Last weekend, I had the most blissful weekend in Liverpool kick-starting Christmas with a whole weekend of festivities, the highlight of which was seeing some of my very best friends for Christmas dinner on the Saturday night. We had the whole caboodle, each and every trimming and I decided to create this pudding because I had found some tiny little bambi statuettes in the Steamer Trading cookshop in Witney earlier in the month! If you’ve never been to the Steamer Trading cookshop, I really recommend it. There is so much to squeal over if you love cooking and so much to buy as gifts if you love somebody who loves cooking.
Back to puddings, I think I must have got the inspiration for this pudding from Nigella’s Christmas book where she has a pile of Rocky Roads adorned with small trees and small deer. I also love meringues and chestnuts so this is the perfect combination of flavours for me! You can make this with any time of meringue but I love mine, really crispy and shardy and ever so slightly creamy in colour. You can, of course, use ‘bought’ meringues but as the puddings is completely simple to prepare, you might as well just make some especially! But that does mean being a bit organised as meringues are best cooked at a very low heat in the bottom of an oven overnight and so if you want to make this today, I suggest bought!
- 2 large egg whites
- 4 oz caster sugar
- Put the egg whites in a large bowl and, using an electric hand whisk on a low speed, begin whisking.
- Continue for about 2 minutes, until the whites are foamy, then switch the speed to medium and carry on whisking for 1 more minute.
- Now turn the speed to high and continue whisking until the egg whites reach the stiff-peak stage. Next, whisk the sugar in on fast speed, a little at a time (I use a teaspoon), until you have a stiff and shiny mix. This is the point at which Come Dine With Me contestants start showing off with bowls lifted above their heads, you don’t need to, you’ll know when it’s stiff, pulling the whisk out of the mixture will leave peaks that don’t drop back down)
- At this point, you can spoon heaped dessertspoons of the mixture on to the prepared baking sheet, spacing them evenly, or you can pipe these from a piping bag.
- Pop them on the centre shelf of the oven, immediately reducing the heat to 120°C and leave them for 30 minutes.
- After that, turn the oven off and leave the meringues to dry out in the warmth of the oven until it is completely cold. You can then store these in tupperware for a while after.
Which then leads us to the Mont Blanc. I use the Clement-Fourrier brand of pureed chestnuts which is the one that you see most often and I think is sold in most places. I’m pretty certain Waitrose sell their own brand of pureed chestnuts but they must be pureed, not just chestnut halves or pieces. You need the wonderful sugary, grainy nature of pureed chestnut.
Eleanor’s Mont Blanc (complete with small bambi statuettes)
- 8-10 meringues
- 300ml double cream
- 1 tin chestnut puree
- lemon juice (1 lemon)
- 2 tbsp icing sugar
- brandy (optional)
- cocoa powder and icing sugar for dusting
- Pour the cream into a bowl and whip until soft peaks. Stir through the lemon juice, icing sugar and brandy if you want to use it. Take a spoon and fold in some of the chestnut puree not so that it is combined but to create a ripple effect through the cream.
- Pile the meringues at the foot of a nice cake plate and smear a layer of the cream mixture and some of the chestnut puree from the can.
- Add more meringues and repeat until you have created a mountain effect.
- Dust the ‘mountain’ with icing sugar and cocoa powder to resemble snow and soil.
- Arrange your small deer and trees at intervals.
- Store somewhere cool for up to 3 hours prior to serving.