Saturday, 28 May 2011

M is for... Marron meringues with a multi marron mousse marquise (marron chocolate cake topped with a layer of marron mousse and chocolate and marron mousse and marron praline), marron ice cream and marron butterscotch sauce washed down with Moscatel



I love chestnuts. I knew when I was planning my menu for the letter C, that as I couldn't include chestnuts back then (they weren't in season), then by gum I'd get them in for M. Which, incidentally isn't a cheat by Alphabet Soup's rules, as long as I don't use the same ingredient by two names, I'm in the clear. I just wish I hadn't been so quick to call a courgette a courgette given the veritable feast of possible vegetables already beginning with C compared to the sad and paltry list of edible anythings beginning with Z. The fact that M's menu ended up with a French feel has meant that it's all worked out rather nicely in the end. 


Marron meringues with a multi marron mousse marquise, marron ice cream, marron butterscotch sauce and marron praline

I'm not going to lie to you. This pudding is quite a fiddly and time-consuming undertaking. I really didn't mind though as I really do love chestnuts. It's one of those dishes that evolved to have more and more components as I was making it, with thoughts of "ooh hang on, wouldn't it be cool if"s. This isn't unusual in itself, but it probably meant that I wasn't as efficient as I could have been. I've tried to write  the recipes down here in the order of stages that make most sense for timings.  

Marron purée

This was an essential ingredient for all the components in this dish, but I didn't buy quite enough chestnuts so I had to cut my purée with a little ready made chestnut purée. To peel chestnuts, score their tops heavily with an "X" shape using a sharp knife. Place them in a saucepan of boiling water for about 3-4 minutes. Leave the nuts in the water while peeling a few at a time. Make sure you remove the thin brown inner skin too.

1 lb 4 oz/ 500g peeled chestnuts (see above)
12 fl. oz/ 350 ml whole milk
1 vanilla pod, split lengthways with the seeds scraped out
4 oz/ 100g caster sugar


Place the chestnuts, milk and vanilla pod and seeds in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and leave to simmer for about half an hour or until soft. Remove the vanilla pod, add the sugar and use a stick blender (if you have one, otherwise shove the lot in a liquidiser/ food processor) to blend into a smooth purée. Leave to cool. 

Marron praline

10 chestnuts, peeled
12 oz/ 300g caster sugar


First, boil the chestnuts in water until soft and then drain and dry. Place the sugar in a large frying pan, so that the sugar covers the pan in an even layer. Heat the sugar over a medium flame and leave to caramelise (be extremely careful here as boiling sugar can cause horrific burns). Once the sugar has melted and turned into a lovely caramel add the chestnuts, stir around a bit and leave for another minute or so. Tip about 4 tbsp of the caramel (without the chestnuts) into a small saucepan for the marron butterscotch and pour the rest out onto a baking parchment lined baking tray (don't use greaseproof paper unless you oil it first, or it will stick). Tip the caramel away from you for safety. Quickly level it out with a palate knife and leave to cool and harden. Once cold, roughly smash up the praline and blitz it in a food processor, using the pulse button. It's best if some of the praline is quite chunky and some is a fine powder.


Marron butterscotch sauce


Reserved chestnut caramel, still warm
2 oz/ 50g unsalted butter
5 fl. oz double cream

Over a gentle flame, add the butter to the warm chestnut caramel and stir until melted. Tip in the cream, stir through and increase the heat and bring the mixture to a rolling boil for about a minute before pouring the butterscotch sauce into a cold jug and leave to cool completely.

Marron meringues

Preheat the oven to 150°C (130°C Fan)


4 large egg whites
8 oz/ 200g caster sugar
A pinch of salt
1 tsp of vinegar 
1 heaped tsp of cornflour
A splash of vanilla extract
Marron praline (minus 2 tbsp for scattering later)


In a spotlessly clean bowl, whisk the egg whites with the salt until stiff peaks form. Continue to whisk and gradually, one spoonful at a time, add the caster sugar. Once all the sugar has been incorporated, your meringue should be stiff and glossy. Whisk in the vinegar, cornflour and vanilla and then fold in the marron praline. On a baking parchment lined baking sheet, carefully create even mounds (about 2 tbsp's worth of meringue in each) you can use a fork to create a pretty spirally imprint if you wish. Make sure you leave about a 2 inch gap between each meringue to allow them room to spread and pop them in the oven for about an hour or until crisp. Turn the oven off and open the oven door and leave the meringues to cool at the same rate that the oven cools. This way your meringues will have beautifully crisp outer shells and soft marshmallow-y middles. 


Marron and chocolate cake base


Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan)


6oz/ 150g dark chocolate
2 oz/ 50g unsalted butter
4 oz/ 100g marron purée
3 eggs, separated

A pinch of salt

4 oz/ 100g caster sugar
3 oz/ 75g plain flour
2 oz/ 50g ground almonds


Melt the chocolate and butter together in a heatproof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water. In the meantime, whisk the egg whites and salt together until stiff peaks form. In another bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until pale and fluffy, mix in the ground almonds, the marron purée and melted chocolate and butter. Sift over the flour and stir it through. Fold in the egg whites and tip the mixture into a baking parchment lined roulade tin, level it with a palate knife and bake for about 15-20 minutes or until the cake is no longer sticky to touch. Leave to cool on a wire rack.


Marron ice cream


4 egg yolks
4 oz/ 100g caster sugar
12 fl.oz/ 300ml double cream
1 vanilla pod, split lengthways
4 oz/ 100g marron purée


First, make a custard. Whisk together the yolks and sugar until pale and fluffy. Place the cream and vanilla pod in a saucepan over a medium flame to scald the cream. Pour the scalded cream into the egg and sugar mixture, stir it vigorously and then tip the whole lot back in the saucepan and place back over a gentle heat. Stir continuously until the custard thickens, but be careful not to curdle it. Strain the thickened custard into a cold jug, top with cling film and leave to cool. Once cold, whisk in the marron purée and place the jug in the fridge to get very cold before pouring the mixture into an ice cream maker (follow the manufacturers instructions). Once set, pop the ice cream in a tupperware box and stick it in the freezer. Remember to remove the tub from the freezer 20 minutes before serving to allow the ice cream to soften slightly.


Marron mousse and marron and chocolate mousse

for custard


4 egg yolks
4 oz/ 100g caster sugar
1 vanilla pod, split lengthwise
12 fl.oz/ 300 ml double cream


Whisk together the yolks and sugar until pale and fluffy. Place the cream and vanilla pod in a saucepan over a medium flame to scald the cream. Pour the scalded cream into the egg and sugar mixture, stir it vigorously and then tip the whole lot back in the saucepan and place back over a gentle heat. Stir continuously until the custard thickens, but be careful not to curdle it. Strain the thickened custard into two cold jugs, so you have an equal quantity of custard in each. Top the jugs with cling film and leave to cool. 


Marron mousse


1 jug of custard (see above)
4 oz/ 100g marron purée
2 leaves of gelatine
2 tbsp boiling water
2 egg whites


Soak the gelatine leaves in cold water for 10 minutes. In the meantime, whisk the marron purée into the custard. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Drain the gelatine and squeeze out any excess water. Return the gelatine to its soaking bowl and whisk in the boiling water until the gelatine has completely dissolved and stir this liquid into the marron custard. Gently fold in the whisked egg whites.


Marron and chocolate mousse



1 jug of custard (see above)
4 oz/ 100g marron purée
4 oz/ 100g dark chocolate, melted
2 leaves of gelatine
2 tbsp boiling water
2 egg whites

Soak the gelatine leaves in cold water for 10 minutes. In the meantime, whisk the marron purée into the custard, followed by the melted chocolate. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form. 
Drain the gelatine and squeeze out any excess water. Return the gelatine to its soaking bowl and whisk in the boiling water until the gelatine has completely dissolved and stir this liquid into the chocolate-y marron custard. Gently fold in the whisked egg whites.





Multi marron mousse marquise with marron praline 

Oil the insides of 8 ring moulds. Use the ring moulds to cut out a circle of cake, leaving the cake to sit in the bottom of the ring. Place each ring on a baking parchment lined baking sheet and make sure the cake is pushed to the very bottom of each ring. Pour in marron mousse to halfway up the ring mould and place in the fridge for about an hour or until the mousse has set. Next pour a layer of marron and chocolate mousse into the rings up the the top of each, levelling each with a palate knife. Return the mousses to the fridge for at least an hour until the top layer has also set. Sprinkle over some marron praline which you reserved from earlier.

Un-moulding

Place one mould at a time on top of an upturned egg cup, use a blowtorch or a hairdryer to heat the outside of each ring so that you can slide the ring off, pushing it downwards. Use a palate knife to lift the marron marquise off the egg cup and place on a serving plate. Repeat until you have un-moulded each one.

Plating up

Next to each marron marquise, place a marron meringue and drizzle over some marron butterscotch sauce. Use two spoons to make a quenelle of marron ice cream and place next to the meringue and serve with a chilled glass of Moscatel.




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