Winter time is tough for a variety of reasons, but especially when it comes to produce withdrawal. For those of us who try to eat as close to seasonally as possible, it means a whole of lot of root vegetables and preserves.
This afternoon, as I was about to open an umpteenth jar of jam to get my sweet fix, I was reminded of a Winter season French dessert which also comes in a jar, but is actually made with something that grows during these cold seemingly endless Winter months: Crème de Marron, literally Cream of Chestnut.
This may sound like just another boring soup recipe, but is actually a simple, delicious and incredibly easy to store (lasts for a year!) French dessert.
I have seen chestnuts offered during the holiday season in the States, but never really any other time. In France, they are pretty much ubiquitous, roasted as street food, candied for an after school snack, ground as a base for soup, chopped into pâtés and more!
Here is a perfect way to introduce marrons into your cooking repertoire. I give you the simplest, most delicious marron recipe ever: Crème de Marron façon Marmiton.
- 2 Kg of chestnuts (roughly 4 1/2 lbs)
- 1 1/2 Kg of sugar (just under 3 1/2 lbs)
- 2 glasses of water
- 1 vanilla bean
Make a round incision at the top of each chestnut. Place in pot. Cover in cold water. Bring to a boil and let it cook for a few minutes.
Remove chestnuts from water a few at a time and peel off shell, then place chestnuts in 1/2 litre of warm water over medium flame. Cook for a few minutes, until the chestnuts can be smushed with a fork.
Drain the chestnuts then pulse in food processor until quite fine. Keep warm.
Make "petit boulé" simple syrup. This means that as the water and sugar begin to boil, you simply dip a hand held sieve in the liquid, pull it out, and blow, forming big bubbles in the syrup. Add the warm chestnut puree, then the vanilla.
Warm gently and keep stirring. Let boil for about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove vanilla bean.
Now scoop the unctuous cream into jars, cover and turn upside down. The cream will store for up to a year!
Try it on fresh cheese, ice cream or on its own!