This exquisite dessert takes a little time to prepare, but it is a real treat – for the eyes as well as the taste-buds.
½ sheet leaf gelatine
180g tinned sweet chestnut purée, chilled
200ml whipping cream, chilled
100ml Cognac or Armagnac
8 long, fine langues de chat, half-coated in chocolate
caramel sauce (25g caster sugar, 20g butter,
100ml double cream, ½ vanila pod)
6 fresh chestnuts
Soften the gelatine in a shallow dish of cold water for about 5 minutes. Whisk the chestnut purée and cream together in a bowl to a ribbon consistency. Heat the Cognac in a small pan, then remove from the heat. Drain the gelatine and squeeze out excess water, then add to the Cognac, stirring to dissolve. Transfer to a bowl and, using a whisk, work in a quarter of the chestnut and cream mixture until it is evenly combined, then fold in the rest.
Divide the mixture between 4 moulds, about 7cm in diameter and 6cm tall (ideally decorative). Refrigerate for 4 hours.
For the chestnuts, if using, split the skin of each chestnut on one side to a depth of 5mm, using a small knife. Put into a small saucepan with the milk and 125ml water and cook over a medium heat for 20 – 25 minutes. Remove from the heat and peel off the skins and softer inner peel, using a small knife. Return the peeled chestnuts to the pan and leave to cool in the milky liquid.
To turn out, dip the base of each mould in very hot water for 15 seconds, then invert on to a serving plate. Drain the chestnuts thoroughly, if using, and press through a sieve or small strainer, to create ‘chestnut vermicelli’. Scatter on top of the creams. Lay 2 langues de chat on each dessert and pour the caramel sauce around to serve.
Excerpt from the book Desserts by Michel Roux – Photograph by Martin Brigdale
Originally published in FrenchEntrée Magazine
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