Monte Bianco


This spectacular looking dessert is made with fresh peeled chestnuts that have been cooked in milk, pureed and flavored with rum and chocolate. Its presentation resembles the snow capped peak of a mountain – Monte Bianco – the highest peak in Europe. This recipe was adapted from Marcella Hazan’s, The Classic Italian Cookbook and is my favorite chestnut recipe.

Serves 6 people

1 lb. fresh chestnuts
4 oz. (1/2 C.) semisweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces
sugar to taste
1/4 C. rum
heavy cream
sugar to sweeten cream

Wash the chestnuts in cold water, cut and boil as described above. Drain and peel the chestnuts and place them in a saucepan with just enough milk to cover, and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then simmer uncovered for about 25 minutes until the chestnuts are tender but not mushy.

Melt the chocolate in a 250°F oven or in the microwave over low heat.

Puree the chestnuts in a food mill or a food processor; add them to a mixing bowl. Mix in the melted chocolate and the rum until a soft paste has been formed. Put this mixture into a food mill or a ricer. Hold it over a serving platter and start dropping it close to the dish in a mountain mound, do not pat or attempt to shape it.

Whip the cream with sugar to sweeten to your taste. Using half of the whipped cream, attempt to cover only the top of the puree with it falling slightly down the sides at random to simulate falling snow. Bring the remaining whipped cram to the table, for anybody who might want a bit more “snow” on his portion.

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