Does This Look... Scary?

27 March 2005

I can’t believe this, but it must have been almost 20 years since I first had the famous Mont Blanc from Angelina patisserie – not in Paris, but when it opened in Tokyo. This dessert has been incredibly popular in Japan since then – maybe more so than Paris – but I’ve heard that Angelina has been sold recently.

I’m not really mad about chestnuts per se, but quite like puree when used in cakes like Mont Blanc – the sweet chestnut cream, unsweetened double cream inside and crunchy meringue at the bottom gives it a lovely texture.

I used to buy fresh chestnuts for this, but as you can imagine, it is quite hard work to go through the soak-peel process if you don’t have much time (and they turn your nails brown!). I’ve been using Sierra Rica cooked chestnuts instead and I think they taste almost as good as fresh ones (although you still need to puree them, which is hard work…).

I’ve been trying to recreate the Angelina recipe, but I’ve been unsuccessful getting the unsweetened cream bit right. Mine doesn’t quite taste like theirs (I use double cream). If anyone knows the secret, please let me have it…

I don’t think this dessert is very popular in the UK – I hardly see it anywhere. Matthew gets scared when I make this – apart from the fact that he doesn’t like the taste of it, he thought I was making some sort of Japanesey-noodley-sweets!
 

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  • Hi Keiko,
    hope you’re having Happy Easter holidays... This post came right on time, I was getting worried ’bout my regular dosis of your great food photography ;) The dessert looks very inviting - I’m currently concentrating on the sweeter aspects of cooking myself (ever tried Mozartkugeln?)...

    Posted by Nicky | 27 March 2005 #
  • This reminds me of Spagetti Eis, a dessert we would get in Germany when we were kids. Ice cream pressed through a ricer to look like noodles, with strawberry sauce and coconut shavings on top!

    Posted by McAuliflower | 28 March 2005 #
  • hi keiko, sure they don’t look scary! (you know I know) I don’t care for Angelina’s mont-blanc much as theirs’re too sweet to my taste, I bet yours would taste better. I like Sierra Rica’s sweetened chestnut paste, haven’t tried their vacuum-packed whole cooked chestnuts yet though (I bought one a while ago and left abandoned). I am sorry to hear you’ve got a cold, hope you’ll be better soon.

    Posted by chika | 28 March 2005 #
  • I LOVE chestnuts (especially chestnut cream), but I rarely cook with them because they’re so expensive! Pre-cooked nuts are about $7 a jar in New York! And to think, chestnuts used to be peasant food. Now they’re expensive because they’re exotic.

    Posted by Jessica "Su Good Ea | 28 March 2005 #
  • Keiko, these look fantastic! Who says they are scarry-looking? (although I guess they do kinda look like soba noodle). I’ve never had a mont-blanc before I came to Japan, but there’s something similar in Shanghai, which I’ve always loved. It must be a lot of work to get the chestnut to be that smooth. Your man should appreciate your effort.

    Posted by Lynn | 28 March 2005 #
  • They sound good, but they do remind me of the ghost from pac man, so I can see why Matthew gets a little scared :)

    Posted by | 28 March 2005 #
  • I love mont-blanc and most chestnut-based sweets, although I didn’t as a child. There’s a Parisian boulangerie/patisserie that has a bunch of outposts here in NYC -- Le Pain Quotidien -- and they sometimes make a montblanc tart which I adore. I think your pic is lovely, as usual. Not scary in the least.

    Posted by Julie | 28 March 2005 #
  • Hi Keiko, being the other (read: not necessarily better half :) of d:d, I’d just wanted to drop you a note and let you know that you are one of the reasons, my food sometimes gets cold. Why? Your sweet photography is inspiring and I never wholly satisfied with my own attempts. Great stuff.

    PS: Hope I’m not asking the obvious, what or where is Nordljus? It certainly has a scandinavian touch to it...

    Posted by Oliver | 28 March 2005 #
  • Not at all scary Keiko - but a little hairy, tee-hee! Pretty picture, as always!

    Posted by Zarah Maria | 28 March 2005 #
  • hello keiko-san

    i have, perhaps, solved a mystery for you. according to this article, the mont blanc from angelina is a james beard recipe (and it is included in the article). hope it’s what you are looking for!

    Posted by santos | 28 March 2005 #
  • Oooh, so that’s what they’re called. I saw these in Japanese department stores (Sogo, Daimaru, Matsusakaya, etc.) in Causeway Bay in HK when we were living there. I’ve often wondered what they were (names were either in Japanese or Chinese chars.) and how they taste. Hmmm....

    Posted by celiaK | 30 March 2005 #
  • Hi Nicky - thank you for your kind note, I’m glad you didn’t get scared at this :) I know you are concentrating on sweet things recently, which is a good thing ;) I think I’ve had Mozartkugeln when I went to Germany or Austria (Matthew loves marzipan), your hand made chocolate looks divine!

    Hi Jocelyn - Spagetti Eis! I’d like to try it, do you think you can still get it somewhere? (Maybe I should ask Nicky as she lives in Munich...)

    Hi Chika - thank you, I agree that Angelina’s chestnut cream is really sweet, but I like it with the unsweetened cream...

    Hi Jessica - thank you for visiting, $7 a jar sounds expensive, but that’s living in New York for you I guess! Actually prices here are not much different. I lick the plate so that I won’t waste any!

    Hi Lynn - thank you, yes I thought it looked like soba noodles too... I didn’t know you could get them in Shanghai, do Chinese people like it as well?

    Hi Anonymous - it *does* look like the ghost from pac man! Matthew bought a retro game for his friend a while ago and it had Ms Pac Man in it. We played it for hours, that was good fun!

    Hi Julie - I didn’t like chestnut-based sweets either when I was small. Thank you for your info on the patisserie, it sounds delicious! I must try next time I go to NYC.

    Hi Oliver - thank you for your kind words and I’m sorry if I make your dinner cold... Speaking of cold food, I’m extremely slow at eating and my dinner gets cold every time anyway... People think that I digest food as I eat (!), I think chewing properly is a good thing, but maybe I could use that time for something else. I really like your site and I’d like to take pictures like yours - clean and beautiful.

    Nordljus means northern lights in Swedish, I don’t speak any Swedish at all (!) but I love Scandinavia and liked the sound of it (maybe because I’m from north of Japan too).

    Hi Zarah - yes, it’s a bit hairy like the ghost from pac man, isn’t it...

    Hi Santos - thank you for finding the article, that’s really interesting. I think my recipe is quite similar to this, but I just don’t know why they call it ’sweet cream’ even the cream is not sweet! (or is there such a thing called sweet cream?)

    Hi Celia - hmm, so now you’ve figured out what this is... Would you like to try mine sometime? I didn’t know there were so many Japanese department stores in HK, though.

    Posted by keiko | 1 April 2005 #
  • I’ve seen this one in another blog that detailed the entire process! I must say that your presentation is unique, but if I could only just get over that ’noodle look’... I’ve stashed away a recipe for Mont Blanc (or Monte Bianco over here) in my files but just never had any good reason to try it. Perhaps now I do, as you have given me some inspiration!!

    Posted by rowena | 1 April 2005 #
  • Keiko, I think only in Shangai will you find them. It’s usually ten times the size, like a dome cake. The cake would be filled with chestnut paste, and will also have the soba-noodle-like design on top. It’s a very popular dessert in Shanghai as well.

    Posted by Lynn | 1 April 2005 #
  • Keiko, this looks like "vermicelli" (literally "little worms"), a favourite nord-italian and swiss desert. Search for recipes under this title. And yes, I don’t know about england but here in germany there is a difference between sweet cream and sour cream. Sweet is used for deserts, baking etc and sour is for cooking in general, when you want to make a cream sauce or so.

    Posted by Hande | 1 April 2005 #
  • Hi Rowena - I hope I didn’t put you off too much! Although I made it this unusual way this time, I normally decorate without using the special piping nozzle (?) for this dessert. Just meringue, scoop of cream and chestnut cream on top. I think that looks prettier and I’m sure it’s more like the real Monte Bianco... It’s delicious and easy to make, you can buy meringue and chestnut cream if you don’t want to bother, so I want you to try sometime.

    Hi Lynn - I’ve never been to Shanghai, but it must be a big trendy city by now. I’ve seen the giant dome shape one, I don’t mind it but maybe it scares some people off...

    Hi Hande - thank you for your information, I didn’t know vermicelli meant little worms! I guess sweet cream is single/double cream here in the UK. I was guessing that the percentage of the fat in the cream might make the taste different, I must experiment more...

    Posted by keiko | 2 April 2005 #
  • Hi keiko,
    Sure they don’t look scary. They look fabulous and so tempting! I bet it is a lot of work to make this dessert, and I’ve never thought about making one myself. (If I’d given it a try, it’d probably look like “mukku,” a character in Japanese TV probram for kids called “ponkikkies.”) You did a grea job...as always :)

    Posted by obachan | 4 April 2005 #
  • Hi Obachan - thanks, and I must agree that this looks like Mukku! I miss Ponkikkies, is it still on? I think that’s a great programme for kids and adults too!

    Posted by keiko | 6 April 2005 #
  • Hi I tried using sweetened chestnut puree from HERO(made in Switzerland)to make a chestnut cream roll and it tasted quite good for me. The puree itself is really delicious as it is not too sweet and contains bits of chestnut for texture.The recipe I used is from Francois Payard (Simply Sensational Desserts) and there is this chestnut log that looks so good but calls for cassis and chestnut cream from Pierre Herme (Desserts by Pierre Herme) that I want to make someday.You can try using mascarpone cheese for the unsweetened cream.

    Posted by cathy | 25 May 2005 #
  • Hi Cathy - a chestnut cream roll! Yum!! I don’t think I’ve had the puree before but it must be really good. Cassis and chestnut cream sounds delicious too, I’ve got that book so should have a look... Although I don’t have the Francois Payard book, it sounds really interesting too. Thanks for all the info and please keep letting me know, you must be a great chef/patissier!

    Posted by keiko | 5 June 2005 #
  • helo.....iuse a devon cream, or clotted cream, and i also sprinkle a little brandy on the chestnut puree.....trudy kaplan

    Posted by tkaplan1@msn.com | 29 December 2005 #
  • Hi Trudy - thanks so much for your suggestion, I’ll try it next time! I love to add *quite a lot of* brandy/rum into the puree too ;)

    Posted by keiko | 5 January 2006 #
  • Hi Keiko,

    I’m a first time vistor… I LOVE chestnut. It’s valentine’s today and I want to cook something for my newly wedded husband – mont blanc would be perfect, but would you be able to email me the recipe? Please?

    Posted by Vivian | 14 February 2007 #
  • We enjoyed this dessert for the first time in Rome..and were fortunate enough to walk it off while enjoying the city. Would you be kind enough to share your recipe?

    Thank you in advance

    Posted by Liz Tong | 2 March 2007 #
  • hi Keiko, was looking for the perfect recipe myself found one in December issue of ELLE DECOR (p.90).The recipe is by Daniel Boulud famous French chef. Mont Blanc is my favorite dessert
    and even though i never made it, i always wanted to. i had it for the first time in Angelina’s in Paris I also had in Rome. I think it is the best thing I had ever tasted. By the way,I last was in Paris in May of 2007 and Angelina was still there and I had a few of Mont Blanc’s there I hope you can get ELLE Decor # 142 December 2007.

    Posted by jane | 27 November 2007 #
  • Hi Keiko,
    This is my first time to look at your website and it’s BEAUTIFUL! I live in Japan and came across Mont Blanc there. I love it and so does my boyfriend’s dad. We are visiting them in Yokohama soon and I thought it would be nice if I made some homemade Mont Blanc. I’ve seen some other recipes, but yours are by far the most beautiful. Just like the few people before me, I was wondering if you would be able to share your recipe.
    Thanks!!!

    Posted by Anna | 27 December 2007 #
  • Hi there, sincere apologies for taking so long to get back to you, thank you for all your kind notes.

    Vivian, Liz, Anna – as much as I’d like to share a recipe, I haven’t yet come across the perfect one yet… as I wrote in the post, I can’t seem to get the unsweet cream bit right. I’ll share it when I finally find one!

    Jane – thank you for letting me know, I just found the recipe on the Elle Decor site. It seems different from the Angelina recipe, but it looks beautiful and I think I must give it a try!

    Posted by keiko | 21 January 2008 #
  • Hi Keiko,
    I love chestnut puree. I tried a similar cake from a Japanese bakery before. It also called MontBlanc. I made a chestnut mousse log when I attended a class at Le Cordon Bleu 3 years ago.

    Posted by SweetBaker | 7 August 2008 #
  • I have 3 chesnuts trees in my back yard. This year the crop is gigantic. I have never used them in recipes or anything else. I will try some of your recipes. Where can I find them

    Posted by Rainey Dollar | 26 September 2008 #
  • Hi Sweetbaker – your chestnut mousse log sounds wonderful, I think I have to give it a try too!

    Hi Rainey – how lovely you have chestnut trees in your garden! Mont Blanc is very simple to make – you can make chestnut puree by cooking peeled chestnuts in milk and sugar. Make or buy some meringue, put the puree on top, then finish with some double cream (or creme fraiche, mascarpone etc).

    Posted by keiko | 28 October 2008 #
  • Hi Keiko,

    Your Mont Blanc is beautiful, it inspired me to attempt the feat myself for this Thanksgiving, something my grandmother and mother before me did as an annual tradition.

    I am thinking I’ll shortcut the recipe a bit by using a can of Creme de Marrons my uncle sent me.

    Posted by Vy | 25 November 2008 #
  • Oh, the Mont Blanc Dessert looks mouthwatering! When I lived in Japan I ate that quiet often.

    Posted by Caroline | 1 June 2009 #
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