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Fromage Mont Blanc

Angelina's, a tearoom in Paris across from the Jardin des Tuileries, makes the most famous Mont Blanc in the world. Theirs is a meringue cookie topped with whipped cream and thick chestnut cream. For some, the dessert is a little too sweet. An ode to mont blanc, this version uses fromage blanc because a good, fresh style of this cheese zests up dessert. Store-bought ladyfingers pay tribute to the Mont Blanc's meringue cookie, but I like amaretto cookies with this dessert, too. Packaged, already-steamed chestnuts are available at specialty stores.

Fromage Mont Blanc
Kirstin Jackson for NPR /

Makes 6 servings

8 ounces steamed chestnuts

1 1/2 cup water

1 1/4 cup plus 4 tablespoons cream, divided

2 teaspoons sugar

1 vanilla bean, sliced lengthwise

15 to 16 ounces fromage blanc

1 tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon powdered sugar, divided

6 ladyfinger cookies

Honey (optional)

Bring the chestnuts, water, 1 cup of the cream, sugar and vanilla bean to a boil in a medium-sized saucepan. Reduce heat and simmer on low for 25 minutes, until the chestnuts smash easily against the side of a pan with the back of a wooden spoon and the liquid has reduced to a thick, creamy consistency. Take pan off heat and cool until only slightly warm. Remove the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds with the back of a paring knife from inside the pod into the pan. Discard the pod.

Add the chestnut mixture to a food processor. Puree for 2 minutes on low. Scrape down the sides of the food processor with a spatula, add the other 1/4 cup of the cream, and blend for 30 more seconds until smooth and creamy. Set aside.

Place the fromage blanc, remaining 4 tablespoons of cream and powdered sugar in a medium-sized mixing bowl or in the metal bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk for three minutes, or on medium speed for 2 minutes, until light and fluffy.

Divide the chestnut cream among 6 parfait or wine glasses. Top with the whipped fromage blanc. Add a ladyfinger to each glass, and if you like a little extra sweetness to boost the chestnut's earthy flavor, a drizzle of honey.

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