Chestnuts! From pancakes & ice-cream to macarons…

This weekend we took a stroll along the Seine en famille.  It was still pretty chilly but we needed a walk, some quality time together and a wee dose of Paris.  One of the typical scenes in this cold weather is the sellers of roasted chestnuts by the side of the road and at the exits of some popular metro stations.

Roasted Chestnuts Paris

Selling roasted chestnuts in Paris

As the glacial wind threatens to whisk any colour out of your cheeks, the welcoming aromas of roasted chestnuts waft around the metro stairs as you surface to street level.  My girls were just so excited.  “Mummy, pleeeease can we have a poke of roasted chestnuts?  You’re such an angel, the best Mum in the world…“

Yeh, right.  At 5 euros a poke they needed to enjoy them ;-)   Am I getting cynical or what?  In any case, it’s true that there’s no other creamy, rich taste than roasted chesnuts.  Full of flavour, they’re ideal for adding to the traditional poultry stuffings we have in the UK and US.

roasted chestnuts

What? 5 euros for a poke?

In France it’s not used as a stuffing as such but either served roasted with vegetables or as a purée alongside poultry.  It’s funny:  we live in Le Pecq, outside Paris, where Alexandre Dumas (Three Musketeers fame) built his extravagant Château de Monte Cristo.  His other passion – or Violon d’Ingres - was cooking and opulent entertaining. In the Château’s museum we see examples from his “Grande Dictionnaire de Cuisine” which mentions puréed chestnuts served with pork sausages.  We often forget, though, that chestnuts are just as good in desserts for that something un peu différent.

I enjoyed reading BraveTart’s latest blog entry (loved it: Mont blog!)  on the Mont Blanc pastry.  With such a magnificent pâtisserie based on a mountain of chestnut threads, it’s surprising that the chestnut isn’t yet that popular as a dessert in the US, yet.

Clement Faugier

Here in France, we’re lucky that the chestnut comes in different forms for baking.  Clément Faugier from the Ardèche makes a wicked candied chestnut (marron glacé) and vanilla spread.  Typically, we use it for dolloping on fromage blanc to give it a sticky-toffee-creamy-nutty flavour, which is so handy when we don’t often have time to even THINK of making dessert, especially when hungry children are concerned… and it’s a healthy sweet, full of calcium.

chestnut puree and fromage blanc

Chestnut paste with fromage blanc

I often throw a 100g tin when making a typical 500ml batch of ice-cream (see p.125 of book for recipe).  I’m an ice-cream lover: not just because it’s often handy to have a quick gourmet dessert when needed, but it also uses up many egg yolks.  That way I’m a happy bunny with plenty of whites stocked up for making macarons. ;-)

chestnut ice-cream

Homemade chestnut ice-cream

Who could resist a melting scoop of chestnut ice-cream on warm crêpes or pancakes?  We certainly have plenty of excuses to make them following US pancake week and in anticipation of next week’s Mardi Gras or Shrove Tuesday.  Who doesn’t like a good pancake now and again?  Here we serve Crêpes.  In Scotland we also have Scotch Pancakes.  As my husband is from Corsica, where chestnut flour is one of the basic elements in baking, I love using some chestnut flour we brought back from his mountain village last summer.

Corsican Chestnut Flour

Corsican Chestnut Flour

Corsican chestnut flour is pretty strong and so a little goes a long way.  As chestnuts are already quite powdery in nature, the flour is uniquely intense. Typically we use it to make a rustic Corsican Chestnut Cake (my mother-in-law serves it at breakfast but being Scottish I do prefer this at goûter time with a pot of tea.  Well, nobody’s perfect :-) )  I do, however, love adding a little chestnut flour to  Scotch Pancakes for a New Alliance.  Here’s my recipe for Scottish-Corsican Chestnut Pancakes.

You can just whip them up in next to no time and serve warm with plenty of honey (Scottish Heather Honey or Corsican honey, so no favouritism!) Or try drizzled with warmed Whisky marmalade: chestnut and bitter orange go so well together.  I’m not going to influence you but the Corsicans also have a wonderful Chestnut liqueur, so I love to add a tablespoon to pancakes, muffins, brownies, cannelés, macarons, or just in a glass on its own… Oh and there’s the Corsican beer, Pietra:  it’s brewed with chestnuts and has a unique smoky taste.

Scotch Pancakes

Scotch Pancakes Corsican Style

How could I finish off without even talking about a macaron or two? As you can understand, I’m not allowed to share my macaron recipes with you, as the rights belong to Waverley Books.  C’est normal. You’ll just have to buy the book! ;-)   But I can leave you with a few photos now and again…  Here are some Chestnut macarons.  They are delicious plain (using the Chestnut paste from the Ardèche and I managed to find a chestnut aroma, too) but adding a few candied orange bits in the filling can also add that extra je ne sais quoi

chestnut macarons

Chestnut macarons

Before you go, I’m thrilled to say that Manuela from Manu’s Menu has honoured Le Blog with an award.  Gosh, there are times when it feels you’re posting out to a vast empty void so this Lovely Blog Award makes it feel like I’m doing something ok.  Grazie Mille, Manu!  Thanks also for helping me out with the image (she’s not just clever in the kitchen but a whizz on the internet, too.)  Check out her step-by-step mouthwatering recipes on her blog and you’ll become master in the art of Italian cooking, prestissimo!

Bonne semaine!

Update (January 2012): Recipe now posted for Sweet Chestnut Ice Cream

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24 Responses to Chestnuts! From pancakes & ice-cream to macarons…

  1. Natalie February 15, 2012 at 16:37 #

    WOW! The blog post title had me intrigued and so happy I clicked on it! I love chestnuts and the pancakes and macaroons look beyond amazing! You are the macaroon queen!

  2. parisbreakfast January 22, 2012 at 14:59 #

    How can i eat oatmeal after reading this…
    I am ruined :(
    and drooling.

  3. Pudding Pie Lane April 1, 2011 at 09:07 #

    Sigh… I am so jealous. Chestnut puree is really expensive (especially for me being a student) but you’ve made some fantastic macaroons. I hope I can make these one day too!

  4. MarmandeintheKitchen March 11, 2011 at 01:06 #

    I can imagine the smell of roasting chestnuts now – it reminds me of when I was in Paris on study abroad. The chestnut macarons look amazing!

  5. Lisa McDonnell March 10, 2011 at 00:00 #

    Just stopped by to see what Jill in Paris was up to…. chestnut macaroons, wow you certainly did not disappoint! And thank you for taking us on a stroll down the Seine…. I needed that!

  6. Magic of Spice March 9, 2011 at 00:22 #

    I adore roasted chestnuts…everything looks amazing!
    And congratulations on your award :)

  7. Jean March 8, 2011 at 16:08 #

    I love the smell of roasting chestnuts but I enjoy eating them much more. I wish I had access to the spread and the Corsican products you mentioned. Ah, well, al the more reason for a return trip! I would love to have a taste of that chestnut ice cream, the pancakes and of course, the macarons!

  8. Sprinkled With Flour March 7, 2011 at 16:48 #

    I’ve never tried chestnuts, but I’ve always been curious about them. This recipe is so unique and sounds utterly delicious!

  9. Laura March 7, 2011 at 06:21 #

    Do you know I’ve never eaten a chestnut? And now that fact is depressing me!

  10. Ivy March 6, 2011 at 19:50 #

    I love chestnuts but they seem to be quite expensive in Paris. In Greece we buy roasted chestnuts 2 Euros for 8 pieces.

  11. Tiffany March 6, 2011 at 03:37 #

    I’m literally salivating! Those roasted chestnuts (and the ice cram and the macarons!) looked amazing!!!

  12. Manu March 5, 2011 at 22:48 #

    Mmmm chestnuts!!!! They remind me of my childhood… in Milan they are sold in winter in small carts on the streets… and there too they are so EXPENSIVE! I love them though and they are a fantastic ingredient for sweets. I am lucky enough to find them here too (even though they are obviously in season when it is autumn here… which makes it sound a bit funny… not used to have chestnuts in April… hehehe). I also find the Crème de Marrons de l’Ardèche, which I LOVE. And I have a packet of marrons glacés that my parents brought from Italy for Christmas… YUM. One of my favourite dessert is Mont Blanc… The best for me is the one I used to eat at Angelina’s in Paris together with a cup of their thick and rich hot chocolate… MMMMM HUNGRY!!!
    Ohhh, btw… giving you the award for my pleasure, I love your blog and you know it! :-)

  13. Kate @ Diethood.com March 5, 2011 at 16:28 #

    I love chestnuts! Around here they are only available in December and January…and they cost an arm and a leg. :) I’ve never seen chestnut flour, though…something that I should look into!
    Macarons look amazing, as always! I have given your macs a few tries, but I will post a recipe as soon as a batch comes out looking perfect. And by perfect I mean, nice and round, and without the filling spilling over from the sides. :-) )

  14. denise @ bread expectations March 5, 2011 at 04:48 #

    Hot chestnuts fresh from the roaster are such a treat, especially at cooler times of the year! I’ve never come across chestnut flour, but I’d love to try baking with it, especially with yeast. The very idea of chestnut ice cream and pancakes is wildly appealing and chestnut macarons with orange, I certainly wouldn’t pass up!

    Btw, congrats on the lovely award :)

  15. thoma March 4, 2011 at 17:46 #

    jill you’re adorable…you’ve a quirky sense of humour or maybe to add in your fave word, wicked!!
    we’ve our mothers in law featuring in our posts, right?? ahhhh
    read the whole thing and loved the chestnut part. i’ve never tasted one. needn’t say i would love to…and macarons…out of curioisty…have your kids told you any time …”not another macaron, mommy?” i read such in a book.

    • Jill March 4, 2011 at 20:06 #

      Hehee. Loved the comment on YOUR blog about women not liking the men being at home. To be honest, don’t think it’s just Malayalee women! What do they say? Can’t live with them or without?
      To answer your question: feel guilty but my kids don’t get that many macarons (always for others). What they DO get tired of is me talking about them. I don’t blame them. I’m getting fed up myself! Thanks for you lovely comments. Means a lot. Jx

  16. Olivia March 4, 2011 at 11:57 #

    I love macaroons and am on a mission this year to master the technique. I fancy purple ones for Easter
    x

  17. 5 Star Foodie March 4, 2011 at 02:00 #

    Wow, chestnut ice cream over pancakes sounds amazing! And so do the chestnut macaroons!

  18. All That I'm Eating March 3, 2011 at 21:38 #

    I seem to have missed a trick in Paris, I never saw a single chestnut. I really need to make some macaroons soon, I’ve never tried. Thanks for the tip about using up the yolks in ice cream!

  19. Pat Green March 3, 2011 at 17:40 #

    I like the sound of your macarons with chestnut and orange. Can you tell us where you get your aroma from? I have your book and live in France but too far from Paris so do most of my shopping through the internet. As I have said before brilliant book and recepies.

    • Jill March 3, 2011 at 17:50 #

      Hi Pat,
      Of course I know you – recognise you through FB and your lovely comments! I also do internet shopping and get some aromas from meilleurduchef.com
      They’re great. J

  20. Angie's Recipes March 3, 2011 at 16:36 #

    I love them roasted! Floury, smooth, sweet and tasty!

  21. Michele AKA 5am Foodie March 3, 2011 at 13:33 #

    I love the way your daughters resort to flattery to get what they want. Sounds familiar…

    Growing up in Canada I wasn’t exposed to chestnuts at all. I’ve discovered them since moving to the UK and I especially love chestnuts and chocolate together. Smooth, rich & decadent. It doesn’t get much better than that!

  22. MaryMoh March 3, 2011 at 12:35 #

    I do love chestnuts, roasted or boiled. My mom used to buy the dried chestnuts, soak it overnight and used it to make rice dumplings. They are just so delicious. Staying here in Scotland, I didn’t know there’s chestnut powder. I need to find out.

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