Well, you know me, I'm not one for long blog posts introductions. I know why you're here, so let's dig right into it!
Once again I asked people to vote on Instagram for this new Cake Challenge between three Pâtisserie/Confectionery Classics. The idea behind the Cake Challenge is to revisit a Classic and to make it a layered cake.
Here were this Challenge contestants:
- Raffaello (the lip-smacking delicious Coconut and White chocolate version of the Ferrero Rocher!)
- Banoffee Pie
The title of this Blog Post probably gave away who won ;) ! Mont-Blanc was indeed the most popular vote (followed very closely by Banoffee Pie, so I guess I've got my next challenged lined up already!)!
Mont-Blanc you say?
For those who never heard of it, the Mont-Blanc is a traditional wintery dessert made of a base of baked Meringue, filled with Chantilly Cream and topped with piped Chestnut Cream. It has been named like this after the famous Alps Mountain, as the shape of the dessert is clearly inspired by a mountain top! And what a climb...
This dessert is a Chefs favourite and there are countless interpretations of this Pâtisserie Classic out there: shaped as a tart, eclairs, platted dessert in restaurants, etc. Due to its high content of sugar, it is more often than not paired with tangy fruits like tangerines or blueberries to balance the sweetness of the dessert, and you will see that in this challenge, it is no exception.
My version of the Mont-Blanc Cake
I wanted to incorporate the French meringues, but also keep the sponge that we of course find in Cakes. I then decided to bake four layers of French Meringue, and three layers of a delicious Hazelnuts Dacquoise baked with fresh blueberries as Blueberries/Hazelnuts & Chestnuts is a match made in Heaven!
Like very often in Pâtisserie, the sponges (that we French call "Biscuits") are more often than not baked thinly spread into a tray (here is another example of a Sponge baked in a tray, as you'll see, the possibilities are endless), or piped into shapes - usually discs. In this case I piped both Hazelnuts Dacquoise and French Meringue into 4" discs. This is what this recipe is based on.
To fill the cake, I first had to make my own Chestnut Cream (which you can buy already made - the most famous brand for it would be Clément Faugier!), and use that as a base for my Chestnuts Buttercream.
And lastly, in addition to the fruits baked in the Dacquoise, I made a Blueberries confit with very little sugar to bring a sour and tangy taste that balances the sweetness of the sponge and meringue as I was mentioning earlier!
I do hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I loved creating it! And as usual, if you try it at home, then pleaaaaase tag me on socials @zazamarcelle (you know that Instagram is where I hang out the most!) and I will be so happy to reshare it with everyone like a proud mama !!!
... And now, the recipe!
This recipe will make a 4" Cake.
65g Egg Whites
33g Caster Sugar
40g Ground Hazelnuts
22g Icing Sugar
15g Plain Flour
Handful of fresh or frozen blueberries
French Meringue (ideally bake the day before)
70g Egg Whites (room temperature)
140g Caster Sugar
10g Caster Sugar
1,5g Pectin + 5g Caster Sugar
Chestnut Cream (ideally make the day before)
200g Chestnut Puree
120g Golden Caster Sugar (alternatively use Caster Sugar)
1/2 vanilla pod
2tbs Dark Rum
165g Chestnut Cream
60g Chestnut Puree
THE DAY BEFORE
Whip the egg whites on medium speed. When they start being white of foamy, start pouring very slowly the caster sugar. Do this in several chunks, leaving the eggs whites to absorb the sugar between adding more, all the while leaving it in medium speed.
Add all the sugar, and pipe onto baking paper where you will previously have marked your shape.
Mix Sugar and Water and bring to a boil. Let the syrup thicken slightly and pour your Chestnut Puree and Vanilla. With a whisk, mix continuously on low-medium heat for about 8-10 minutes. Add the Dark Rum or Cognac in the end and leave to cool on the side.
If you have leftovers, use that Chestnut Cream as a spread on warm Crêpes or pancakes... Divine!
ON THE DAY
You will need a lined tray (I use reusable black mats) and a piping bag with a plain round nozzle (ideally a 8 or 10 diameter)
Sieve the Icing Sugar and Flour together and save aside with the Ground Hazelnuts.
Make a Meringue with the egg whites and the caster sugar.
Once your meringue is stiff enough, fold in gently the powders.
Fill your piping bag and pipe 4" diameter discs.
PRO TIP: if you have a 4" round cookie cutter (alternatively you can use the top of a cake tin), dip it in flour and mark your mat with it. This will give you good markings to know where to pipe! Try to stay inside the lines it will make your life easier when you assemble your cake.
Bake at 180ºC for about 12-15 minutes or until golden on top. Turn halfway through for an even bake. Pull the mat out of the baking tray onto a cooling tray as you remove it from the oven - it will keep on drying out if you leave it on the hot tray.
In a saucepan, mix the 100g of blueberries and 10g of sugar and start heating gently, mixing to make sure the sugar coats the fruits. When you reach 40-50ºC, pour the mix of pectin and remaining sugar, and from then keep mixing gently. When you reach a first boil, count about one minute and keep mixing making sure your confit does not burn. Stop the heat and pour into a clean jar and leave to cool down.
In the bowl of your standing mixer, whip the butter with the whisk attachment. When light and fluffy, add the chestnut puree first, then mix again, and finish with the Chestnut Cream. Always make sure to scrape off the side of your bowl and whisk one last time if necessary. Set aside.
ASSEMBLING THE CAKE
PRO TIP: To protect your meringue from the humidity of the cake, I always coat it with a thin layer of melted cocoa butter. This will make your meringues "Waterproof", so definitely an important step!
Start with a disc of meringue (you might have to attach it with a bit if buttercream as it will have no grip whatsoever on your cake board!).
Pipe a layer of Chestnut buttercream, then with a piping bag drizzle some Blueberry confit and add a disc of Dacquoise. Add Buttercream, Blueberry Confit, and another disc of meringue.
Repeat the same process until finishing with the last disc of meringue on top.
Reserve in the fridge - ideally overnight, or at least for 2-3 hours.
You can now cover and decorate your cake as desired.
I covered it with a mixture of plain and Chestnut Buttercream for that lovely marble effect, and finished it off with some white drips. Let your imagination take over from here and have fun decorating.