Chestnuts (Castagne) Desserts

Chestnuts (Castagne) Desserts

All across Europe chestnuts mean winter, street vendors on corners selling them hot off the coals and in Italy in particular, warm chestnut desserts.

Castagnaccio originates from Lucca where it’s made for the Sagra Volto Santo. This festival celebrates the Crucifix of the Cathedral of San Martino, which is carried through the streets on 13 September each year. The crucifix was discovered in Palestine 700 years ago and was retrieved by a bishop who was going to take it back to Naples. On his arrival back in Rome however, he was greeted by another bishop who told him to take it to Lucca because an angel had told him it was needed there. It seems the second bishop – who happened to be from Lucca – managed to convince the first bishop and the crucifix has been there ever since.

 

 

CASTAGNACCIO
4 cups chestnut flour

4 tbsp sugar

pinch of salt

4 tbsp olive oil

3 tbsp water breadcrumbs

1/4 cup pine nuts

1/4 cup raisins (soaked in warm water for 20 minutes, drained and squeezed dry)

1 tbsp rosemary leaves

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put the flour, sugar and pinch of salt in a bowl and combine. Add the water and olive oil in small amounts to produce a semi-liquid batter. Grease an eight inch cake pan and sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Pour in batter, tapping to level off and remove bubbles of air. Top with pine nuts, raisins, rosemary and drizzle with remaining oil. Bake for one hour. Remove from oven and serve with cream or ricotta cheese.

CHESTNUT PUDDING
500gm fresh chestnuts

1tsp vanilla extract

4 tbsp dark rum brown

100 gm sugar

250 ml thickened cream

BITTER CHOCOLATE SAUCE

100ml thickened cream

100 gms bitter chocolate pieces

With a sharp knife, slit the skin of the chestnuts and boil them for 20-30 minutes. Remove inner and outer skins and push flesh through a sieve while still hot. Add vanilla, rum and sugar to the puréed chestnuts. Mix well and chill. Beat cream until stiff peaks form. Add the chestnut mix and blend thoroughly. Put in the fridge for about an hour. In the meantime boil the cream for the chocolate sauce. Once boiled, remove from heat and add the chocolate pieces until melted and combined. Serve in individual dishes with the chocolate sauce poured on top.

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