Montblanc and the First Chestnuts of the Season

This week we roasted the first chestnuts of the season. I have been feeling a bit under the weather and I needed something comforting and nothing says comfort like roasted chestnuts do. Besides, now that my parents are here, any excuse is a good one to cook, bake and snack. We are a bunch of non-stop grazers.

Montblancs are popular in France, but I had never tasted one until my French chef asked me to make some for Christmas brunch a few years ago. I fell in love with the chestnut cream and ever since, I have made them every holiday season. Buttery and not overly sweet cream. I even eat it on bread as a snack when no one is looking.

I built these on sable breton and inserted a mini chocolate mousse bombe in the center. Then the chestnut cream is piped on top with a special tip creating that spaghetti effect. How fun is that right?

Chestnut Cream

100 grams unsweetened chestnut puree
100 grams chestnut paste or chestnut cream
200 grams unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbs dark rum

Cream together the chestnut puree and chestnut paste until smooth. Add the softened butter, vanilla extract and rum and mix. Press the cream through a fine sieve to remove any large chestnut puree chunks. Place the cream in a piping bag with a “spaghetti” tip and pipe the cream on top of the breton and chocolate mousse dome.

This is best served slightly at room temperature so the chestnut cream doesn’t harden too much.

On another note, I am very flattered that Ez of Creature Comforts wanted to feature an interview with me in her blog. She is such an inspiration. Thank you Ez!

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67 Responses to “Montblanc and the First Chestnuts of the Season”

  1. Zane Z says:

    Absolutely phenomenal as usual!

    Keep up the beautiful work!

  2. raj says:

    i LOVE the gold on top of the icing! :)

  3. These look nice . I like the way you decorated them . I ve never cooked with chestnuts though,

  4. Mrs.French says:

    that’s it…I am catching the first flight out there! Your parents are there? I cannot imagine the decadent loveliness that will be filling your home…xo

  5. Tartelette says:

    Perfect and lovingly decadent! Finally catching up :)

    I used to always run out in the pastry kitchen because I kept grazing on it…I can understand the addiction!
    I popped open a can of chesnut puree tuesday night to make ice cream and B. does not like it…more for me :) !!!

  6. i love it, the picture simply amazing!!!!

  7. oooo yum, haven’t had this since last year, can’t wait to have some. Now must go chestnut shopping

  8. Mobula says:

    Aran!!! Tengo un problema a la hora de leer el blog, en el reader me sale la entrada completa pero no en tu página.

    no sé de donde sacas toda esta imaginación y creatividad a la hora de hacer tus postres, lo tengo decidico, te quiero de maestra, donde me des las clases es otra cosa, pero ya veremos….

    Ya me he cogido una de estas delicias y no tengo palabras (tengo la boca llena..

    besos para tus papis, Jon, C. y por supuesto para ti…


  9. Christy says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever tasted a good montblanc before.That would be the only reason why I’m not crazy for it. I love chestnut, though, so maybe I should try to make it mysefl instead of settling for inferior versions out there.

    I was reading Monique Truong’s ‘The Book of Salt’ a few weeks ago where I remembered one of the characters saying, “If there is no God, then how would you explain the chestnut?”

    I love the idea of having a surprise center nestled somewhere amidst that cramy, chestnut-ty goodness!!

  10. Suzie says:

    will be on my to do list
    before the chestnut disappears!!!
    thanks Aran as always.

  11. I love edible gold leaf, it makes everything look so grand!

  12. Marianna says:

    Mont Blanc is definately one of my top 3 favourite desserts (and it is on my to-do-list for this autumn/winter season!!!), and I love your version with the sablé (we are so used to seeing a meringue instead!) and the chocolate mousse center. Beautiful work, inspiring and impressive!

  13. morgana says:

    ¡¡¡ Qué divertidas !!! Yo he probado la crema de castañas hace muy poco y está buenísima. Me imagino todo el conjunto que has preparado y se me hace la boca agua…

    Que disfrute mucho, muchísimo de la compañía de tu familia.

    Un abrazo.

  14. Y says:

    Mont Blanc isn’t a terribly popular dessert here, but I quite like it, because I’m a big fan of chestnuts and chestnut puree. I totally missed out on doing a Mont Blanc inspired dessert last Winter though – bummer.

  15. Serena says:

    Ah we call it Monte Bianco, then again Italy and France share that mountain/dessert (LOL), but it’s the same thing.

    Anyway, we do it slightly differently in our family. We mix the chstnut puree with 2 tablespoons of cacao, some sugar and rum. That’s it. I’ll have to give your recipe a try.

    BTW, the lemon meltaways? were a success! Thank you

  16. sunita says:

    That looks absolutely decadent.. we’ve just got some chestnuts too :-)

  17. Eileen says:

    Is your mother a baker like you?

  18. Aran says:

    Eileen- My mom is the daughter of a pastry chef, the sister of three pastry chefs, the mother of another one and the aunt of four more. And although she worked at the front of the pastry shop since age 14 until she retired last year, she never baked. Unbelievable right? But she is a magnificent cook!

  19. Candace says:

    Love it… gorgeous pastries!

  20. what is that chestnut spaghetti? hehe. last week when i was at my parents all we did was eat too—ahhhhh i want to go back i hate eating oatmeal 2 times a day!!!

  21. diva says:

    i’d kill for roasted chestnuts right now. it’s somethin i’ve loved since young! amazing spaghetti effect. for a second i thought you’d made japanese soba on cake. beautiful mont blanc and so elegantly done.

  22. cindy* says:

    lovely! my mom loves chestnuts, but i don’t think she has had any chestnut desserts…i will have to look into some for her.

  23. Cakespy says:

    To Mallory Elise’s comment–I saw spaghetti too at first–albeit the most delicious, I want to eat my face full of it spaghetti I’ve ever seen. It’s so fanciful and lovely, as usual. I adore chestnuts!

  24. andrea says:

    recipe please??? thanks so much i really appreciate it!

  25. Aran says:

    Andrea- the recipe for the chestnut cream is in this post (at the bottom) and I linked to the recipes for the sable breton and chocolate mousse in this post as well.

  26. cheryl says:

    The chestnut cream makes me think of the Medusa, but in a good way. (Never thought I’d write that combination of words together.)

  27. I love the piping effect you did! Plus the chocolate mousse bombe is such a sweet surprise!

  28. leaca says:

    the gold is a nice touch.

  29. ana dane says:

    it’s the smell of those chestnuts roasting that’s so enticing. i don’t know if i’d manage to have any left over for a puree.

  30. Chestnut cream is one of those things that had me drooling…the photos are beautiful and the more I read about this, the more I wanted it. These sound amazing

  31. Anonymous says:

    for some reason the “continue for recipes” is missing from the bottom of the post…

  32. Aran says:

    Thanks so much for that! I don’t know what happened!

  33. kate says:

    I think I must ban reading your blog before any mealtime; I’m drooling right now (with a boring casserole in the oven.)

  34. I love chestnuts! I haven’t used any yet this fall so I thank you for the reminder.

    Hope you feel better soon.

  35. corine says:

    Montblanc was my dad’s favorite desert. We would have it for Chistmass, which was also his birthday. We would use purée de maron Augier and a push the cream through a meat grinder. It was quite an undertaking.

  36. Mitzy says:

    Wow, it looks stunning! I love montblanc and thanks for sharing the recipe. I want to make it too, however I don’t have the “special tip” that you mentioned :-( Do you know where I can buy that tip? Thanks in advance :-)

  37. Vera says:

    Very interesting twist on the classic, Aran! I love hidden surprises!

  38. linda says:

    Hope you’re feeling better now!
    So the chestnut cream/paste is sweetened?
    Lovely dessert, love the spaghetti look.

  39. Your photos are stunning! Always and even more!

  40. Aran says:

    Thanks everyone for your comments!

    Corine- wow! that is an undertaking. But I can see how hard it can be to obtain the puree. I bought mine already in a can. I cheat once in a while! :)

    Mitzy- you can buy the tip at any cake decorating store or any craft store that has a cake decorating section. it is readily available.

    Linda- yes, chestnut paste and chestnut cream are sweetened and sometimes they even have a little bit of flavorings such as vanilla and rum. It is much smoother than the chestnut puree too which makes the overall cream, smoother.

  41. Kitty M says:

    ooooooooh just discovered your blog! An amazing array of photography and goodies. My whole office is sitting ooohing with mouths watering!

  42. OMG, what a magnificent dessert! I love chestnut puree, so how could I resist such a delightful temptation!?



  43. nadia says:

    I am in love with these phtographs! I love the smell of roasted chesnuts… but how they look here are amazing this whole recipe is heaven!

  44. beautiful beautiful photos aran!! and i’m not sure how to say this but, mont blancs are one of my favorites!!!! In France if we see it anywhere we sing MONT BLANC MONT BLANC MONT BLANC because it’s not only delicious to eat, it has chestnuts, on eof the most divine creations, but Mont Blanc is fun to say over an dover again!…this recipe looks wonderful!

  45. I LOVE chestnuts. I remember going down a chestnut tree covered lane and picking chestnuts with my dad when we still lived in the Czech Republic. He would make little animals out of them for me by drilling little holes into the chestnuts and using bits of toothpick for legs, tail and eyes. Then we would roast and eat them. I will never forget that memory.

  46. Jescel says:

    i love your blog. i gain pounds just by reading it! your creations are all lovely and i’m sure they taste as fantastic as they look.

  47. Julia says:

    Your idea of comfort food is incredibly delightful and beautiful :) Too bad meatloaf and mashed pototaoes couldn’t look so good!

  48. Katie says:

    These sound wonderful. I adore chestnut puree. I eat it spread on bread too :)

  49. Cakebrain says:

    This is a stunning dessert! I love chestnut desserts!

  50. Inne says:

    That looks gorgeous Aran. Love the little chocolate surprise in the centre.

  51. Buba Cooks says:

    Madre mía Aran cada día que veo una nueva receta tuya me doy cuenta de lo poco que sé y de las ganas que tengo de aprender más para tener la misma soltura que tu inventando recetas. Que cosa tan rica, gracias por compartirlo!

    Por cierto una curiosidad…mi hermanO se llama también Aran..;DD

  52. Sounds amazing. I love chestnuts, they truly deserve the gold leaf. I can’t wait to make this.

  53. ChichaJo says:

    So beautiful! You have got me craving roasted chestnuts, which thankfully is also in season here too! :)

  54. A much deserved and excellent interview Aran! I hope the book people are not long in following up.
    xoxo carolg

  55. Hi there,

    I absolutely love your photos. Your photos and your delicious goodies are such great inspiration to me for making dollhouse miniatures. :) I plan to make some montblanc soon…

    Pei Li

  56. Anonymous says:

    This dessert is called ‘torche-marrons’ in French region Alsace and ‘vermicelle’ in Switzerland, I lobe it too !

  57. Angela says:

    I love the spaghetti effect! How fantastic that it was done with a piping tip—I thought when I first saw it that you’d used a sugarcraft/clay gun.

    Absolutely gorgeous as always, Aran!

  58. This is a beautiful blog!!!! I found it by accident, because I was looking for a description of Mont Blanc. When I was a kid, my favorite of all desserts (okay, one of my favorites, to be honest) was chestnut pure with whipped cream. In any form.

    In the special pastry shops in Bratislava, Slovakia, you could get a dessert (size of computer mouse) consisting of chesnut pure glazed with dark chocolate with a dollop of unsweetened whipped cream on top.

    Another dessert was pretty much a take on Mont Blanc, came in a little bowl filled with unsweetened whipped cream topped with a pile of chestnut pure pressed through a ricer.

    Here is the thing – the chestnut pure (let’s say hungarian style) was much less sweet than the french version. I believe that makes all the difference…

    I tried a Mont Blank in Paris. It looked beautiful. But the delicate texture and flavor combination of chestnuts and whipped cream was pretty much killed by too much sweetness.

    However, seems like these chestnut desserts of my childhood are history. Couldn’t find any last time I visited Bratislava. The collapse of communism brought about some unintended consequences…

    Anyway, I try to make those desserts at home at home, but glazing chestnut paste with tempered chocolate is a bitch!!!

  59. Szilvia says:

    Hello! I have just made your Mont Blanc. I surprised my husband with it. Actually we have just finished to eat two of them. It is my husband’s favorite dessert and we had it so many time in France and Japan but it is amazingly hard to find it in the U.S. Chestnut is hardly available even in the season. So I had to start from scratch. I bought whole roasted unsweetened chestnuts and created my home made chestnut puree and chestnut paste. Everything turned out well, however, I find the sable breton slightly too sweet. Next time I will put a little less sugar.
    Thanks for the recipe. My husband (who is French by the way) loved this Mont Blanc!

  60. Anonymous says:

    I tried the sable breton recipe today and it came out very well! Soft buttery and light! Delish! Thank you!

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  62. lital56 says:


    What is chestnut cream?


  63. […] Bravetart’s tartshell, Runny’s over a sponge cake, this one using meringue as a base, this one that may just be the original original, this square-shaped one courtesy of NoRecipe, Uncasual Patisserie’s full size version, beautifully shaped ones from Daily Delicious, sable Breton-based from the Sweet Spot (they also perfectly summarize my own confusion on all the possibilities), and the as always impeccable Canelle et Vanille. […]

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