Life's better with cake and a sprinkle of fairy dust
I love the perfume of freshly peeled purple sweet potatoes. It’s a romantic mix of floral notes of rose, lavender, lychee. Today I tried to marry this fragrance with a classic French dessert – Mont Blanc.
Traditionally a Mont Blanc comprises a meringue base, a dollop of Crème Chantilly and a covering of sweetened, pureed chestnut cream piped in “strings” on top using a special Mont Blanc nozzle. In this dessert, the chestnut puree is replaced by purple sweet potato puree.
Too many recipes on the Internet recommend using Sablé breton, a rich French butter biscuit, as the base. Stubbornly, I chose to make a traditional meringue base from scratch. I quickly made up the meringue batter, only to re-read the baking instructions and realise why so many recipes use a shortbread base. The meringue base bakes for THREE HOURS.
When the meringues have baked and cooled, a thin coat of melted dark couverture chocolate is brushed all over the top of the meringue and chilled to set. This step is important to ensure the meringue retains its crunch, a delightful contrast to the fluffy cream and sweet topping.
A generous dollop of Crème Chantilly is piped onto the shells and then placed in the freezer to firm up.
The sweet potatoes are steamed, mashed, passed through a fine sieve with a fair bit of elbow grease and gently folded into softened butter that has been whipped to a light and fluffy consistency. The mixture is then piped onto the top of the dessert. I didn’t have a Mont Blanc nozzle on hand, so I used a no.5 plain writing tip. On hindsight, I should have used a smaller tip. The strings piped with a no.5 tip seemed thick and too clumsy-looking.
A light dusting of icing sugar completes the snow-capped mountain.
The whole concoction was yummy, crunchy, creamy, rich and not cloyingly sweet as the traditional chestnut Mont Blanc sometimes is. My only gripe? The meringues were hollow and cracked! It didn’t affect the crunchy and light texture of the dessert though. I will strive for perfection the next time.