French pastries seem to be the epitomise the skills of a baker. So I have been longing to try as many as possible – just to prove to myself that I can do it.
This week was the Mont Blanc – traditionally, a meringue base, with whipped cream and piped sweet chestnut cream. But as my family are not a huge fan of meringue, I’ve altered the traditional pastry to include pate sucree (sweet shortcrust pastry) and chocolate.
I used dried chestnuts, which were soaked overnight, boiled in the pressure cooker for 25 minutes, drained, then food processed with the drained juices, and sugar, to a pipeable consistency.
Adapted from Pierre Herme’s Desserts. This recipe makes 4 times more pastry than for my 12 muffin sized tarts. Extra dough can be frozen.
- 250g unsalted butter, softened
- 169g sifted confectioners sugar
- 49g ground blanched almonds
- 2 large eggs, room temp lightly beaten
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 396g all purpose flour
- 50g, chocolate chopped
- Beat butter on low with paddle attachment until creamy. Add sugar, almonds, egg, salt. It may looked curdled, which is alright. Add the flour in 3 additions, whilst mixer is still on low, until dough just comes together. This happens in a matter of seconds. Do not overbeat.
- Divide into 3 or 4 pieces depending on size of tart. Press into a disk and refrigerate for 4 hrs-2days (or frozen for 2 months)
- Butter a tart ring and place on parchment paper
- Working on a lightly floured surface, roll dough to 1/16 to 1/8 inch (0.16-0.3cm) thick. Lift dough often and ensure surface is floured. Alternatively, roll out between cling film. Roll dough onto rolling pin and into tart tin. Do not stretch the dough as it will shrink later. Patch up any cracks with off cuts.
- Prick dough all over with fork (unless tart is to be filled with runny filling), and chill for 30 minutes.
- Bake blind with parchment extending over the top of the tart for 18-20minutes in preheated oven at 350F/176C. Remove baking beans, add chopped chocolate and bake for another 5-7minutes.
Vanilla whipped cream
- 300ml double cream
- 1 vanilla pod, scraped
- 1.5 tbsp confectioner’s sugar
Ensure the cream and bowl are very cold. Whip all ingredients until stiff. Be careful not to overwhip, otherwise the texture of the cream splits. This can happen in a matter of seconds.
Pipe a mound of vanilla cream onto the middle of the pate sucree, leaving an edge for the chestnut cream. Using a wilton 233 piping tip, pipe the chestnut cream around the vanilla cream.