I’m betting that most people outside of Japan and France would not know what a Mont Blanc is, other than as a maker of fine, expensive pens or a fully rad snowboarding ride. Conversely, such is the culinary cult status of Mont Blanc in Japan that I doubt few Japanese people grow up knowing that this gorgeous little dessert cake is in fact named after the white peaked alps of Mont Blanc. Even to me, the Japanese transliteration of Mont Blanc (monburan) may as well be a Japanese word, immediately connoting sweet chestnuts and feather light sponge cake, rather than a mountain range.
I’ll pay due respect to the original Mont Blanc though, given the dessert was created in its image. The cake is piled high with beautiful, sweet chestnut paste (usually piped thin like spaghetti), topped with some whipped cream to represent the snowy peaks, and finished with a halved glacé chestnut. Inside the Mont Blanc is usually layers of sponge cake, cream and sometimes meringue. Often, the cream layer has finely chopped glacé chestnut pieces mixed through which is an added treat.
Now, it’s fair to say that Mont Blanc the dessert isn’t well known outside of Japan and France because chestnuts (or marron) are themselves not nearly as popular outside of those countries, save a handful. We never have a problem getting them in Australia when in season, but no one really seems to know what to do with them other than roasting them. I have seen a few recipes call for chestnuts to be used in stuffing for roasts but that’s about the extent of our interest in them. This is a shame as I absolutely love chestnuts and it would be good to see it used more by Aussie patissieres.
Luckily you can get hold of bags of cooked and peeled chestnuts from Asian grocers very easily these days so I may just be able to recreate a Mont Blanc at home one day. Until then, I have a box of Mont Blanc flavoured Dessert Pocky to get me through.