Apparently created at the time of the Duchy of Savoy, Mont Blanc (the dessert) is a little cone of chestnut cream vermicelli and crème Chantilly over a base of meringue, inspired by the shape and colour of Mont Blanc (the Alpine mountain). As if the idea of a snow-capped peak were not wintery enough, I though that the earthy chestnut and fluffy meringue flavours of the Mont Blanc would make a lovely Christmas log. Enter the sugar-capped Mont Blanc meringue roulade with chestnut and whipped cream filling. Is there anything more Christmassy than that?
Although Christmas is all about indulgence, you do not want to use too much sugar in this recipe. The sugar in the meringue and the one used to make chestnut spread will be enough as sweeteners, so you won’t need to add more sugar to the chestnut filling or the whipped cream.
Chestnut puree and whole roasted and peeled chestnuts are generally available in supermarkets and health shops in the UK around Christmas, as they are used for stuffing and soups. If you cannot find chestnut puree you can make it by blending roasted and peeled chestnut, adding a little water if necessary. Chestnut spread (crème de marrons), made with sugar and vanilla, may be more difficult to find in small supermarkets, but it is easily available online. The original Mont Blanc recipe calls for some rum to give a deeper note to the chestnuts. If you don’t have it, you can use some whiskey cream or just skip the alcohol.
If you have never made meringue before, have a look at my post on French meringue for some basic tips. Compared to a classic dry meringue, a meringue roulade needs more sugar for elasticity and it is baked at a higher temperature. The rolling needs a firm hand: here’s how Baking Queen Mary Berry does it.
PS: The lovely golden birds on the photos are by Danish designer Jette Frölich.
Ingredients (for 10 slices)
For the roulade
- 5 egg whites
- 275g caster sugar
- ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
For the chestnut filling
- 400g unsweetened chestnut puree
- 400g chestnut spread (crème de marrons)
- 150g whole roasted and peeled chestnuts
- 2 tablespoons rum (optional)
300ml fresh double cream
Icing sugar, for dusting
How to make it
1. Pre-heat the oven 200°C/180°Fan/Gas 6. Line a large swiss roll tin (about 37×27 cm) with greased non-stick baking paper (note: this last step is not necessary if you are using a silicon tray).
2. In a squeaky clean, large bowl, start whisking 5 egg whites with an electric mixer on full speed. When they get foamy, add ½ teaspoon cream of tartar. Keep whisking and gradually add 275g caster sugar, one spoonful at a time: one third at the soft peaks stage; another third at the firm peaks stage; and the last third at the stiff peaks stage. Whisk until very, very stiff and glossy.
3. Spread the meringue mixture into the prepared tin in a uniform layer. Place the tin in the pre-heated oven and bake for about 8 minutes until very golden. Then lower the temperature to 160°/140°Fan/Gas 3 and bake for a further 15 minutes until crisp and firm to the touch.
4. Remove the meringue from the oven and turn it upside down on to a clean towel or a sheet of non-stick baking paper. Remove the paper from the base of the cooked meringue and allow to cool completely.
5. While the meringue cools down, prepare the chestnut filling by mixing 400g chestnut puree, 400g chestnut spread, 150g whole roasted and peeled chestnuts, roughly chopped, and 2 tablespoons of rum (optional).
6. Whip 300ml fresh double cream.
7. Spread evenly the chestnut filling and then the whipped cream over the meringue.
8. To form a roulade, roll up the meringue firmly from the long end, using the towel or baking paper to help you. Make sure to keep the roll very tight.
9. Wrap in non-stick baking paper or foil and chill before serving. Serve dusted with icing sugar.