Chestnuts and cranberries don’t just go with turkey – they’re great for a Christmas dessert! This lovely meringue concoction is loosely based on the Italian ‘monte bianco’.
- 40-50 chestnuts
- 2tbsp icing sugar
- 500ml double cream
- 80g caster sugar
- 150-200g cooked meringue
- For the cranberry sauce
- 200g fresh cranberries
- 90g sugar
- 1 small cinnamon stick
- Juice of 1 orange
Preheat the oven to 200ºC/gas mark 6. Make an incision in the top of each chestnut with a small sharp knife and place them on a baking tray. Bake in the oven for about 20 mins, then remove and leave to cool.
Meanwhile for the sauce, put the cranberries, sugar and cinnamon into a heavy-based saucepan with the orange juice. Stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved, then simmer gently for about 20-25 mins until the cranberries have softened. Discard the cinnamon. Taste the sauce for sweetness and add a little more sugar if necessary. Leave to cool.
Peel the chestnuts, removing as much of the brown skin as you possibly can. Place the nuts on a foil-lined baking tray and dust with the icing sugar. Bake in the oven for about 20 mins, turning the chestnuts every so often. remove and set aside to cool.
Whip the cream and caster sugar together in a bowl until very thick, using and electric whisk if you wish.
To assemble, break the meringue into pieces and fold into the cream with about two-thirds of the chestnuts. Pile onto the centre of individual serving plates. Scatter the remaining chestnuts on top and spoon the rest of the cranberry sauce over. Serve at once.
Top tip for making Mark Hix’s Christmas mess
You don't need to go to the trouble of making fresh meringues unless you really want to, there are plenty of good ready-made meringues on the market that are suitable for this dish.