Monday, October 11, 2010

The joy of autumn


It is already officially autumn, grapes and chestnuts time (in Italian uva e castagne) and why not try an Italian chestnut dessert called Montebianco, named after the highest Italian Alps mountain, Monte Bianco, raising to 4,810 meters (and French too since it sits at the border of the two countries) with the charming town and elegant ski resort of Courmayeur, only less than two hours from Milan.

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Montebianco can be decorated with Marrons Glacés (glazed chestnuts) and candied violets for a special occasion.
Montebianco (also called Montblanc if you are in France) needs some time for the chestnuts preparation, otherwise it is a very easy and rewarding dessert.
600 grams chestnuts and some sugar, salt and 2 bay leaves to cook them
100 grams of sugar
1/2 liter milk
100 grams of cocoa
a small glass of rum or cognac (in Italy we use acquavite also called grappa, very strong and intense)
shaved dark chocolate and whipped cream for decoration

Wash the chestnuts, cut through the shells with a small knife, put them in a pot of boiling water, boil them for about 10 minutes with salt, sugar and two bay leaves. Take out of the pot a few at a time and peel off the shells and inner skins while they are still warm.  Put peeled chestnuts in a  pot on the stove, cover them with milk and let it be absorbed at low heat for about 40 minutes (add more milk if necessary). Process in a blender or food processor or hand grinder while still warm, add the sugar, rum and cocoa then pass them through a potato ricer directly on the serving plate, consistency should be similar to mashed potatoes. Try to replicate the shape of a mountain.  Let it rest in the fridge for a few hours. When ready to serve decorate it with whipped cream, not too smoothly because you'll need to create the effect of  snow on the peak of the mountain. Add some shaved chocolate here and there if you like. 

This is another, more simple, way of presenting it.

montebianco

or in single portions.

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Don't count the calories, just enjoy it!

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5 comments:

Maria Killam said...

Wow that looks so good!

mary said...

Looks and sounds unbelievably good. (And chestnuts are nuts--so they are healthy: who cares about the calories). thanks. Mary

Anonymous said...

I remember on an october past, buying roasted hot chestnuts from an old street vender in Florence. I can still taste them today. Your post brought it all back to me. Thank you.

Brillante Home Decor said...

Anonymous (or should I call you Marcel?) we love hot roasted chestnuts in Italy also because on a cold and windy day in winter they bring some warmth to our hands when we walk around the city. They taste delicious too and we use to pair them at home with a glass of Ribolla Gialla wine, preferably sitting near a fire!

Anonymous said...

I did sound like Marcel didn't I ? He was right after all, Madeleines or Marrons, those are the things that fond memories are made of. I will keep the Ribolla Gialla in mind with the next fire.

 
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