In France, particularly during the holidays, chestnuts are everywhere. We have found chestnut and rice crackers, chestnut cookies and even roasted chestnuts at the Marché de Nöel.
While shopping in a grocery store in France we found shelves overflowing with little cans of sweetened chestnut puree, and although we had no idea how it was used, but we brought some of the iconic little cans home anyway. A Google search on the subject unearthed three recipes by Nigella Lawson. I'll admit to a bit of a girl crush: a dark-haired beauty with a melodious British accent, and a goddess in the kitchen? I've been a fan of her show on the Food Network for years.
Each of these recipes have a common element of chestnut paste, with the addition of dark rum and either double cream, dark chocolate, or both. Our new problem became deciding which recipe to try first. We did the only sane thing under the circumstances, and made all three.
All three recipes are an absolute breeze to make. Perfect for our relaxed French lifestyle. We recommend mixing one up and putting it in to chill while you do likewise with a ruby glass of wine.
Some things of note:
We served all three together with a bit of unsweetened whipped cream and some banana slices. The fruit and whip helped to mellow the richness of triple chestnut desserts. Each of us had a different favorite of the mix, and there are a few things we would do differently.
The Chocolate Chestnut Refrigerator Cake had a lovely rich dark chocolate flavor and smooth texture. The texture was improved with a few minutes out of the fridge after slicing to serve. The recipe recommends serving with creme fraiche (as shown in the picture in this post) and that is wonderful, but I am looking forward to trying this with fresh berries and whipped cream, or with a blood orange sauce. Valerie was inspired by this recipe and wants to try it layered for something even more sophisticated.
No-Churn Chestnut Ice Cream had a wonderful flavor, with hints of rum. Even though I added an extra tablespoon of rum, It turned out stiff. We ended up leaving it in the freezer for more like 24 hours, rather than the required 12, so in the future I would make it closer to 12 before serving. It would be delicious on warm cinnamon apples, I think, or a syrupy spiced peach pie.
I am excited to try the Chestnut Chocolate Pots again, because I sort of messed them up this time. I don't think I heated the milk and double cream hot enough (just short of boiling in the recipe) and the overall result was a pudding pot that didn't set properly. Scott preferred the flavor of this over the other two desserts and I just love a good thick pudding, so I will try this again in hopes that practice will make perfect. I'd love to serve this in the beautiful glazed terra cotta pots we've been collecting sold full of yogurt here in France.
So give these a try, singly or all three, and be sure to come back and let us know how it goes!