Monte Bianco... nut switch?
In the CHOW window next to a number of posts this Monte Bianco dessert keeps popping up,
despite its obvious relation to a totally far off season. Regardless, it sounds delicious, and is something I'd like to try and make for an upcoming dinner.
I mentioned the particulars to my mother, who pooh-poohed the chestnuts. I asked if hazelnuts or macadamias would be better, and she replied, of course they would, but they don't have the same properties when cooked.
Now, I can name a lot of nuts, but I don't know much about what they do or don't do when cooked. Has anyone made this recipe before? Can I just use the nice nuts my mom likes and everyone will be happy? Does the softness of the chestnut matter? Or will this be just as delicious with chunks of nuts and chocolate. That's sort of what I think, but I defer to you, people who cook better and more often.
I don't think you can substitute any other nut for the chestnuts in this recipe. Here, you are dealing with a nut that is actually more like a potato than, say, a hazelnut. You cook it until soft and then make a puree - you're not chopping or grinding the nuts like you might for another type of dessert. And, to be honest, the chestnuts do add a very particular kind of richness - not an oiliness or a crunchiness. More a creamy soft depth. Hard to describe. Just make something else or use chestnuts - if you can find any - and make it the way it's supposed to be made.
I don't think this recipe would work with anything other than chestnuts. The dessert consists of chestnut paste and chocolate, pushed through a ricer to form spaghetti-like strands. If you used any other nut, even chopped, you couldn't pass it through a ricer and you'd have, basically, chocolate covered chopped nuts. Their picture looks so great because they've built their chestnut paste over a baked meringue cookie.