So, here it is: my last post of June’s Japanese dessert month.
Reminiscing about Japan through baking and blogging has been bittersweet.
Although it didn’t seem as rosy-coloured to my adult self as it did to me as a teen, I still gathered a lot of unique experiences and new perspectives.
Japan is a historically rich and culturally diverse nation, brimming with beautiful landscapes and architecture, and full of kind people.
And, of course — Japan is full of amazing food!
This last dessert, although French in origin, has truly been claimed by Japanese patisseries. I say this with confidence because, in Japan, I ate about 10 different versions of mont blanc, but hardly remember seeing any while in France!
You can make mont blanc with a spongecake base, a shortcrust base, as a mousse, in a parfait, with meringue, eat it warm or cold — it truly is an adaptable treat.
Mont Blanc • モンブラン
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1 teaspoon instant coffee powder
- 2 tablespoons 2% milk
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup cake flour
- 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
- 1 can (435ml/15oz) unsweetened pureed chestnut
- 1/4 cup whipping cream
- 1/4 cup 2% milk
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1 large egg yolk
- seed scrapings of 1 vanilla bean
- 3/4 cup whipping cream
- 1/3 cup sweet chestnut puree
- 3 tablespoons icing sugar
- 1 tablespoon brandy
- icing sugar or cocoa powder, for dusting
Preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C. Line a 9-inch square baking pan with parchment paper.
First, make the sponge cake base: sift the flour and cocoa powder together. Set aside.
Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs on a medium-high speed for 3 ~ 4 minutes, until pale, fluffy, and thick. Add the white sugar and beat for 1 minute more.
Dissolve the instant coffee powder in 2 tablespoons of milk. Turn the mixer down to a medium-low speed and add the canola oil, coffee-milk, and vanilla extract.
Beat until evenly distributed, then add the sifted cocoa-flour, two tablespoons at a time, and mix until completely combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 14 ~ 16 minutes.
Once cool, use a round cookie-cutter to divide the chocolate-coffee spongecake into 3 inch diameter pieces.
Next, make the sweet chestnut puree.
In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the whip cream, milk, white sugar, and vanilla bean seeds. Stir together until the sugar has mostly dissolved.
Lightly beat the egg yolk, then add to the saucepan and turn the heat up to medium.
Gently stir and cook until the sweet cream begins to thicken.
When small simmering bubbles appear, turn the heat off, cook and stir for two minutes more, then pour the sweet cream into a food processor.
Use the food processor to blend the sweet cream and canned pureed chestnuts together until very, very smooth.
Lastly, make the chestnut cream.
Using an electric mixer, whisk the whipping cream and brandy to soft peaks.
Add 1/3 of a cup of prepared sweet chestnut puree and icing sugar. Continue to whip until the puree is evenly distributed and the cream holds stiff peaks.
To assemble the mont blanc, gather your chocolate-coffee spongecake bases, sweet chestnut puree, and chestnut cream.
Use a large, round piping tip to make little mounds of chestnut cream on a spongecake base.
Next, use a very small, round piping tip to squeeze a long, continuous thread of chestnut puree over the chestnut cream mounds. Go over the mounds once, back and forth in one direction, then again, back and forth in the other direction.
Dust with icing sugar or cocoa powder, then garnish each mont blanc with a chestnut.
Store any uneaten mont blanc in the refrigerator.
If you ever visit Japan, make sure to bring an open mind and an empty stomach.
Make sure to try every interesting thing you come across — keep an eye out for coffee jelly and purin, any other sweet treats, and delicious savory stuff, like curry-pan, okonomiyaki, and fugu (Japanese blow-fish… if you’ve got the guts)!
As they say in Japan: itadakimasu!