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.
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
Recipe source: Wendyywy
98gm yolks ( from 6 medium eggs, Grade C)
230gm powdered pistachios,
1 drop apple green food colouring
190gm egg whites ( from 6 medium eggs, Grade C)
½ tsp cream of tartar
300gm or more strawberry halves (keep chilled all the time)
Chopped pistachios (the specially selected green ones)
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.
Recipe source: Wendyywy
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.
Recipe created by: Wendyywy
2 egg yolks
100gm whipping cream
70gm powdered pistachios
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)
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
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)
Creative Christmas Bakes (December 2011)
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