Ottolenghi’s Mont Blanc Tarts

Recipe By:  Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh

Try this recipe for Mont Blanc tarts from chefs Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh’s cookbook Sweet: Desserts From London’s Ottolenghi.

Named after the snowy mountain they resemble, Mont Blanc tarts — with their white meringue, whipped cream and tan-colored chestnut purée can often taste more fabulous than they look, with all that beige and white. It was a moment of pure synchronicity, then, that at one of our weekly pastry meetings there were various things lying around that came together in a flash: empty tart shells, candied pecans, an open can of chestnut spread. At the same time, Helen and Yotam both grabbed an empty shell, filled it with the chestnut spread, spooned over smooth whipped cream and added the element that had been missing — the candied pecans — which brought the crunch and the look needed.

Ingredients
  • You will need eight mini fluted tart pans, about 3½ inch/9 cm wide and 1 inch/3 cm deep. Alternatively, you can make this in one large fluted tart pan, around 10 inches/25 cm wide and 1 inch/3 cm deep.

Flaky Pastry 

  • 1 2/3 cups/200 g all-purpose flour
  • 8 1/2 tbsp/120 g unsalted butter, fridge-cold, cut into 1/3-inch/1-cm cubes, plus extra, melted, for brushing
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 3 tbsp ice-cold water

Candied Pecans

  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp light corn syrup
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 cup/120 g pecan halves
  • 1/8 tsp flaky sea salt

Filling

  • 2 oz/55 g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
  • 1 cup/320 g sweetened chestnut spread (we use Clement Faugier; whichever brand you use, just make sure that it is not the unsweetened variety)

Vanilla Whipped Cream

  • 1 1/4 cups/300 ml heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp brandy
Directions Yield:  Makes 8
  1. To make the flaky pastry, place the flour, butter, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times, until it is the consistency of fine breadcrumbs, then add the vinegar and water. Continue to pulse for a few seconds, then transfer to a work surface. Shape into a ball and flatten into a disk, cover in plastic wrap and set aside in the fridge for 1 hour (or up to 3 days).
  2. Preheat the oven to 400°F
  3. When ready to roll out, allow the pastry to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes (if it has been in the fridge for more than a few hours) and place on a lightly floured work surface. Roll out the dough to about 1/8 inch/3 mm thick and cut out eight circles, 5 1/2 inches/14 cm wide. Reroll the dough, if necessary, to get eight circles.
  4. Transfer one circle at a time to the 3 1/2-inch/9-cm-wide and 1-inch/3-cm-deep fluted tart pans and gently press the pastry into the corners of the pan; you want it to fit snugly and for there to be a decent amount of pastry hanging over the edge of the pan, as the pastry can shrink a little when baked. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes to rest.
  5. Line the pastry shells in the pans with parchment paper or paper liners and fill with rice or dried beans. Bake for 18 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown at the edges. Remove the rice and paper and bake for another 8 minutes, or until the shell is golden brown. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool completely on the baking sheet. Once cool, trim the shell (so that it can be removed from the pans) and set aside until ready to fill.
  6. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  7. To make the candied pecans, combine the maple syrup, corn syrup and granulated sugar in a small saucepan and place over a low heat. Stir gently until the sugar has melted, then add the pecans and salt. Stir so that the nuts are coated in the syrup, then tip the nuts onto the lined baking sheet. Place in the oven for about 8 minutes, or until the syrup is bubbling around the nuts. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and set aside until completely cooled. When the nuts are cooled, the glaze should be completely crisp; if not, return them to the oven for a few minutes more. Once cooled, break or roughly chop the nuts into 1/4-inch/0.5-cm pieces and set aside until ready to use.
  8. To make the filling, place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, making sure that the base of the bowl is not touching the water. Stir occasionally until melted, then use a pastry brush to coat the inside of each tart shell with the chocolate. Set aside for about 30 minutes, to set, then fill with enough chestnut spread so that it rises about halfway up the sides of the tart shells.
  9. To make the vanilla whipped cream, pour the cream into the bowl of an electric mixer with the whisk attachment in place. Add the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla extract and brandy and beat on high speed for 1 minute, or until medium-soft peaks form.
  10. Divide the whipped cream among the tarts, so that it is slightly domed on top of the chestnut spread. Sprinkle the candied pecans generously on top— you might have a tablespoon or two left over, but these can be saved to munch on, or to sprinkle over your next bowl of breakfast granola or porridge.
  11. The pastry can be made up to 3 days ahead and kept in the fridge (covered in plastic wrap) until ready to roll. It can also be frozen for up to 2 months. The candied pecans can be made up to 5 days in advance and kept in an airtight container.
  12. Once assembled, the tarts are best eaten on the day they are baked.

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Source:
Copyright ©2017 by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh. Photographs copyright ©Peden+Munk. All rights reserved. Published in Canada by Appetite by Random House®, a division of Random House LCC.
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