I have never eaten a Chestnut in my life. Ironically, growing up in Queens, this was something you could forage readily in the fall, although as a kid I rather preferred kicking them down the road or trying to crush them underfoot.
I was, admittedly, skeptical of a this being so heavy on chestnuts. Aside from Starbucks’ latest holiday drink with chestnut flavoring (it’s delicious!) I wasn’t sure what to make of it. Would they be soft? Would they have a similar texture to other nuts? Would they be sweet?
As a side note, I enjoy making tarts because it is a little work here, and a little work there, and by the time it all comes together you look like a kitchen genius. Which is pretty much how this all worked out.
I will say that this is an amazing dessert. With the coffee ice cream, and the Vanilla Chestnut Syrup (made from a simple syrup reduced with vanilla, and the flavoring from the chestnuts as they candied in the mixture), and the chestnuts in the velvetty chocolate tart, this dessert winds up being amazingly balanced. Could not get enough of this, and perfect for this time of the year. And the syrup. That syrup! It is the world. Do this. The whole way:
Chestnuts are not overly nut-crunchy, which gives them the edge over other nuts… if that makes any sense at all. Not soft, but not the typical nut texture, and more similar to hazelnuts in flavor. I left these whole, but doing it again I would cut them in half just to make them easier to deal with when eating since they really don’t get softer in the cooking. I don’t know why I thought they would… they are nuts, but somehow I thought they would.
Found the recipe on wsj.com, and it looks to have been adapted from the book… to convert to cups rather than grams, for those of you that don’t have the book (though really… get it… so many great things in there). Enjoy!