Sunday, November 20, 2011

Shortcut Monte Bianco

I walked into the store and towards the counter. I had pretty much already made up my mind and knew where to look. I made my way through the crowds, nearing the display I was headed for. I could have almost reached what I had come for if it hadn't been for two people blocking my view. The sales person was showing his customer a product. I looked on a little impatiently, hoping I would make it to school in time to pick up the kids. It wasn't until they started discussing  skin tone and color tests that I did a double take.

Since when have jeans-clad, unshaven, sneaker-wearing students with back packs started buying/wearing  foundation? I ask this out of pure curiousity, I am not in the least preoccupied with a person's preferences or judging. 

I simply am not accustomed to seeing a guy that age, an age when most of us felt uncomfortable in our skin, standing self assuredly at a make up counter amidst a throng of women, trying on foundation and discussing the pros and cons of the product in question with the sales person. Even if I live in one of the world's fashion capitals, where appearance is a priority and something to be taken seriously. Even if I live in Italy, where men are known to be well-groomed and where the concept - if not the word -metrosexual probably originated.

I admit I have sometimes wondered with friends if that guy who just walked by was wearing bronzer. We have all read article after article about the male population being the fastest growing consumer group of cosmetic products (and surgery). But let's face it, not many of us are used to sharing their Diorshow mascara with the man in their lives.

Have you ever had to elbow a man to get to that last box of No. 2 foundation first? Do your male friends/kids wear make up? Is this a new trend?

Here is the kind of girly dessert a lady would order because of the creamy, soft texture and the sweet nuggets of marrons glacés and dark, toothsome bits of chocolate strategically hidden throughout. It is also the kind of dessert any husband eating a manly slice of bourbon pecan pie would constantly be stealing forkfuls from. It is also one of those shortcuts I often like to post about to make our lives easier. This is a quick version of a Monte Bianco, a popular dessert in Lombardy and Piedmont of quite certain French origin. The ingredients are pretty much the same and despite this taking literally just a few minutes to put together, the final effect is pretty sinful and delicious.

This recipe was given to me by a friend, Laura, without exact amounts, which just goes to show how forgiving it is. And why my amounts are pretty approximate. You basically have to eyeball your ingredients according to the size of your container. Those below should be enough for a springform. Ideally that is what it should be made in but I haven't replaced my broken one yet so I made mine in a glass, freezer-proof bowl. You could also make it in individual glasses.

500ml container of liquid whipping cream
1 tbsp sugar
1 box (about 10) marrons glacés
100gr dark, good quality chocolate
meringues (about 10 medium sized)

Two things before I tell you how to assemble this dessert (because there is no baking or cooking involved). First of all, in Italy you can buy broken up pieces of marrons glacés, which are much cheaper than buying whole ones. Go for those if you can find them because you will be chopping them up anyway. Secondly, I bought my meringues, chocolate dipped ones at that, because the meringue and I have not established a good relationship yet. You are more than welcome to make your own, it will just take a little longer. So, your first step will be whipping the cream, in which you will have added the sugar. In the meantime start chopping the chocolate (if you aren't using chocolate chips) and marrons glacés. Be sure to set aside some meringues, marrons glacés and chocolate to decorate the top. When the cream is whipped start layering, starting with a thick layer of crushed meringues. Top that with the whipped cream and chopped chocolate and marrons glacés. Add another thick layer of meringue and so on until you have finished the ingredients, about four layers. Decorate the top with the leftover meringues and marrons glacés (and chocolate if you like). Put in freezer and take out a few hours before serving. It has to be solid enough to slice and serve but should have a creamy and not too frozen texture.


  1. Only in Italy (or maybe not!) yes, that's what my husband and I call "peacocking" and Italian men give it a whole new meaning...

    Your monte bianco looks delectable. I miss marrons glaces. Among other things that were easy to find in Rome.

    Wow, the holidays are upon us, aren't they?

  2. Buono! looks like a great version of mote bianco. My mom shortcut was using sweet potatoes instead of boiled chestnuts, a very different recipe!

  3. This is perfect for a last minute invite dessert,so delicious and easy to throw together.

    I never knew of any of my male friends wearing make up (unless they wanted it to be visible, that is :) ) but I guess it makes sense. My boyfriend when I was a teenager was definitely obsessed about his looks: he spent much more time worrying about his clothes coordination and hair than I did - he was a very clever and masculine guy, I guess he was just insecure. Anyway, nowadays teenagers, both girls and boys, look so incredibly good to me when I compare them with the way I looked: where have acne and greasy hair gone?!

  4. This looks like the perfect dessert to throw together when you're craving something cool and creamy but don't have time to invest in some serious baking. I love the look of those chocolate dipped meringues too. I do like to make my own, but sometimes find shop bought meringues actually hold up better in this kind of dish :-)

  5. love marrons glaces! looking forward to eating them when in Beirut; by the way, I knew a man who claimed he knew more about lipstick and foundation that I did; he was a transvestite. He tried living his life this way but in Dallas, society is conservative and he was condemned and ostracized. I thought men in Milan were the most stylish I had seen anywhere in the world.

  6. Oh my! Doesn't this look and sound just delightful? I've never had monte bianco before, but I must change this sad fact ASAP! And I've never met a straight man who wears makeup...but maybe that will change too! Thank you for sharing another inspired recipe with me. I hope you are having a great start to your week. Many blessings this Thanksgiving to you and yours!

  7. Nicole - yes, peacocking is certainly one of the national sports here. I hope you have a lovely Thanksgiving!
    Pola - I like the idea of your mother's shortcut. I am sure the flavor is similar.
    LaCR - I have had a few boyfriends like that... I like a happy in-between. A man that does not walk around in 5-day old socks and unkempt hair but also not a man who spends his day in front of the mirror. This dessert really is a quick and tasty one.
    The LL - in my case it is just that I am not good at making meringues. I tried to make a Pavlova a while back and it did not turn out well...and since this is supposed to be put together quickly, store bought meringues are fine. But making your own would probably bring it to another level.
    ToB - I never had thought of it, but of course marrons glacés would be good in Lebanon. That makes perfect sense. I am sorry about your friends in Dallas, people should be free to make their own choices without being judged as long as they are not hurting anyone...
    Monet - I wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving too. Thank you

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  9. Lovely recipe and combined with your amusing story a fun read. :)


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