I absolutely adore any dessert made in the style of a Mont Blanc. A traditional French dessert which pops up in patisseries at Christmas time, it is classically made with a creamy chestnut purée or mousse that is piped in thin strands like vermicelli noodles to be shaped like a mound. It is topped with a cloud of whipped cream with or without crushed meringues to finish, in the spirit of the snowy mountain that is the namesake of this pudding. Chocolate will feature somewhere too. Classic French patisserie is perhaps best left to the professionals when nerves are fraught from the seemingly never ending to do lists and dare I say it, battling the shops for festive food and last minute gifts. Luckily, a baked cheesecake takes no special skill beyond having the patience to let it chill thoroughly before serving. My Mont Blanc Cheesecake is an achievable showstopper to wow your guests with this Yuletide.
Much like a mountain, you build up strata upon strata of deliciousness with this cheesecake. Starting with the “soil” – here, a layer of bourbon biscuits (or oreos if you can’t find them where you are). A nice chocolatey foundation to layer up the most silky smooth chestnut cheesecake layer which, seeing as it’s Christmas, has a splash of rum in. My taste testers said it gave the cheesecake a Bailey’s vibe and you could use that if you prefer or frangelico if you have a bottle of that collecting dust in the liqueur cabinet as it’s hazelnut taste would pair beautifully against the nuttiness of the chestnut. To finish the edible Mont we are building, pipe rosettes of vanilla seed studded whipped cream as if they were snowy peaks atop the mountain peaks. Top each slice with a little nugget of that very seasonal, very extravagant treat – marron glacé. The way they glisten like amber jewels finishes this party ready treat perfectly. The chocolate chips give a little texture to this luxurious and silky smooth dessert and if you can’t manage marron glacé, extra chocolate is hardly a bad thing.
My preference for cheesecake is always to bake it and preferably, in a water bath. I think I could write a whole book just about my love for cheesecake though and the various ways to make it! The silky texture is just sublime, luxurious is definitely the word to describe it. It’s not a difficult thing to do but you must check before you start that you have a deep roasting tin or casserole which will take the 9 inch spring form pan. See my Cherry Bakewell Cheesecake for more photos on how to make a baked cheesecake (and of course, for another delicious cheesecake recipe – Hungry Hubby and I can’t have Christmas without cheesecake!).
- 250g bourbon biscuits
- 50g soft butter
- 200g plain/unsweetened chestnut puree
- 225g caster sugar
- 1-2 tbsp dark rum
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 large eggs
- 150ml sour cream
- 3 x 180g full fat cream cheese
- 3 tbsp (level) plain flour
- 175ml double cream
- Seeds of a vanilla bean
- 2-3 tbsp dark chocolate chips or shavings
- 1-2 marrón glacé
- Preheat the oven to 200˚C and check you have a roasting tin big enough to accommodate a 9 inch cake tin.
- Prepare the base by pulsing the biscuits and butter in a food processor until finely chopped then tip into a 9 inch spring form pan and press down firmly to flatten. Wrap the base in two large overlapping pieces of foil and place in the fridge.
- Clean out the processor and start by processing the chestnut purée and caster sugar until well incorporated then add the cream cheese and repeat. Add the rest of the ingredients for the filling and process until smooth.
- Retrieve the cake tin from the fridge and pour over the cheesecake batter (I sometimes do this through a sieve to ensure there are no lumps but it's not crucial).
- Place the foil wrapped pan in a deep roasting dish and carefully, pour in enough boiling water from the kettle to come up just over half way up the sides of the tin. Take care not to splash and water inside the tin.
- Place in the oven and bake for 60 minutes, checking with 10 minutes left to go that the centre of the cheesecake retains a hint of inner thigh wobble. If it does, turn off the oven but leave the cheesecake in for half an hour with the door shut.
- Next, crack open the oven door with a wooden spoon and leave another half an hour then remove to a baking rack to finish cooling, discarding the foil at this point too.
- Once room temperature, cover the tin with cling film and refrigerate overnight before releasing from the spring form tin and transferring to a serving plate (leave it on the base if you're worried about transferring it off that to a plate).
- Whip the double cream and seeds of the vanilla bean until thick but not stiff and pipe 10 rosettes or dollop on around the edges of the cheesecake. Scatter with the chocolate chips and break up a marron glacé or two to adorn the top of the whipped cream rosettes.
- Eat within 48 hours or freeze in the tin for upto a month without the topping (thaw overnight in the fridge then proceed with topping as above).
- You can use oreos in place of bourbons if you can't get them.
- If you can only get sweetened chestnut purée with vanilla added to it, by all means use this - but substitute the caster sugar and the unsweetened purée in this recipe for one 415g tin (the Merchant Gourmet brand is divine).
- Adding 1 tbsp of rum for a subtle hint of booze, add 2 for the full throttle effect! Or substitute for 1 tbsp vanilla extract in total.
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