Apart from macarons, the only other dessert that I have kept a considerable distance from (baking-wise) is Mont Blanc. On both counts, I'm so afraid to fail. Visions of flat, brick-like macarons and lumpy chestnut noodles haunt me everytime I peruse through fabulous recipes involving these two sweets. Other kitchen warriors have been there, done that, conquered their fears. I know I should be heading the same way and get past my discomfort zone (God knows I've cooked up more brain-twisting recipes!), but I also know I needed to be ready in my own time.
Today, as I was busting my chops climbing ten hills under the blazing heat of the morning, it finally hit me. There I was, a strong, fearless Indiana Jane-type who can traverse various degrees of rough terrain pretty effortlessly, and I was afraid of what? Two miniscule desserts that are popular in France (and Japan)? It was on the way home, still covered in dry dust, that I decided the time has come to rip off those training whisks and bring on the heavy artillery. I was going to finally attempt Mont Blanc. The most beautiful version I could muster.
|Fits right in the palm of my hand.|
Now, the traditional Mont Blanc topping is usually made with chestnut puree. To be honest, the combination of having to tediously produce chestnut puree from scratch plus its natural sepia color left me more than a little lustless. If I was going to do a Mont Blanc, it definitely would be far from Blanc. Mine would have a vibrancy that reflects who I am! Exit chestnuts, enter purple sweet potatoes. Both were equally comforting, at least that was my justification to stave off any iota of guilt about the switch.
I didn't really want to spend a huge amount of time making a cake base worthy of a thesis, so I stuck with a light butterless recipe I always use for thin bases most suited for mousse cakes. It was good for this purpose too, and more importantly, it was dead easy to rustle up. This was baked while waiting for the sweet potato mousse and chocolate ganache to firm up in the fridge. Oh, did I mention chocolate ganache? Yes, I substituted the traditional meringue filling for Mont Blanc with ganache balls, and guess what? Sometimes, it's worth breaking a few rules to get a completely different experience of happiness!
Okay, so it wasn't totally authentic Mont Blanc. But if I hadn't told you that, would you even have known?
Mont Blanc-Inspired Purple Sweet Potato Cakelets
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons hot water
¼ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1. Preheat oven to 170C. Beat eggs and hot water in a bowl until foamy (1 minute).
2. Add sugar and vanilla and beat further for 2 minutes.
3. Sieve flour, baking powder and salt together and add to the egg mixture. Mix quickly at the lowest speed.
4. Pour 1-2 tablespoons of batter (depending on the size of your mould) into the base of greased muffin tins. Bake for 20 minutes until risen and golden.
5. Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes before turning the cakelets out. Leave to cool completely on a rack.
Sweet Potato Mousse
1 ½ cups purple sweet potato, boiled and mashed
1 ½ cups milk
¼ cup sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoon gelatine, softened in 2 teaspoons cold water
5 tablespoons of butter, softened
1. Place the mashed sweet potato, sugar, eggs, cornstarch and salt in a blender and puree until smooth.
2. Heat the milk in a large pan until it just comes to a boil, then remove from heat and pour quickly into the mixture in the blender. Blend ingredients for 1 minute, then return to the pan.
3. Let the sweet potato mixture boil for about 30 seconds, remove from the heat and stir in the softened gelatine until dissolved. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl to remove any lumps.
4. Leave to cool for about 10 minutes, whisking occasionally. Beat in the softened butter one tablespoon at a time until you get a glossy, creamy mixture.
5. Once it is cool enough, place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before piping onto a cooled cakelet.
Chocolate Ganache (recipe here)
You would need to cool this in the refrigerator for a few hours (preferably overnight) so that the ganache is firm when you scoop it with a spoon.
1. Take a heaped teaspoon of firm chocolate ganache and place it on top of a cakelet.
2. Spoon the sweet potato puree into a piping bag, and using a plain round tip (eg. No. 7 Wilton), pipe concentric circles around and on top of the ganache and cakelet until a small purple mound is formed.
3. Garnish the top with a sprinkle of roasted, chopped walnuts and/or sesame seeds and serve immediately, or store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a day.