Acclaimed blogger and urban farmer Charles Thompson introduced me to Gail Monaghan’s Lost Desserts, a treasure trove of over-the-top sweet extravaganzas which was to be my initial inspiration for this Spectacularly Delicious recipe for the dazzling Mont Blanc.
But it was Tilda Swinton’s star turn in I Am Love that spurred me into action. In the film Ms. Tilton’s seemingly proper Milanese MILF hides a scandalous secret. Formal family meals and fanciful foods also play pivotal roles. An impeccable Mont Blanc is the crowning glory of an otherwise deeply unpleasant birthday celebration rife with sibbling squabbles and bitter resentments over the disbursement of the family’s vast fortune.
Oh the subtle symbolism, the dark irony. Mont Blanc — patrician artifice composed of the most common and humble of peasant ingredients. And it all comes tumbling down when you disturb the foundations.
You can catch a quick glimpse of gramps blowing out his birthday candle on the Mont Blanc in this trailer for I Am Love.
In its purest Escoffier recipe the chestnuts for Mont Blanc rely solely on their distinctive flavor. But subtlety isn’t a SpecD hallmark, so this take on the classic includes a nice bit of butter and a shot of Apple Jack for good measure. Adding butter to anything never requires explanation; the Apple Jack is my fanciful riff on the Alpine legend of William Tell and his skillful cross-bow splitting the apple atop his son’s head.
A good strong ricer is essential for creating the elegant strands. My German-made stainless steel Kartoffelpresse is top of the line with the unique feature of extrusion holes on all sides. This MIU Ricer from France is a good investment; avoid less expensive models which will only disappoint.
The chestnut strands become longer and more pliant with each pressing through the ricer. Sweetened whipped cream creates the mountain shape. The resulting confection is served as a plate of fluffy cream laced with the soigné flavor of chestnuts.
When all said and done, Mont Blanc isn’t as difficult as one might think.
And yet, a quick scan of Google images shows that not everyone has the talent to create a Gail Monaghan / Tilda Swinton worthy dessert.
Here Tilda seems alarmed at some of these unusual variations — I just find them amusing, especially the kind fo tacky Mont Blanc ring. That piece of jewelry is definitely not from the I Am Love costume department.