Last Christmas eve, we had a rather special cake that is quite popular here in Japan. The name is “Mont Blanc,” pronounced as “Monburan” in Japanese. I’ve never really thought about what the name means, except that it sounds French. We bought the cake from La Cote d’ Azure, one the most popular bakeries here in Tsukuba.
What is Mont Blanc? I tried looking it up in Google, but couldn’t find any comprehensive information about the cake. When I tried searching for related images, I found out that most of the photos belonged to Japanese sites. So I tried searching using “ãƒ¢ãƒ³ãƒ–ãƒ©ãƒ³ ã‚±ãƒ¼ã‚ (Monburanã€€Ke-ki)” instead. Here’s what I got from Wikipedia, Japanese edition (By the way, if the text below looks trashy, change the encoding of your browser to Unicode (UTF-8). There are Japanese characters below and might not be displayed properly.):
ãƒ¢ãƒ³ãƒ–ãƒ©ãƒ³ã¨ã¯ã€æ —ã‚’ãµã‚“ã ã‚“ã«ä½¿ã£ãŸã‚±ãƒ¼ã‚ã§ã‚ã‚‹ã€‚å±±ã®å½¢ã«ä¼¼ã›ã¦ä½œã£ãŸã“ã¨ã‹ã‚‰ã“ã†å‘¼ã°ã‚Œã‚‹ã€‚åå‰ã®ç”±æ¥ã¯ã€ã‚¢ãƒ«ãƒ—ã‚¹ã®ãƒ¢ãƒ³ãƒ–ãƒ©ãƒ³ã§ã‚ã‚Šã€ãƒ•ãƒ©ãƒ³ã‚¹èªžã§ç™½ã„å±±ã‚’æ„å‘³ã™ã‚‹ã€‚ãƒ•ãƒ©ãƒ³ã‚¹èªžã§ã¯ã‚±ãƒ¼ã‚ã¯ ã€ŒMont Blanc aux marronsã€ ã¨å‘¼ã°ã‚Œã‚‹ã€‚å°šã€ä¸Šã«é™ã‚Šã‹ã‘ã‚‰ã‚Œã‚‹ç™½ã„ç²‰ç ‚ç³–ã¯é›ªã‚’è¡¨ã—ã¦ã„ã‚‹ã€‚å±±åã¨åŒæ§˜ã«ã‚¤ã‚¿ãƒªã‚¢ã§ã¯ãƒ¢ãƒ³ãƒ†ãƒ»ãƒ“ã‚¢ãƒ³ã‚³ã¨å‘¼ã°ã‚Œã‚‹ã€‚
å…¸åž‹çš„ã«ã¯ã€ã‚«ãƒƒãƒ—ã‚±ãƒ¼ã‚åž‹ã®ã‚¹ãƒãƒ³ã‚¸ç”Ÿåœ°ã‚„ãƒ¡ãƒ¬ãƒ³ã‚²ã€ã‚¿ãƒ«ãƒˆç”Ÿåœ°ãªã©ã§ä½œã£ãŸåœŸå°ã®ä¸Šã«ç”Ÿã‚¯ãƒªãƒ¼ãƒ ã‚’ãƒ›ã‚¤ãƒƒãƒ—ã—ã€ãã‚Œã‚’èžºæ—‹çŠ¶ã«åŒ…ã‚€ã‚ˆã†ã«ã€ç´°ã„éººçŠ¶ã«ã—ãŸæ —ã®ã‚¯ãƒªãƒ¼ãƒ ã‚’ã‚ã—ã‚‰ã†ã€‚ãã®ä¸Šã«åŠåˆ†ã«åˆ‡ã£ãŸç”˜éœ²ç…®ã®æ —ãŒä¸€ç‰‡è¼‰ã›ã‚‰ã‚Œã‚‹ã€‚å½¢çŠ¶ã‚„å¤§ãã•ã€åœŸå°ã¨ãªã‚‹ç”Ÿåœ°éƒ¨åˆ†ã«ã¯æ§˜ã€…ãªãƒãƒªã‚¨ãƒ¼ã‚·ãƒ§ãƒ³ãŒã‚ã‚‹ãŒã€æ —ã‚’ç”¨ã„ãŸã‚¯ãƒªãƒ¼ãƒ ï¼ˆã¾ãŸã¯ãã‚Œã«å‘³ã‚’ä¼¼ã›ãŸã‚‚ã®ï¼‰ã‚’éººçŠ¶ã«ã—ãŸã‚‚ã®ã‚’ã‚ã—ã‚‰ã†ã‚‚ã®ãŒå¤šãã®ã‚‚ã®ã«å…±é€šã™ã‚‹ã€‚
Translated (ok, this is not a perfect translation, but this is the best I can come up with):
Mont Blanc is a cake made using a lavish amount of chestnut. This cake is called this way because it imitates the appearance or shape of a mountain. The origin of the name comes from a mountain in the Alps, called Mont Blanc, which in French means “white mountain.” In French this cake is called “Mont Blanc aux marrons.” Furthermore, the white powdered sugar sprinkled on top represents the snow (found on top of the mountain). Similarly, in Italy, this is called “Monte Bianco.”
Typically, this cake is made of cupcake-shaped sponge cake, merengue, tart, etc. as crust, on top of which whipped cream is added, then dressed with cream made of chestnut made into slender noodle-like shapes, which is further arranged to form a spiral shape (to give it a mountain-like form). On top of this, slices of halved candied chestnuts are placed. There are many variations on the shape, size, and base which forms the crust, but the most common arrangement uses the noodle-shaped cream made of chestnut (or similar flavors).
What is the appropriate word for “making into noodles”? The word escapes me. What is the verb used for it? Noodle-ify? Shucks, my English is sooo rusty.
My guess is that this cake is popular in Japan because of how the chestnut cream topping resembles the usual “ramen” or noodle. I’ve tried different versions of the Mont Blanc, but so far the yummiest is the one we had last Christmas. Of course I’d be fooling myself if I say that eating it would not add inches to my already-growing waistline. But hey, this is one of life’s little guilty pleasures. Nothing that a little exercise won’t cure.