Category Archives: desserts

Chestnut fever

Marroni from Iperal
Large marroni for 5,99€/kilo

We’ve had them oven-roasted, boiled, turned into puree, cooked in rice (kurigohan style), and I think I’ll try dipping some in chocolate tonight. This was a terrific year for chestnuts, but even though the harvest has ended in our neighborhood, supermarkets will likely have them stocked for at least another few weeks.

Chestnut sizes

I bought 13 of the large marroni variety. Enormous and beautiful, yhey’re quite impressive next to the chestnuts I collect here. Yet every single time, no matter where I get them from, most turn out rotten inside and not usable at all.

Chestnut as big as doxie's paw

One of the marroni next to the dachshund’s paw!

Peeled marroni

But as I’ve said, you don’t always get what you expect. Marroni are easier to peel, yet out of the thirteen, 2 turned out perfect with another 2 partially blemished. You can see a couple of rejects in the container.

Prep for Mont Blanc dessert

Prepping for a Mont Blanc dessert: homemade chestnut puree, freshly whipped cream, finely chopped candied chestnuts. I’ll add my non-recipe for the puree at the end.

I take shortcuts wherever necessary, so store-purchased sponge cake layers it is!

Building Mont Blanc mini cakes

3-inch sponge cake cut-outs filled with a whipped cream/chopped chestnut mixture. Half of a boiled chestnut on top, dollop of whipped cream, and silly chestnut string to finish. Sweet bliss.

To make the puree: place 2 heaping cups of unpeeled chestnuts in a large pot of water, bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Drain, cut chestnuts in half, squeeze/scoop out the flesh into a clean pot. If cooked well enough, the flesh will be crumbly.

Cover the cooked chestnuts with milk and bring to a simmer; continue to cook for about 20 minutes then sweeten to taste (taste the milk) with granulated or brown sugar.

Strain mixture (you can save the delicious milk for breakfast granola) and scoop into the container of an immersion blender. Blend until smooth, adding a tiny amount of milk if it is too stiff (you want a consistency that will pipe easily but not be too runny). Press the puree through a fine mesh sieve; store and refrigerate in an airtight container. Will keep for up to 3 days.

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Happy National Dessert Day

Mont Blanc for National Dessert Day
Channeling an aurora borealis with Mont Blanc on mini chestnutcream-filled sponge cake layers

The windfall of chestnuts this year has resulted in a swarm of visitors scrambling to collect the shiny, dark brown morsels from the forest floor. We’ve had more than our fair share but I keep gathering them since the branches of our neighbor’s young castagno overhangs our vegetable garden. The owner is around only during summer and it seems such a waste to see so many just laying there on his side of the fence, but those that drop on our property get scooped up lickety split.

I make a Mont Blanc dessert in some shape or form every year so this was perfect timing for the October 14th food holiday. The main component is the chestnut puree (the most troublesome part in my opinion), so I’ll elaborate with photos of this chestnut cream layered mini cake in a following post.

I guess I’m on a ricotta roll…

Crostata with coffee and sambuca-flavored ricotta
Crostata with ricotta, coffee, and Sambuca

A couple of days after I vowed to brave the heat of the kitchen and bake like nobody’s business, the day temps dropped just enough to make life bearable and rainclouds arrived to drench our sun-parched surroundings. I used the broiler element, made pizza, bread, baked a mussel and rice casserole, and lastly, Casatella Terracinese, another crostata from one of my favorite blogs on Italian cuisine – Polenta e Baccala. This one mentions the use of sheep’s milk ricotta but I used the regular type, undrained, and flavored it with the coffee, cocoa powder, cinnamon and Sambuca called for in the recipe. I used my own sweet pie dough pastry as I prefer less sugar.

If you have time, do take a look and read more about this dessert from southern Italy. It is so good that it does not last long in our house.