Friday 4 January 2013

Chestnut Cream

This is the easiest possible seasonal dessert, but be warned - it is very sweet and very rich. I first encountered coupe mont blanc (creme de marron chantilly) at the now somewhat discredited restaurant Chartier, a 19th century dining hall in Paris, where the waiters are famously rude and you get to share a table with strangers.

Ingredients for Chestnut Cream.
Usually Chestnut Cream is made by the simple expedient of combining creme chantilly (sweetened whipped cream) and confiture de chataignes (sweetened chestnut paste), but I prefer something a little more sophisticated. It takes a couple more ingredients but cuts down on the fat content. It takes a few more minutes to prepare but even so, is still super quick to put together.

Combining the cream cheese and sweetened chestnut purée.
1 jar or can of sweetened chestnut purée
1 box of cream cheese
2 egg whites
3 tbsp sugar
A handful of marrons glacés (candied chestnut) bits (optional)

Add the marrons glacés bits.
  1. Tip the cream cheese into a bowl and beat until smooth.
  2. Stir in the sweetened chestnut purée and then the chestnut bits.
  3. Whip the egg whites until stiff, adding the sugar at the end.
  4. Fold the beaten egg whites into the cream cheese / chestnut mixture.
  5. Spoon into glasses and sprinkle with a few more chestnut bits.
Don't forget to save some chestnut bits to decorate...
Marrons glacés are considered a tremendous seasonal treat, with their distinctive mealy texture and caramelly sweetness. You can purchase them at great expense in fancy boxes like chocolates at Christmas time, or you can buy broken ones at slightly less expense, also packaged in fancy boxes. The best is if you can buy broken bits at half price from the post-Christmas excess confectionery shelves in the supermarket.




Tim said...

Susan, marrons glacés are quite easy to make yourself... you just need a tin or jar of vac packed marrons and some sugar to make a thick syrup. And some cooling/drying racks... or a sheet of that silicon paper that Ken and Walt use... excellent stuff.
I'll email you the recette!!

I'll now go and make the above scrummy looking stuff [I was saying to Pauline that we hadn't got anything except fruit for pud at the moment... where's the St. Moret?

Tim said...

And as the recette above uses the egg whites... I think some pancakes are in the pipeline, too!
And all this before breakfast...

GaynorB said...

Maybe Simon could make some marrons glacés for you to use. The ones he gave us were delicious.

Jean said...

Tim, could you email me the recette for marons glacés too? I never see them for sale over here and wouldn't know where to look.

Susan, in the absence of marrons glacés what else could I use? I thought about candied fruits or crystallised ginger but the flavour might overpower the cream.

Susan said...

Tim: we've done them ourselves before but never been totally happy with the results -- although Gaynor obvious liked them (thank you Gaynor!) -- I thought they were nice, but not glacé, more crystallised, and a bit too sweet.

Jean: I would leave them out, or add chopped boiled or roasted chestnuts (which are still fairly sweet...) You could try walnuts too -- I often make a variation of this using my liqueur de noix and walnuts.

chm said...

Susan, I'll try your recipe when I'm in Paris this coming Spring. In the meantime could you e-mail me the recipe for marrons glacés when you get it from Tim? I just love marrons glacés and the price would be astronomical in the States if you could find them.

With a good recipe you could enjoy marrons glacés all year round and not only at Xmas time.

anton said...

You've hit on one of my favorite desserts! For Thanksgiving, my (French) mother made a pound cake, sliced it into 3 layers and put chestnut cream between each layer and as the frosting. I was in heaven!

Your story also reminds me of having a mug of molten chocolate and an oversize mont blanc at Angelina's in Paris several years ago. Although it was all delicious, it was overkill. I was barely conscious as I teetered out! Oh boy!

Susan said...

chm: will do.

Anton: Great stories!

the fly in the web said...

I found the local variant of chestnuts on the market and kept some once cooked in the freezer. I'll try marrons glaces with them and look round to see if they are still in season to make some paste.

I liked was cheap and cheerful and the room was a museum piece.
It's not only places like that that buy stuff in...I used to clock the owner of a well known chateau restaurant in the car park of a branch of Picard well away from his locality...

Susan said...

Fly: Oh for a Picard close enough to shop at! I'm not surprised some of the chefs cheat with it -- and buying prepped stuff in bulk is becoming more and more prevalent in the run of the mill restaurants.

I liked Chartier too, as an experience, and for the room, as you say. I wouldn't bother going there again though.

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