Chestnut Chocolate Mountain

For a scrumptious Italian dessert try Valentina Harris's recipe, a delectable combination of chestnuts, chocolate and cream
By Valentina Harris
Chestnut Chocolate Mountain
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 10
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes , if using chestnuts rather than marrons glace puree
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes plus cooling and chilling
  • Effort: easy

Ingredients

Main

  • 750 g chestnuts, cooked and peeled or marrons glace puree
  • 300 g sugar, (if using chestnuts)
  • 125 ml cold water, (if using chestnuts)
  • a pinch of salt
  • 4 tbsp Strega liqueur, (optional)
  • 750 ml double cream or whipping cream
  • 1 1/2 tbsp icing sugar, sifted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 6 large meringues, crumbled
  • 150 g dark chocolate, (minimum 60% cocoa content)
  • 2 tbsp best quality drinking chocolate

For the decoration:

  • 6 marrons glaces
  • 12 crystallised violets
  • icing sugar

Method

1. If you are using chestnuts rather than marrons glace puree place the sugar and water in a saucepan and heat gently, stirring until the sugar dissolves and forms a syrup. Heat gently until the syrup reachs 102°C. At this stage the syrup forms a fine thread when a drop is dipped into cold water and pulled back between two spoons.

2. Add the chestnuts to the syrup with the salt and poach very gently over a low heat for 30 minutes. Stir in the Strega, if using, and reduce the syrup by a third. Set aside to cool.

3. Whip the cream together with the icing sugar and vanilla extract until it just holds a peak.

4. Divide the cream into three bowls. Mix three of the crushed meringues into one of the bowls.

5. Halve the plain chocolate and chop one half finely. Mix the chopped chocolate into another of the bowls of cream. Chill all three bowls of cream.

6. Shave some of the remaining chocolate into long curls and reserve in the fridge until required.

7. Melt the remaining chocolate in a heatproof bowl suspended over a pan of simmering water.

8. Push the syrup-poached chestnuts or marrons glace puree through a rice or food mill or push through a colander over a serving dish so that the chestnut strands form a mound.

9. Top with overlapping layers of chocolate cream, meringue cream and plain cream (reserving a little of the plain cream).

10. Sprinkle the remaining crumbled meringue on top of the mound to form the 'peak' and spoon round the remaining plain whipped cream.

11. Decorate the 'slopes' with melted chocolate, chocolate curls and dusted drinking chocolate.

12. Cover and chill, serving within 6-8 hours. Just before serving decorate with the marrons glace and candied violets and use icing sugar and a snowflake stencil to decorate the plate with a snowflake pattern.

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