it with a little sugar. Once all the sugar had been added, cook it until it liquefies and reaches a medium brown color.
Immediately pour in a quarter of the cream and stir the mixture. It should foam up quite a bit but not overflow. If the sugar clumps, it is okay. Pour in more of the cream once the foam reduces. Keep repeating until all the cream has been incorporated. Continue to simmer, stirring, until all the clumped up sugar dissolves. Stir in the salt, pure vanilla, and butter.
Before serving, dip the roasted chestnuts into the hard caramel and place them on top of the Mont Blanc tartlets.
Dust with powdered sugar before serving.
Did I mention that these are pure Heaven on earth?
To. Die. For.
Cooking since the age of four, Jillian feels most comfortable at home in her kitchen. She has been collecting recipes as long as she can remember and has traveled abroad to attend cooking workshops in Rome, Paris, Prague and London. While she loves trying dishes from every culture, she is still a meat and potatoes gal at heart and she loves cooking for her husband and two sons best.
Jillian lives in Montana and her favorite activity is collecting little bottles of flavoured liquor and misting all of her sweet treats with them. To get the latest copy of her new cookbook, visit Amazon.