Mont Blanc is a classic French dessert made of baked meringue, whipped cream, and sweet chestnut cream. The finished dessert is dusted with powdered sugar and appropriately named for the highest snowy peak in the Alps.
I’m not sure how it happened, but I’ve fallen in love with classic French pastries and desserts all over again. There are a few gaps in my repertoire that I aim to fill, such as St. Honoré and Gâteau Basque, but first up is this classic Mont Blanc. It is essentially made of three components: baked meringue, whipped cream, and chestnut puree. The version I made has all of those elements, plus my addition of raspberry jam. I like how the jam gives the dessert a touch of acidity to balance all those whipped, creamy elements.
The guide I used for making this dessert comes from the weighty dessert tome Patisserie by Christophe Felder. I purchased it back in 2013 when it was first available translated from French to English, and I quickly came love and rely on it. Unfortunately, the English version is no longer available, except for a few copies with high secondary market prices. Anyone wishing to sharpen their classic patisserie skills would benefit from using this book, so it’s worth looking for at your local secondhand book store. It won’t be hard to miss because of its size and hot pink cover!
Mr. Felder suggests simplifying this recipe with ready-made meringues from a bakery, but I used my own meringue recipe from Sea Salt Sweet. The meringues are assembled into a loaf shape simply by piling them against one another on a plate, and then they are covered with a stripe of jam down the center.
The assembled jam-covered meringues are topped with whipped cream and then smoothed into a mound, or mountain. Then, the entire dessert is covered with strands of sweetened chestnut puree, which are piped on using a small round piping tip (1/8 inch).
You might have already guessed that this dessert is best served the same day it is assembled. Together its components are a textural marvel, but the meringues will break down in a couple of hours from the moisture in the whipped cream. Still, it’s easy enough to have all the individual components made ahead and ready to assemble just before dessert service.
There are many variations of Mont Blanc, such as individual tartlets which are adorable and a bit more mountain-shaped than the cake version. Perhaps I’ll get around to making those this year, too!
If you make meringues from scratch as I did, you’ll have a little more meringue than you’ll need for the Mont Blanc. I piped the remaining meringue into small button shapes on parchment paper and baked them until crisp. They made cute little sandwich cookies with chestnut cream filling. They almost look like little macarons minus the ‘foot’, and I could not resist adding a few to the top of the dessert.
Mont Blanc is a popular dessert around Christmastime, and this cake almost feels like the Yule Log I never got around to making during the holidays. But with its garnish of red raspberries and edible gold leaf, I think it’s entirely appropriate for a cozy Valentine’s Day in.
If you live in the US, chances are your local grocery store does not regularly carry the chestnut spread and chestnut paste required for this recipe (I understand this has much to do with the American chestnut tree blight – read more here), but you can easily find these for purchase online. Almost all purees available are imported from France. Following you’ll find shopping links to the ingredients I used.
Classic French Mont Blanc
- 1 cup 200g granulated sugar
- 1 cup 120g confectioners’ sugar
- 6 egg whites at room temperature
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 3 tablespoons raspberry jam
- 1/4 teaspoon liquid red food color
- 7 oz. 200g chestnut puree
- 7 oz. 200g chestnut spread
- 1 tablespoon cognac
- 1 1/4 cups 300ml heavy whipping cream
- 1/4 cup 50g granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup 70g confectioners’ sugar
- Preheat the oven to 170°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper
- In a medium bowl combine the granulated sugar and confectioners’ sugar. Place the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on high speed until frothy. Add the cream of tartar. Mix again on high speed until they start to thicken. Gradually add the sugar mixture in a little at a time. Beat until the mixture is shiny and holds stiff peaks (this means when you lift the beaters from the mixture, the meringue will stand upright) about 5-7 minutes. To make sure the sugar is dissolved, rub a little of the meringue between your fingers to see if sugar granules remain. If grainy, continue to beat the meringue until the sugar is completely dissolved.
- Transfer the meringue to a piping bag with a plain tip (or just the end snipped). Pipe six large mounds of meringue on one of the sheets (about 3×3-inches each). Stir together the jam and food color in a small bowl. Use a small spoon to swirl 1 1/2 teaspoons of the jam into the top of each meringue.
- On the second prepared baking sheet, pipe button-sized mounds of the remaining meringue. Place both pans in the oven and bake the small meringues for about 2 hours, rotating the pans halfway through. Remove the button-sized meringues from the oven and let cool; transfer to an airtight container. Leave the large meringues in the oven and turn off the heat. Leave overnight to cool in the oven. Meringues can be made up to 3 days ahead and kept in an airtight container.
- Make the chestnut cream: Beat the chestnut puree with the chestnut spread in the bowl of an electric mixer until smooth. Beat in the cognac. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a small round tip 1/8-inch (or between #3-#4size, Wilton).
- Make the whipped cream: Place the cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whip attachment. Beat until slightly thickened, then gradually add in the sugar while the mixer is still running. Beat until thick and add the vanilla. Whipped cream is ready when it holds a firm peak.
Assemble the Mont Blanc
- 1/3 cup (3 oz.) prepared raspberry jam or raspberry pastry filling
- Handful of fresh raspberries
- Button-sized meringues from previous recipe
- Have all the components and ingredients ready to hand before assembly.
- Pile the meringues on a serving plate so that they form one long loaf about 9-inches long. Use a small amount of the chestnut spread to stick them together, if needed (I did not do this).
- Spoon the raspberry jam in a long strip on top of the meringues, being careful that it does not trickle down the sides. Spread the Chantilly cream over the meringues with a spatula, starting by covering the jam. Spread it all over the meringue and smooth to make a rounded shape.
- Pipe the chestnut cream in looping spaghetti-like strands all over the top and sides of the meringue until it is completely covered.
- Use leftover chestnut cream to fill the button-sized meringues to make tiny sandwich cookies. Arrange on top center of the chestnut cream. Add fresh raspberries and touches of gold leaf.
- Serve immediately.