Monday, December 19, 2011

Mont Blanc Meringue Nests


Chestnuts seem to be traditional in the UK more than in Australia around Christmas. The smells of hot chestnut sellers in the street are a common scent on the main street of Edinburgh, and for a break whilst Christmas shopping it's a treat to warm your hands on a bag of the smoky, soft nuts.

© Catherine Kennedy -
Beneath the Water
In Australia, "chestnuts roasting on an open fire" is just a line of a Nat King Cole carol, somewhat inappropriate for a scorching summer day, so the Aussies need a different way to enjoy chestnuts in December.

For this Sweet Adventure Blog Hop I thought I'd suggest a way....

...Mont Blanc Meringue Nests.

Supposedly named as the dish resembles the highest European mountain, Mont Blanc when referring to dessert, includes a chestnut purée and is usually topped with whipped cream (I substituted pouring cream in my dish).

The taste of the chestnut cream is very distinctive so when I ran my finger through the cream left on the food processor blades (yes, I still lick the bowl!), childhood memories were reignited of dinner parties round my parents table. The flavour is hard to explain, but a fabulous combination the nutty flavour with a hint of sweetness and a dash of sherry and it balances the sweetness of the meringue perfectly. The meringue nests are a perfect end to a December festive meal, generous and elegant but light at the same time.

Mont Blanc Meringue Nests (adapted from the recipe in an old favourite: Reader's Digest, the Cookery Year)

Serves 12

Meringue nests
6 egg whites
330g caster sugar
2 pinches cream of tartar (anyone wondering what this is and why you use it, here is a great post I found from A Pie for a Pie)

Chestnut cream
150g butter
100g caster sugar
425ml can of chestnut purée
35ml dry sherry

To serve
Pouring cream
Raspberries

Meringue nests

  • Preheat the oven to 100°
  • Spray oil and line 2 large baking trays with baking paper. Spray the top of the paper lightly too!
  • Beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. 
  • Gradually add the sugar and cream of tartar. 
  • Beat well till all the sugar has been completely combined and the mixture is smooth and silky and holds it's shape.
  • Take a large spoonful of mixture and use the back of the spoon to shape into a round base on the baking tray. You need to fit 6 rounds (about 10cm diameter)
  • Repeat for all 12. You should still have plenty mixture left.
  • Fill a piping bag with the remainder (using the large star nozzle).
  • Pipe a ring of rosettes around the circumference of the meringue circles making a nest.
  • Place trays in the oven and bake for 2 hours. Then turn off the oven and leave the meringues in there till the oven is cool, preferably over night.
  • When I made mine, I sneakily (and v. carefully) moved them all after 2 hours so I knew they hadn't stuck to the baking paper before I left them overnight.
  • Store in an air tight container until you serve them, or they might get soggy!


Chestnut cream

  • Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. 
  • Gradually add a spoonful of chestnut puree and beat in well. Be careful not to add too much at once as the mixture might curdle.
  • Keep beating until all the chestnut puree is combined.
  • Next, add the sherry gradually, one teaspoon at a time, continuing to beat well to incorporate each spoonful. (The process of adding the puree and sherry is much easier in a food processor as I leave the motor running and drop the spoonfuls down the shoot!)
  • You can either leave the cream aside or assemble the meringue nests straight away. Just don't assemble the meringue nests until you are ready to serve.


Assembly

  • Spoon the chestnut cream into the meringue nest centre.
  • Decorate the plate with raspberries and a drizzle of cream.
  • Serve with the pouring cream on the side for those who want more!

15 comments:

JJ @ 84thand3rd said...

Thanks for joining us Michelle! Didn't get enough meringue last month with the pav? - heehee. I love how the holidays always bring out childhood flavours, you are right, chestnuts are not quite an Aussie staple!

Anh said...

beautiful dessert! I love this new flavour!

Jennifer (Delicieux) said...

Hehe I was thinking the same as JJ, that you must not have had enough meringue last month. Seriously though, your mont blanc is beautiful, and while chestnuts are not quite an Australian staple, they are beautiful and delicious. Can I have some please? :D

Michelle Elliott said...

Heee hee I know, JJ and Jennifer - but you can never have enough meringue/pavlova, and I always seem to have egg whites hanging around too!

Claire @ Claire K Creations said...

This is the first year I've actually seen chestnuts for sale in Australia. Thanks for giving me a way to use them. You're right... no such thing as too much meringue!

Christina @ The Hungry Australian said...

Great dessert, Michelle.

I've always been curious about Mont Blanc but never tried making them at home before. I can totally see these served up as a lovely Christmas Day dessert.

Thanks for joining this blog hop!

foodandtools.com said...

Love meringue and the chestnut puree sounds wonderful, on the 26th I plan to do a pavlova so maybe I will fill it with chestnut puree instead of cream. Happy Christmas. :)

Tenille @ My Family Table said...

I'm quite intrigued by this recipe, it looks wonderful. I'll have to keep my eyes out for chestnut puree.

Lizzy (Good Things) said...

Delicious... I am definitely wanting to try to make this. Thank you for sharing!

Julie said...

Great idea ;) looks wonderful. Didn't know you can buy chestnut puree!

tania@mykitchenstories.com.au said...

Your mont Blanc sounds delicious. Sham we dont really utilize chestnuts here in Australia. Still , you have and good job!

Michelle Elliott said...

I got the Chestnut Puree from Chef and Cook in Camperdown (Sydney). I guess David Jones and Essential Ingredients and other food shops like that would have it too

Kitty said...

Just thought I'd pop by :) I've never had chestnuts with sweet things before, but the lovely pictures have made me really want to try the recipe!

Sophie said...

Wow, these look absolutely delicious. I would never have known to do this with chestnuts. Thanks for the recipe!

Nic@diningwithastud said...

What a geat fusion :) I love it! Thanks so much for joining the hop :D Mery Christmas and have a happy new year

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