Alison Evînam Boyd

a life creative

My Cucina Toscana: Candied Chestnuts

Castagne Candite, Marrons Glacé…a candied chestnut by any other name. To make them is a long and love-laborious process, five days to be precise. It took a dummy run to get them perfect, though the first attempt was far from a failure – from the decadent ruins I made a chestnut and grappa mascarpone mix to have with the castagnaccio – which was demolished in seconds.

Was it worth the six days it takes to make them? Yes. Oh, yes. Please have insulin on hand.

Ingredients:

  • 2kg of Marrons of the same size
  • 300g sugar [i know, right??]
  • Vanilla essence
  • 600ml water

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Method

Place whole unpeeled chestnuts in a large saucepan of water and bring to the boil for 4 minutes. Depending on the quantity [and this is something I’ll most likely do for ease of peeling in the future] you may want to do the boiling in batches. Anyone who has ever peeled chestnuts will know that it’s easiest done while they’re hot.

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Take a sharp knife and work from the tail to the nose. If you can, peel the inner skin off then and there [see photo below for the one naked chestnut that complied at the time], otherwise set them aside until you have peeled the outer shell off all of them.

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To easily peel the chestnuts’ fuzzy inner skin, bring a pan of water to the boil and dip three or four of them in at a time for about 20 seconds. Take them out and gently peel. Set them aside.

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Pour sugar and water into a pan and bring to boil.
Turn down and simmer for 10 minutes.
Add chestnuts and vanilla essence to the sugar syrup and bring to the boil once more, simmering for around 8 minutes.
Turn off the heat and allow to cool.
Refrigerate overnight, then, 24 hours later, remove from fridge and bring to boil for one minute.
Repeat this process each day for the next 4 or 5 days.
[Incidentally, these are the the steps that I must have forgotten to photograph…never mind, not seeing all that sugar in one place probably is a good thing].

On the final day, turn oven on to fan force 70°C. Place chestnuts on a tray lined with baking paper and, with the oven door open, leave these to dry for 2 hours. Then…enjoy.

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Before I vacuum packed these to send off the my sister in London solely in order to undermine her no-sugar-on-weekdays rule, I dusted them with vanilla icing sugar, just to be sure they’d be sweet enough.

Store in an air-tight container. They’ll be good for a couple of weeks… if they last that long.

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A presto
Cheers and ciao,
Ali

 

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