Chestnut Dessert Puree

posted by Southern 09-20-98 11:01 PM

Chestnut Dessert Puree

4 pounds chestnuts, large and heavy (no wormholes)
4 cups water
3 cups sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise


Halve the chestnuts with a heavy knife or cleaver. Place in a very large saucepan or skillet, with enough water to cover. Boil until shells can be easily removed (about 10 minutes).

Preheat oven to 350 F. Remove chestnuts from water, a few at a time, and peel off shells and husks. Place nuts in large heavy saucepan. Add water, sugar, and vanilla bean. Stir to mix in sugar. (If needed, add more water to ensure that liquid just covers the chestnuts.) Bake uncovered for 2 to 3 hours -- time will vary considerably, depending upon dryness of nuts. Stir every 30 minutes, adding water, if necessary, until nuts are very tender and syrup is very thick. Let chestnuts cool completely in syrup.

Puree chestnuts in a food processor, adding milk or cream if you want a thinner puree. Press entire mixture through the fine disk of a food mill. Divide puree among 1- or 2-cup freezer containers. Seal, date, and freeze. (This recipe is for an all-purpose chestnut dessert base, which may be served alone or combined with liquors, creams, custards, and the like to make more elaborate preparations.)

SOURCE: Helen Witty and Elizabeth Schneider Colchie, "Better than Storebought: Authoritative recipes for the foods
that most people never knew they could make at home" (NY: Harper & Row, 1979)

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