March 30, 2018
Late last year a friend of mine gave me a small can of sweetened chestnut spread, after they'd been travelling in France. I had little idea what to do with it, but I had a hunch that Ottolenghi would have a suitable recipe or two. Sure enough, chestnut spread turns up in the index of Sweet as an ingredient in two desserts.
The Mont Blanc tart is reinterpretation of an Italian dessert where chestnuts are sweetened and whipped into cream. Goh and Ottolenghi's version starts with a sweet shortcrust; it's lined with a thin layer of dark chocolate and then filled with the chestnut spread. The name then comes in with a tower of whipped cream, which is sprinkled with candied pecans.
The presentation of my version didn't fulfill that vision, though it was pretty enough. Instead of baking individual tart shells I formed a single large pie. The double cream I bought became thicker and denser with whipping, lacking the airy texture needed to form a white mountain.
On its own, the chestnut spread had the nuttiness and velvety texture of hummus, though it was a lot sweeter. In the dessert, it acted as an unassuming caramel filling - the cream was richer, the chocolate had more depth, the pecans were sweeter. Together they formed a fancy and tasty dessert, even if the chestnut centre was overshadowed. For me it was a successful one-off project that I was proud to share around Ottolenghi club - I don't foresee any more little cans of chestnut spread coming my way, and this project hasn't inspired me to order them online.
Mont Blanc tart
(slightly adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi & Helen Goh's Sweet)
- 200g plain flour
- 120g cold butter
- 30g caster sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon white wine vinegar
- 3 tablespoons ice water
- 1 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon glucose syrup
- 1 tablespoon caster sugar
- 120g pecan halves
- 60g dark chocolate
- 250g can sweetened chestnut spread
- 300mL double cream
- 1 tablespoon icing sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla rum