Being French, I have great childhood memories involving chestnuts: we used to buy them roasted in the winder from street vendors, and chestnut purée (the traditional Clément Faugier one, of course) was a kitchen staple. In the UK, chestnuts are easily found, and are usually ripe in September/October. If you go foraging, you will often find conkers that are not edible (they can even be poisonous) so it is important to learn how to differenciate them from delicious chestnuts! Conkers grow on horse chestnut trees and have a spiky shells. They have a gorgeous brown colour and are round, whereas chestnuts have a pointy end and a slightly lighter colour. Their shells are and they grow on sweet chestnut trees.
Chesnut purée recipe
Chestnut purée is relatively easy; my recipe is based on 500g of chestnuts. The first step is to cook them: I find it easier to boil them, so I just incise them and leave them in boiling water for 30 min or until tender. Then, mash them to desired consistency with a fork or in the food processor. At this stage, I usually add a few tablespoons of warm water. Shop-bought chestnut purée is very smooth, but I prefer mine to have more texture. I then add:
+ 200g of sugar
+ a teaspoon of vanilla essence or vanilla bean
Tada! It’s done! Perfect for sweetening plain yoghurt. Chestnut purée will keep a few months in the fridge in a closed jar (but it is usually eaten up before then :-)).
Chocolate and Chestnut Purée fondant
This has to be one of my favourite recipes (like anything involving chocolate really). It’s a great party dessert, and is best served with a ladle of crème anglaise.
You will need:
+ 100g of black chocolate
+ 100g of butter
+ 250g of chestnut purée
+ 3 eggs
Heat the chocolate and butter in a bain-marie until fully melted.
Take off the fire and add the chestnut purée. Mix well. Separate the egg whites from the yolk and incorporate the yolks to the mix. Beat the whites until stiff and slowly add.
Heat in the oven for 30 mins at 180°C (gas mark 4).
Leave to cool and sprinkle with chocolate powder.