Chocolate Chestnut 'Mont Blanc' Cups
I may be vegan but for me the queen of Christmas is, and will always be, the incomparable Nigella. No-one oozes festive cheer in quite the same way as the lovely Ms.Lawson and whilst I would love for her to promptly board the vegan bandwagon (Jamie and Hugh are both enthusiasts) and give us some plant-based recipes already I'm quite happy to veganize her already existing ones myself in the meantime.
I'm not ashamed to admit that leafing through 'Nigella Christmas' is undoubtedly one of my guilty pleasures at this time of year and I have a few firm favourites that I rely on regularly to help me out of any impromptu visitor fix - with her oh-so-easy 'Easily Scaled Mont Blanc' dessert being just one of them. I probably don't need to tell you that this is one of the simplest veganisations (is that even a word?) ever. Simply swap out the whipped cream for sweetened whipped coconut cream or a dollop vanilla infused cashew cream (or even some soyawhip... I won't judge if you wont!) and et voila you have yourself an awesome vegan alternative pronto. But (but, but, but!) having done this several years on the trot I thought I'd go one step further and switch it up with my own (slightly healthier) version that still has the chocolately 'soil' bottom, unctuous chestnut filling and luscious 'snow capped' cashew cream peak... somebody has clearly been reading too much la Lawson lately, ahem. In all honesty though, I was delighted with the richness of this (almost but not quite 'raw') dessert and despite being refined sugar-free (all hail the mighty medjool date) it felt decidedly indulgent - perfect for an alternative Christmas pud. Dont' panic though, I'm still obsessed with these little French tins of sweetened 'marron' joy and you'll probably find me spoon in hand eating it directly from said receptacle with gusto over the festive period. However, should I find myself in another chestnut bind (these things happen) I'll know exactly what to do, safe in the knowledge the results will be equally decadent and impressive. Hurrah!
what you'll need
for the chestnut puree
1 cup cooked chestnuts
3/4 medjool dates
1 tsp vanilla extract
for the base
1 heaped tbsp chesnut puree
1 heaped tablespoon cocoa powder
1/2 cup chopped almonds
for the cream topping
1 cup cashews
1 tbsp agave
1 tsp orange extract
what you'll do
soak the cashews overnight. drain, rinse and blend with the agave and about 1/4 cup water until smooth, adding a little more water as and when needed. once completely smooth and creamy add the orange extract and blend until incorporated. chill.
blend the chestnuts with the dates, vanilla extract, salt and a splash of water until smooth. you may need to scrape down the sides of your processor several times. chill.
blend 1 tbsp of the chestnut puree together with the cocoa powder and almonds until it form into a putty. press about a tablespoon's worth into 4 muffin moulds and chill in the freezer for about an hour.
remove the chocolate bases from the moulds and fill each one with chestnut puree. top with the orange infused cashew cream and finish with a little grated chocolate and grated orange zest. chill until needed or eat immediately.