Mont Blanc (9, 4" tarts)
Mont blanc is generally a simple affair of pureed chestnuts and whipped cream, perhaps a meringue or cake inside to give it some substance. My version nestles the classic Mont Blanc into a chocolate tart shell with chocolate pastry cream and a dash of caramel in the Chantilly to ensure its irresistibility.
Admittedly, this is a little obnoxious to prepare. But it looks so stinkin’ tasty, right?
At any rate, all of the components will hold nicely in the fridge so you can whip them up in advance. Caramel on Monday. Tart dough on Tuesday. Pastry cream Wednesday. Glaze the chestnut garnish on Thursday. Assemble on Friday for your dinner party, be the talk of the town by Saturday.
Perhaps in an era of Semi-Homemade, I’m kidding myself to think that anyone will make this. But I’d like to think someone might. Here’s the recipe if you’re that someone. (Each link will take you to the individual recipes for the various component you’ll need.)
1/2 batch chocolate tart dough
10 ounces dark chocolate, melted
1/2 batch pastry cream
5 ounces of caramel
5 ounces heavy whipping cream
18 whole chestnuts, roasted and peeled
A batch of hard caramel, prepared at the last minute
A Note on Equipment You can make a rustic version of this dessert without any special equipment, but if you’d like yours somewhat like the ones in the photo, the following piping bags and tips will help:
2 piping bags fitted with large, plain tips
1 piping bag fitted with a multi-opening tip
If you haven’t wrangled a pastry bag into submission before (or if you have and found it frustrating), these 12 tips for using a pastry bag will make the process mess and stress free.
Preparing the tart shells
Make and bake the chocolate tarts according to the recipe. Once the tarts have cooled, remove them from their tart pans and brush the inside of each generously with some of the melted chocolate. Place the brushed tarts on a sheet pan and refrigerate until the chocolate hardens (if you use tempered chocolate, you won’t need to refrigerate).
Flavoring the pastry creams
Meanwhile, divide the pastry cream into two 12 ounce portions.
Put one of the 12 ounce portions in a bowl and beat it with a hand/stand mixer until creamy. Then mix in the remaining melted dark chocolate. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, etc, to be sure it is homogeneous. Transfer the chocolate pastry cream to one of the pastry bags fitted with a plain tip and refrigerate until needed.
To flavor the other batch, put the chestnut puree into a bowl and beat it with a hand/stand mixer until it’s smooth and creamy. It’s really important that there are no lumps in the chestnut cream which might clog the small piping tip, so take care to scrape down the bowl and continue beating until the chestnut puree is perfectly smooth. At that point, add in the remaining 12 oz of pastry cream and mix until homogeneous.
Put the chestnut cream into a piping bag fitted with a multi-opening tip. I used #89, but I totally wish I had #233, because that would really get the job done. If you don’t have any of those, you can use a small plain tip, but it will definitely take more time. Set the piping bag in the fridge until needed.
Making the caramel whipped cream
Combine the caramel and cream together in a mixing bowl and whisk until uniform in color and texture. Then turn the speed to medium high and whip until stiff peaks form. Transfer the caramel cream to the remaining pastry bag and refrigerate until needed.
Assembling the Mont Blanc
Pipe an equal amount of chocolate pastry cream into each tart shell. Piping in a spiral pattern from the inside out will distribute an even, smooth layer into each. If the layer of chocolate cream turns out uneven, smooth it down with an offset spatula.
Place one chestnut in the center of each tart.
Now pipe the caramel cream around each chestnut, swirling up and around, as if filling soft serve ice cream into a cone. This step gives the Mont Blanc some height. Smooth the ridges of the cream down with an offset spatula, taking care not to press down and collapse the little mountain you’ve created.
Pipe the chestnut cream over each tart. You’ll use about two ounces of chestnut cream per tart, which is a considerable amount. Don’t skimp! You don’t want the dessert to just look like a limp noodle has been flopped onto it, you want it to look lush with strands of chestnut cream.
I piped in a spiral fashion, wrapping around and around, then slowly winding my way up, until I’d covered the whole thing. You’ll find many Mont Blancs that have piping in a more left-to-right fashion (like the famous originals). I’ve done batches like that too, they both look quite nice.
Pipe out the chestnuts threads however you like, the point is to create more height. Have fun with it!
You can store the finished Mont Blancs in the refrigerator for about 48 hours, tops, or serve immediately. They’ll absorb off odors in your fridge faster than a box of baking soda, so if you do plan to let them hang out for a few days, be sure to take the time to store them properly, in an airtight container, or wrapped thoroughly in plastic.
Finishing the Mont Blanc
Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and set to the side.
Prepare the hard caramel and dip the chestnuts. (Click through for the recipe and detailed instructions.)
Top each Mont Blanc with a single caramel coated chestnut and serve immediately. Enjoy!
Jan 28, 2012 · 7:28 PM
I am doing an article on pens and I would love to put this in after the Mont Blanc section for a bit of gorgeous sweet fun. Please could you let me know if this would be ok.
Jan 29, 2012 · 12:18 AM
@cat, haha sure thing. Nice tie in! If you need more info, shoot me an email (address on the about page).
Apr 25, 2012 · 2:23 AM
So you had me at “ I’m kidding myself to think that anyone will make this. But I’d like to think someone might”. I’m always up for a challenge – even though living in Thailand makes cooking even more so.
I don’t know when or how, but this tart is going to be famous in Thailand too!
Apr 25, 2012 · 11:48 AM
@heidi, haha. I formally charge you with starting this trend in Thailand!!
Jan 14, 2013 · 12:07 AM
Hi Joan! Presuming you made your own almond paste (puree), I don’t know why you couldn’t… although chestnuts seem to have a higher moisture content, which makes for a smoother, easier to handle puree.
Mar 06, 2017 · 3:55 PM
Hi, I couldn’t find any chestnuts or chestnut paste at short notice for a dinner party, but I had a ton of hazelnuts, so I made hazelnut butter and caramelized hazelnuts. I made the bottom layer of pastry cream with Nutella, then brown sugar whipped cream with hazelnut butter pastry cream and caramelized hazelnuts in the middle and on top. It turned out really well and all the people at the dinner party were really happy with it. Thank you for posting this recipe. Also, I love your pastry cream recipe.
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Apr 17, 2017 · 5:02 PM
I guess I am one of the few to attempt this dessert but I was so intrigued I had to do it! The chestnut paste right out of the can reminded me of refried beans and tasted somewhat like that so, sweetening it helped. But, put everything together and it tasted good . The chestnut flavor became so much more alive when combined with the other ingredients. One issue: the chocolate was too much for the 12 oz. pastry cream and set up almost hard, like ganache. But, we loved the overall dessert ( our first time eaten, or FTE)and the additional nut in the center was great. Thank you Stella, once again