It’s as easy as 1-2-3, or to be more precise 3-2-1. It’s all MATH, 3 PARTS prepared (boiled & peeled) CHESTNUTS (from a jar or a can) + 2 PARTS SUGAR + 1 PART WATER or 1 PART CHESTNUTS + 1 PART CHESTNUT SYRUP (instead of the sugar & water) …
I’ve decided to take it easier this year by using canned or jarred chestnuts that are prepared and pre-peeled, since peeling after boiling is definitely the most time-consuming cooking task I’ve ever performed and even though the canned chestnuts lack the firmness of fresh ones, it’s not needed at all in this year’s recipe. It’s a CREAM and SPREAD, right !?
I did have access to fresh chestnuts this year but I just wanted to slit the tough outer skins or casings and roast the fresh chestnuts in the oven and eat them straight out of their skins, still warm and tender with no fussy preparation, just as a weekend snack !
Back to the CHESTNUT CREAM.
I still had jars of the chestnut-flavored sugar syrup that were left over from last year, after preparing (from scratch) the 7-day candied chestnuts for the winter festivities (see the recipe here). All I had to do was to combine the prepared, canned and chopped chestnuts and the chestnut syrup in equal weights, heat everything up, let it simmer and reduce and then purée or blend, either partly, a bit more or absolutely completely to obtain 3 consistencies: CHUNKY, COARSE & SMOOTH.
I’m giving you the full recipe here, from scratch, because you probably don’t have my luck nor any chestnut syrup lying around. This is my ideal ratio for something that will be sufficiently sweet for the winter holiday preparations, with a final composition equal to 50% chestnuts and 50% sugar. Using chestnut syrup makes everything easier and tastier but if you don’t have any, that’s okay. Maybe next time.
The plain sugar syrup, a thick version or ‘rich syrup’, as it’s often referred to, is made up of 2 parts sugar and 1 part water, in weight as well as in volume, which works well for this recipe, and starts off being as thick but as runny as maple syrup.
The consistency of the final chestnut cream is up to you, whether you prefer it ultra-smooth or coarser. I find it’s easier to separate the prepared mixture in 2 parts, leave half as is and purée or blend the other half until ultra smooth and finally to create 3 versions, 1 chunky version with 1/3 of the total mixture, an ultra-smooth version with another 1/3 and finally a 3rd version that is half & half of each.
These different consistencies are optional but having all 3 may inspire you to create something new (and if not, I’ve got a new chestnut recipe that I’ll share with you soon enough anyways).
*a little cultural note : in France, CHATAÎGNES and MARRONS are the same thing and are both sweet chestnuts but because of France’s agricultural past, chataîgnes were considered to be food for domestic farm animals (like corn was) so in order to differentiate and somewhat ‘elevate’ the lowly “chatâigne” from animal fodder to dignified & suitable food for humans, they started calling them “marrons”, whether boiled, roasted, or candied … :)