During the fall and winter months it is very easy to get fresh chestnuts in the stores. Chestnuts are absolutely delicious when roasted, candied or puréed into a paste. Chestnut paste can be used in countless ways and is easily prepared at home or in a professional setting. In well-stocked markets, canned chestnut paste is available but oftentimes tends to be overly sweet, making it useless for many preparations. Therefore, I like to make my own chestnut paste.
Chestnut paste is delicious on gelato, sandwiched between thin cookies or used in chocolates as a filling. The paste looks amazing when passed thru a garlic press, gently shaped into a sphere and placed on a tempered chocolate square. If you do not like to fuss with making your own chocolate squares, you can purchase premade chocolate cups.
Getting it all together!
Purchase even-sized chestnuts with shiny dark skins. I like to get at least about 2 lb 8 oz (1140g). Smaller amounts always make it harder to get the chestnuts pureed smoothly in a food processor. Any extra chestnut paste can be easily frozen and used at a later time. When peeling the chestnuts, it helps to have latex or vinyl gloves to protect your hands from the fresh boiled chestnuts.
Cold chestnut puree is delicious and makes beautiful petit fours. The paste can be used as it is or mixed with a small amount of butter cream. If desired the paste can slightly be conditioned using simple syrup. A small amount of chestnut liquor can be added. Press the paste thru a garlic press and shape onto a chocolate square or Gerbet macaroon. Decorate as desired.
|6 Cups||(2 lb 8 oz)||Chestnuts||1140 g|
|2 Cups||(1 lb)||Extra fine granulated sugar||480 g|
|1 Cup||(8 oz)||Water||240 g|
|2 teaspoon||(2 tsp)||Vanilla bean paste or vanilla||10 g|
- Using a knife, cut a X into the flat side of the chestnuts. It is best to boil the chestnuts in smaller batches as they will peel much better when being removed fresh out of hot water.
- Place part of the chestnuts in a non-reactive pot and cover the nuts completely in water. Bring to a boil
- Boil for 7-8 minutes and remove using a slotted spoon. Peel away the outer skin and any brown skin on the chestnuts. Repeat until all the nuts are peeled.
- Place the peeled chestnuts in fresh water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer and cook for 15 minutes. The chestnuts should feel “al dente” at this stage.
- Drain and place the chestnuts in a food processor.
- Place the sugar in a small saucepan and add 1 cup (8 oz or 240 gram) of water; stir to a boil. Once boiling brush away any sugar crystals stuck to the side of the pan with a clean brush dipped in water. Any additional water added during this process has no effect on the final outcome.
- Cook the sugar syrup WITHOUT stirring to 240°F (116°C). Remove from heat and mix in the chestnut mixture. Stir for 5 minutes on medium heat. Add the vanilla and combine well.
- Store in a well-sealed container in the refrigerator or freezer.