Although on a misty end-of-winter day like today you wouldn’t know it, La Madera is on the slopes of a mountain called Alpe Faggeta. A respectable height of 1,510 metres (4,954 feet) makes it taller than Ben Nevis, the highest peak in the United Kingdom. This appenine hill, however, would be dwarfed by the highest peak in Italy. This distinction goes to Monte Bianco, aka Mont Blanc, which straddles the French-Italian border and at 4,810 metres (15,780 feet) is the highest point in both countries, as well as Western Europe.
To the best of my knowledge, and unlike Monte Bianco, no-one has ever named a cake after our beloved Faggeta. However, I think that the Monte Bianco cake has more to do with Faggeta than the famous alp. This is because the recipe is based on chestnuts and unlike Bianco, Faggeta is covered with chestnut trees and of course Caprese Michelangelo is famous for producing the Marrone di Caprese Michelangelo DOP.
So, to celebrate our mountain, I produced these Monte
Bianco Faggeta cakes. The recipe, like the mountain, is common to both Italy and France with small variations. Usually the chestnut cream is piped in vermicelli shapes over a mountain of whipped cream. I prefer to use the chestnut to make the lower slopes of the mountain and then top it with whipped cream snow.
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Baking time: 15 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes
125g (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
50g (6 tablespoons) icing sugar
a small pinch of salt
115g (1 1/8 cups) plain flour
150ml (2/3 cup) single cream
300g (10 ounces) chestnut cream
80g (1/3 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon rum
- Cream the butter, sugar, and salt together in a mixing bowl, using a spatula.
- When they are combined, add the sifted flour and continue to stir until the mixture begins to form a ball. Bring it together into a dough with your hands but do not work the pastry.
- Place the ball between two sheets of greaseproof paper and roll with a rolling pin until about 4mm (1/4 inch) thick.
- Place on a baking sheet and remove the top layer of greaseproof paper. Dust the pastry lightly with flour. Then replace the paper, turn the pastry over, remove the other piece of paper and dust the underside of the pastry lightly with flour.
- Bake at 180°C for 12 minutes. Remove from the oven, leave to cool for 5 minutes and then gently cut out eight rounds with a pastry cutter. Leave to cool completely before moving.
- Place the cream in a metal bowl and put in the fridge for at least 15 minutes. Then whip the cream to stiff peaks and place in a piping bag.
- Mix the chestnut cream together with the butter and then add the rum. Place in a piping bag.
- When the biscuits are cold pipe some of the chestnut and butter mixture onto each biscuit to form half a mountain shape. Then pipe the rest of the mountain peak using the cream. Dust the top with chocolate powder and serve.