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Montebello Torte - Red Green Week # 2

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


Montebello is a pistachio and red berries combination created by the great Pierre Herme. I've seen some that goes with strawberries, some goes with raspberries. The combination is different for different things, for example, macarons are with raspberries and, confitures and entremets are with strawberries. Read more here.

Initially I wanted to do a tube shaped sponge then top with strawberries and kiwi fruit to form a wreath. But then come to think of it, it sounded too "cincai"(simply done). It's not about making up the quantity, because I intended a candy cane, a wreath and a Xmas tree. It's not about winning the giveaway, it's about winning over myself. I have to make something I feel excited about.


Want to hang this on your door?

So, I decided to ditch the sponge idea and go with a flourless pistachio torte. I've done a pecan torte before and my family loved the flavour and texture of it. It's dense but yet lightfeel, beautiful and delicious. So, I'm going to refer to that recipe and make a pistachio one. The strawberries that I initially got  for the simple sponge wreath... will it go with the pistachio torte? I'm not sure. So, off I went googling...........

Ah-ha, I found that indeed, there's a combination for pistachio and strawberries and it even has a name to it,  Montebello, named after a mountain by Pierre Hermes, a "handsome mountain" in Italian. Read about it here., and see the mountain of strawberries on top a dacquoise (dah-kwaz).

But I'm not going to make any "dah-kwaz". It's sweeeeeet and our climate's humidity will kill the pastry. I've seen mine melting before my very own eyes and that was it. No more dacquoise of any sort. I'm going to stick with my torte, and the rest try to copycat at much as possible. Paris Patisseries says, Montebello is filled with Pistachio Cream. Yikes! Apatu? How to make? Is it pistachio meal folded into buttercream, whipping cream or what? Or finely blitzed pistachios made into some cream form? No idea! Right until I found this blog in Russian. Hahah, yes Russian. I used a translator to figure out the recipe.



The Russian recipe is very complete, gave me a shock to see how many components there are in that thing. This fella could've worked in PH's kitchen before, if not how can he/she know aaaaaallll the components without it being in any recipe book? (I'm not sure but I'm saying this based on no Montebello recipes found on the internet compared to loads of Ispahan, BTW, I could have missed them) And his/her version looked so much like the real thing. I have no idea about its authenticity, but it's my best bet rather than walking totally in darkness, a cane in aid amidst the blindness will be great.

The Russian recipe
The base  = cake+dacquoise
Pistachio Cream = pistachio paste +pastry cream+meringue+French buttercream
Glaze =Orange + Lemon + mint +Vanilla combination.

My version
The Base  = pistachio flourless torte
Pistachio Cream = pistachio pastry cream + whipping cream
Glaze = lemon + mint + vanilla
and I added basting syrup for the torte .



Now, how difficult is this cake?

The most time consuming part is peeling the pistachios. You can leave the skin on if you like, but I don't want the skin. So, that's why it took me so much time. I stayed up chatting with my husband until 2am peeling pistachios....The rest is quite easy (but I didn't say it's quick), that is if you've got your egg white technique right, or your whipping cream technique. I kept the decoration method simple, that is to pipe squiggles all around the cake. But instead you can skip all piping and just pile on the cream, it's ok. No need to be giving it a flawless surface.



The outcome : Lip smacking, full pistachio flavour in both the torte and cream. The ingredients in the syrup and glaze complemented the pistachio so so well. The flavours were well mingled and nothing stood out and interfered with the pistachio, but only gave the cake a flavour and fragrance boost. I didn't ditch the mint for decoration, instead ate them too. Everybody (Mike's relatives came back for the weekend) raved about this torte. I did the right thing by basting the torte with the syrup, but I think I could use more mint rather than just 4 leaves, or was it my homegrown ones are not as fragrant?

One word for this torte : Beautiful,  and it feels poetic when the flavour unfolds in your mouth. Sorry, more than 1 word, hahaha! Can't help it



Mike's relatives asked me if someone wants to order this cake, how much will I sell this for?
Hmm.. I don't even want to think about it because I'm in Kuala Kangsar, not KL. Who will appreciate this labour of love, and if I ever reveal the price, it'll knock their socks off. So, why bother?


Montebello Torte (Flourless Pistachio Cake with Strawberries)
Recipe created by : Wendyywy
Idea based on Pierre Herme's creations


The Torte
Recipe source: Wendyywy

98gm yolks ( from 6 medium eggs, Grade C)
30gm sugar
230gm powdered pistachios,
1 drop apple green food colouring

190gm egg whites ( from 6 medium eggs, Grade C)
30gm sugar
½ tsp cream of tartar

Other components
Pistachio Cream
Citrus syrup
Citrus glaze
300gm or more strawberry halves (keep chilled all the time)
Chopped pistachios (the specially selected green ones)

1. Preheat oven at 150(fan)/170C. Prepare a clean tube pan or a regular 9 inch round pan (grease base, and leave the sides clean)
2. Beat yolks and sugar until pale and fluffy. Mix with food colouring.
3. Beat egg white until frothy, put in cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks. Put in sugar and beat until stiff (stiff hooked peaks).
4. Pour the yolk mixture into the whites and half the nuts. Fold until half incorporated and pour in the balance of nuts and fold until well incorporated.
5. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 30 -40 minutes. (My tube pan was done in 30 mins)
6. Invert to cool for 15 minutes and then turn it upright again. Release the sides and let the torte coll down completely. It will shrink by half. Remove from mould and chill (covered until it’s time to fill with cream)
7. When every component is prepared, remove cake from fridge and place onto serving platter.
8. Brush citrus syrup all over the torte.
9. Put pistachio cream into a piping bag fitted with a 3mm plain nozzle. Frost cake by squirting the cream all over the torte.
10. Arrange strawberry halves onto the cream.
11. Sprinkle chopped pistachios over and chill the whole cake for about 30 minutes(or freeze 10 minutes).
12. Glaze the cake especially the strawberries with the citrus glaze. Drizzle the glaze over the nuts and everything.
13. Top with some icing sugar if preferred, but it melts anyway :p.


***********************************
Powdered pistachios
Recipe source: Wendyywy

250gm pistachios
100gm sugar

1. Bring a pot of water to boil. Put all the pistachios in at once. Let it sit for 1 minute. Drain well. And remove the skins of the pistachio. Discard bad nuts. Place nuts in fridge, spread out and uncovered overnight to dry.
2. Spread nuts onto baking pan and bake them at 150(fan)/170C until they start to smell good, but still retaining their colour. (Mine took 8 minutes without preheating) Remove from oven and let it cool to slightly warm.
3. Select the greenest nuts(chopped for topping) and make sure you have balance of 200gm pistachios for powdering.
4. Divide the 200gm nuts and sugar into 3 and mill them until fine. Break clumps if they seem to clump together.

**************************************
Pistachio cream
Recipe created by: Wendyywy

2 egg yolks
100gm whipping cream
70gm powdered pistachios
10gm cornstarch
1 drop green food colouring

200gm whipping cream
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp gelatin
1 Tbsp water

1. Mill powdered pistachio with cornstarch to get a finer texture.
2. Prepare pistachio pastry cream. Mix yolks with cream, and on low heat until it turns slightly warm, put in powdered pistachios and cook until it begins to thickens.(if using heavy based pot, stop when it starts to thicken. If regular stainless steel pots, cook until it thickens. When you stir, the whisk leaves trails that you can see the base of the pot). Put into a bowl, let it cool down, cover with cling wrap and chill until time of use. (These steps can be done right after the torte goes into the oven for baking)
3. 30 minutes before frosting time, put ceramic/glass mixing bowl into freezer. (If using stainless steel, skip this and place bowl in a ice water bath only when you want to start frosting.)
4. When it’s almost time to frost, place water in a small heat proof bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over and let it sit for 1 minute. Melt it either over hot water bath or in the microwave. See method here. Let the mixture cool down, it won’t take long.
5. Remove mixing bowl from freezer and put in whipping cream. Beat until streaks start to show and put in sugar and beat until soft peaks. Put in gelatin mixture and beat until stiff.
6. Remove cold pistachio pastry cream from fridge.
7. Put a few Tbsp of the whipped cream into the pastry cream, fold to lighten it. Repeat with a few more Tbsp of whipped cream.
8. Pour the pastry cream into the whipped cream and fold until incorporated.
9. Use immediately or keep chilled before frosting. Best made less than 1 hour ahead of frosting.

************************************
Citrus syrup and glaze
Recipe referred and modified from: Niksya

100gm water
50gm sugar
1 tsp lemon zest
1 Tbsp lemon juice
½ tsp vanilla extract
4 mint leaves, thinly sliced
1 tsp gelatin
1 Tbsp water

1. Put gelatin and 1 Tbsp water into a heatproof bowl. Place it on top of the weighing scale.
2. Bring water, sugar and lemon zest to a boil. Let it simmer for 1 minute then remove from heat. Stir in mint leaves, lemon juice and vanilla extract. Let it sit for 30 seconds.
3. Place strainer over (1) and and pour in 50gm of the syrup into the gelatin mixture. Stir until gelatin melts. This is the glaze.
4. Strain balance of syrup into another bowl and let it cool down. This is the syrup


Have a slice of this beautiful Montebello.... it's addictive.



I am submitting this to the Christmas Giveaway in

*********************************

I am submitting this post to Aspiring Bakers #14:
Creative Christmas Bakes (December 2011)
hosted by Hankerie

52 lovely notes:

Elin December 7, 2011 at 12:11 PM  

Wendy ! Well done....love the combination of the strawberries and pistachio. Must be flavorful...yummm! Your theme well worded Red and Green Week...hahaha thanks to Swee San :)

rahel December 7, 2011 at 12:19 PM  

Hai Wendy...macam nak pengsan i tengok kek ni..cantik sangat..dan semestinya sedap hingga menjilat jari..nyum nyum nyum..

搵到食 December 7, 2011 at 12:36 PM  

wow...it is sooooooooo beautiful.

Sonia (Nasi Lemak Lover) December 7, 2011 at 1:16 PM  

Are you bringing this to pot-luck party? hehehe..Wow, look so pretty and must be very yummy too!

wendyywy @ Table for 2..... or more December 7, 2011 at 1:24 PM  

Elin,
More red green from you too, I hope, loved ur roulade!


rahel,
Jangan pengsan! Nah, wendy kasi minyak cap kapak satu. Ambik!


搵到食,
Thank you



Sonia,
The problem is, i have no where to keep a "cake". Even if unassembled, I have no idea where to keep the components

Sonia (Nasi Lemak Lover) December 7, 2011 at 1:30 PM  

maybe i can make this, let me consider first, too many steps, "tau teng", hahaha..

Yummy Bakes December 7, 2011 at 1:43 PM  

Wendy, this is very pretty.

beeb beebot December 7, 2011 at 1:45 PM  

omg! drooling~ nak sepotong :D

“追食富迪” December 7, 2011 at 1:46 PM  

喔!太漂亮!太吸引人了!您真棒!

Elin December 7, 2011 at 2:07 PM  

Wendy...thanks , yea...coming soon LOL!

Ah Tze December 7, 2011 at 3:09 PM  

Wow, this is a beautiful creation!

Dumpling Love December 7, 2011 at 3:13 PM  

This looks sublime, Wendy!!! It's making me even more hungry..haha.

yvonne December 7, 2011 at 3:45 PM  

You always come up with amazing creations, Wendy. This is a mouth-watering recipe to die for! I'm staying 30 mins away from KK *ahem*

Kitchen Corner December 7, 2011 at 4:07 PM  

This is beautiful! I dun want to hang it on my door but rather eat it haaahaaa... Very creative work, will try it when I got time. Thanks for sharing!!

Sharon @ Feats of Feasts December 7, 2011 at 4:22 PM  

what an awesome looking cake....it really speaks Xmas!!

Bunnies,  December 7, 2011 at 5:37 PM  

This looks like an award winning cake! However, I noticed that the cake is compressed from the weight of the fruits and nuts. Is it suppose to be like that??

Janine December 7, 2011 at 5:47 PM  

OHMYGOSH beautiful is not even close to describing it! I feel like grabbing my screen now! I love the strawberry-pistachio combination, after trying it in a gelato, and I've been wanting to recreate something like that but yours is just phenomenal! I'm definitely bookmarking this to try!

PS - is there a fast way to shell pistachios? ;p I take ages!

Sem December 7, 2011 at 6:11 PM  

I'm really impressed, it's so beautiful and admired your creativity and patience.

Ellena | Cuisine Paradise December 7, 2011 at 7:40 PM  

OMG!!!! This is totally awesome!!! Love the colours, texture and presentation of this Christmas bake!

Happy Flour December 7, 2011 at 8:15 PM  

Oh! This is very impressive.

lena December 7, 2011 at 8:40 PM  

very very beautiful! see, i told you ..you can come up with so many creative ideas..you made it more simple and i trust this is yummy delicious!

Anonymous,  December 7, 2011 at 9:37 PM  

Hi Wendy, this is really a very beautiful cake! If I were to make this, I'm thinking of using store bought ground almond or ground hazelnut for the torte. And as for the pistachio cream, I'm thinking of using pistachio paste (instead of pistachio powder) selling at bake specialty store (coz I don't have a grinder at home. If I use my blender, then the nuts would turn into paste form). What do you think? Does that mean I need to add more sugar to the recipe, since your homemade pistachio powder contains some part of sugar?

Is it ok if I don't brush citrus syrup over the torte? Would the torte be too dry? Coz if I'm too busy I might not be making the glaze and syrup...Or would there be a big difference in the taste/texture if without their presence?

Thank you so much for sharing such great recipe.

~New Baker

mary chey December 7, 2011 at 9:40 PM  

You're super creative. I like the theme colour & its blends welll during christmas season.

ICook4Fun December 7, 2011 at 10:23 PM  

This is really pretty Wendy. Too pretty to be eaten. I just bought a big packet of pistachio powder and thought of making macarons. Maybe I should make this for Christmas. Thanks for the sharing this cake with us.

wendyywy @ Table for 2..... or more December 7, 2011 at 10:28 PM  

Yummy Bakes,
thanks


beeb beebot,
ambik, jangan segan


“追食富迪”,
Xie xie


Ah Tze,
thanks


Dumpling love,
go and eat something... don't torture urself, haha.


Swee San,
Ok, u come to my house


yvonne,
U want to order from me ah, hahaha



Kitchen corner,
I do hope u can find the time to try this out ;)
You can spread out the work


Sharon,
thanks... hey are u joining in the fun?

wendyywy @ Table for 2..... or more December 7, 2011 at 10:31 PM  

bunnies,
This cake is gluten free, hence, structuraly weak. Yeah, got sort of compressed, so must be handled with care, even fingers must be really gentle.


Janine,
I bought shelled ones, I just needed to skin them.


Sem,
Not much patience involved with this cake, haha. Rather straight forward.


Ellena,
it's for a christmas event.. must be Christmassy..


Extra Virgin Chef,
Haha... thanks

wendyywy @ Table for 2..... or more December 7, 2011 at 10:46 PM  

Happy Flour,
Thanks


lena,
I liked ur twist with the traditional yellow turmeric rice with curry chicken making it green rice and red seafood curry too. That's very creative I'd say. Thanks for ur compliments



New Baker,
1.Why not you use pistachio paste for the torte itself too? If you are going to use almonds or hazelnuts for the torte, why not change the cream too to something matching. In my personal opinion, it's a bit too much to have 2 nuts in a cake itself, the nut taste must be prominent, and in this case, which one do u want it to be?
2.you can use pistachio paste if you like because it's not available here, which is why I pulsed my own nuts. If you grind them when they are really cold, they turn oily. I always grind my nuts when they are warm. give them quick pulses. Need not be too fine. The pistachio powder for the filling is pulsed for a 2nd time with cornstarch added to prevent oiliness. If you are planning to use store bought pistachio paste, just use "maybe" 50gm of it and then cook the pastry cream to your preferred level of sweetness. Sugar can be added at any time to it, or when you whip your cream later.
3.The syrup only takes 5 minutes to make, or you an even make it few days ahead. The glaze can be easily melted with a quick zap in the microwave or over hot water bath. You can skip it if you like, but I'd say it's those aromatics that enhances the pistachio immensely, both cake and cream.

Actually you make almost all the components way ahead of time, and leave the cream to be done last, infact you can even do the cream the day before if you want, but just give it a quick stir before you frost it. Works just as good.




mary chey,
thanks. The colour scheme is determined by the event organizer ;)


Gert,
I hope u try this out and I hope everybody will like it ;)

3.

Pete December 8, 2011 at 1:16 AM  

Wah, nice Xmas garland for my door.....can eat some more when hungry....he he he!

Anonymous,  December 8, 2011 at 5:47 AM  

Gorgeous! Alas, why does the rest of the world have to have a different set of measurements from the US? Won't they all ever come around? ;o)

I know I can look them up, but for some reason it still never comes out right.

Mel December 8, 2011 at 9:36 AM  

Oh....this cake is so beautiful. I loves red and green.... festive mood.

Honey Bee Sweets December 8, 2011 at 11:08 AM  

Wah....almost too pretty to eat leh...almost, heehee! It's too bad my daughter is allergic to pistachio, else I will definitely try this out. Green tea maybe? But it loses it's nutty distinct texture and flavor ya?

wendyywy @ Table for 2..... or more December 8, 2011 at 11:34 AM  

Pete,
Haha, yawoh


Anon,
Oh why won't the Americans come to realise that weight measurements are the most precise and the most convenient way, I'm hoping for this day to come too. It will be right when you get a scale and start weighing. My 100gm will definitely be the same as your 100gm, but my 1 cup may not be the same as your 1 cup, and that's the problem.



Mel,
Haha... Wear red and green to work, kekeke.



Bee,
then if pistachio is removed from this cake, then, it is only the outlook of this cake that you will be replicating. The essence of it will be all lost because the whole cake is made with pistachio besides the fresh berries. Green tea will never make up for the "nuts". What about almonds? Then tint it green for the festive occasion?

My Asian Kitchen December 8, 2011 at 2:00 PM  

wow!! impressed wt your deco and presentation!! I bet this cake must taste heavenly delicious!!

Niksya December 8, 2011 at 3:26 PM  

Very beautiful idea for the design of the cake "Montebello". My applause! Photos are nice and I'm sure it was the most delicious treat!

wendyywy @ Table for 2..... or more December 8, 2011 at 6:16 PM  

My Asian Kitchen,
Thanks. It is very delicious!


Niksya,
I can't believe you dropped by! Thank you so so so much for the guidance you gave me via your recipe. It was indeed very very delicious.

Anonymous,  December 8, 2011 at 8:56 PM  

Hi Wendy,

Do you think I can bake the torte one day and chill it in the fridge, then do the rest of the components and assemble the following day?

Will the taste and texture of the torte be compromised?

Please advise. Thanks!

Regards,
EC

wendyywy @ Table for 2..... or more December 8, 2011 at 9:43 PM  

EC,
As long as you keep the torte well wrapped or covered, it will be fine.

Anonymous,  December 9, 2011 at 6:55 AM  

Hi Wendy,

Thanks for the prompt reply. Shall include this as 1 of the options for my X'mas leave bake.

Regards,
EC

Anonymous,  December 9, 2011 at 1:13 PM  

Hi Wendy,

I didn't know that I could use pistachio paste for the torte itself, as I thought must use fine gound nuts / powder for the torte. If I use paste, shall I use the same weight amount as your pistachio powder? I'm just not sure if the cake would still hold up as well as yours after baked? Thanks for your suggestion. By the way, did you use the 23cm tube pan? Thank you.

~New Baker

wendyywy @ Table for 2..... or more December 9, 2011 at 1:20 PM  

New Baker,
I cannot advise you on the amount to use for the torte, you will have to experiment it yourself as I have never seen nor use any pistachio paste before. The nuts in the torte is not as fine as the nuts in the cream.
Mine is a 25cm tube pan and the torte will shrink, it won't hold up.

Heera December 12, 2011 at 2:35 PM  

looks so beautifull. never tried @ home... but this is something i would like to make wow

babe_kl December 15, 2011 at 9:57 PM  

So pretty, just like Christmas wreath!

CL January 3, 2012 at 11:08 AM  

wow!!! absolutely beautiful.. I salute you for making such a beautiful cake. too pretty to eat it... have bookmarked it for next Christmas baking .. thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe...

Anonymous,  January 30, 2012 at 9:22 AM  

Hi Wendy,

I made the cake and it was a success. I actually let the inverted cake cool down for about 2 hours or more (coz I was busy preparing the rest of things and also lunch in between) and unmoulded it just before applying the basting syrup and pistachio cream. The cake texture was great. It was indeed very light, fluffy and airy, not dense at all. But I have quite a lot of the leftover pistachio cream...how should I store it? Can I put it in the freezer? If not, how long can it be stored in the fridge? I'll probably use it to make something during the next weekend or the weekend after. Once again thanks for sharing such a wonderful recipe :-)

~New Baker

wendyywy @ Table for 2..... or more January 30, 2012 at 10:44 AM  

New Baker,
thanks for the feedback.
U can use the pistachio cream to fill pears, like my devilled pears. It taste great this way.
If you freeze it, it's ice cream (same composition of ingredients anyway!) but it'll probably deflate if you thaw it. It can be kept chilled for a week, no problem, but that is if your cream is UHT cream not farm fresh cream. I think I kept mine for more than a week, hehehehehe.

Gulchathaii February 8, 2012 at 11:24 PM  

Your cakes look absolutely amazing, especially this one! I bet it's delicious! ♥

Audry,  December 15, 2014 at 1:27 PM  

Wendy, can i make and assemble everything 1day ahead and serve it the next day ? Will the frosting melt ? Taste wise, will it be compromise ? I plan to bake this for christmast gathering brunch. I love love love ur blog ! Whenever i feel down, and need to bake to cheer me up, ur blog is the one i always turn to and it always enlighten me reading all your post not just the recipe but the story behind it. Thanks a lot Wendy. Merry Christmas in advance for you and family. GBU.

WendyinKK December 15, 2014 at 4:55 PM  

Audry,
If it's kept chilled, it won't melt. Taste wise, it'll be just as good, but if the cake is made 24 hours ahead, I recommend, keep the cake covered in the fridge with an overturned plastic container
If it's less than 12 hours ahead, it'll be alright to just put the cake in the fridge as it is.

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