Le Mont Blanc

Country Life Every Week - - Simon’s Kitchen -

Serves 4

Quite sim­ply the ne plus ul­tra in the world of French meringue con­fec­tions. I use a pota­toricer, which can be pur­chased from good kitchen shops, to achieve the worm-like look for the clas­sic Mont Blanc.

In­gre­di­ents

For the meringue 4 egg whites 225g caster sugar A lit­tle soft­ened but­ter 1tb­spn plain flour

For the ch­est­nut purée

275g cooked chest­nuts, puréed

un­til per­fectly smooth 250g tin of sweet­ened ch­est­nut

paste (crème de mar­rons) 1tb­spn ic­ing sugar 1tspn vanilla ex­tract

For the whipped cream

300ml well-chilled dou­ble cream 1tb­spn caster sugar Method Pre­heat the oven to 140˚C/275˚F/ gas mark 1. Us­ing a scrupu­lously clean mix­ing bowl, whip the egg whites with a pinch of salt un­til soft, but able to hold a peak. Beat in half the sugar, a ta­ble­spoon at a time, un­til glossy and stiff. Now, fold in the rest of the sugar, us­ing a large spat­ula with au­thor­i­ta­tive scoops—the air must be con­tained, but the sugar does need to be thor­oughly mixed in.

Lightly grease a flat bak­ing tray with the but­ter and sift a spoon­ful of flour over it. Shake it around a bit to dis­perse the flour in an even coat­ing and then tap off the ex­cess (the kitchen sink is the most con­tained area and af­fords the least mess). I have al­ways found this coat­ing to be the most ef­fec­tive non-stick method, but feel free to use the more modern parch­ment pa­per if you wish.

Spoon out the meringue mix­ture into nest shapes and bake in the oven for about 11∕4–11∕2 hours—the point at which the meringue reaches the palest cof­fee hue is how I like it.

Leave to cool for a few min­utes be­fore re­mov­ing them from the bak­ing tray, then place on a wire rack to cool.

Fully process to­gether all the in­gre­di­ents for the ch­est­nut purée un­til smooth, then set aside. Whip the cream and sugar un­til thick. To as­sem­ble, place each meringue nest on a plate, fill it with whipped cream to a gen­er­ous, dome-like height and squid­dle—a fair de­scrip­tion, here, I think— just the cor­rect amount of ch­est­nut purée through the metal potato-ricer over each serv­ing, mask­ing the cream but not the meringue nest.

Chill for at least 30 min­utes be­fore serv­ing.

A dish fit for roy­alty: this queen of pud­dings has a lus­cious rasperry-com­pote seam lay­ered above but­tery brioche crumbs

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