Puree, paste, chestnut cream… What are the differences?
This is the simplest transformation of brown. To make it, simply mix cooked and peeled chestnuts with a little water. This produces a beige-colored paste, which is used in savory and sweet recipes.
Chestnut paste is a sweetened chestnut puree. A syrup made from water and sugar is first made, before being mixed with the chestnuts. Everything is then mixed to be reduced to a paste.
Adding the syrup allows you to obtain a firmer texture, compared to sugar-free puree. Chestnut paste is used in particular to make Mont Blanc vermicelli.
Invented in 1885 by Clément Faugier, a French industrialist and politician, chestnut cream is more like a jam. Originally, it was created to use the broken pieces of candied chestnuts, accidentally produced during manufacturing. They were then remade with chestnuts, syrup and vanilla. The Crème de chestnuts d’Ardèche brand was also registered in 1924, to protect the recipe.
Very sweet, it is eaten alone and used in baking.
What about chestnut jam then?
To tell the difference between chestnut cream and chestnut jam, you have to look at the legislation, and not at the fruit used. Thus, while the sugar content of jams must not exceed 55%, chestnut cream must contain at least 60%.
Moreover, what we commonly call “chestnut” is actually a kind of large chestnut, resulting from a botanical cross. The real chestnut is a toxic plant, which should definitely not be consumed.
The recipe for homemade chestnut cream
Preparation: 25 mins
Cooking time: 35 mins
- 300 g chestnuts
- 250 g of sugar
- 100 g of water
- 1 vanilla pod
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Immerse the chestnuts in a salad bowl filled with water for 15 minutes.
Drain them. Cut the chestnuts with the tip of a knife.
Arrange them on a baking tray. Bake for 20 min.
Take the chestnuts out of the oven. Peel them while they are still hot, being careful not to burn yourself.
Split the vanilla pod in half. Scrape it to collect the seeds.
In a saucepan, bring the water, vanilla seeds and sugar to a boil. Let reduce until you obtain the consistency of a syrup.
Add the peeled chestnuts to the pan. Mix to coat them with syrup, leave to simmer for 15 minutes over low heat.
Mix the candied chestnuts in a food processor to transform them into a paste.
You can keep this chestnut cream for a week in the refrigerator in sterilized jars, or up to three months by freezing it.
Tip: to save time, use chestnuts that have already been peeled and cooked. They are generally sold in jars in supermarkets.
You can then start the recipe by making the syrup.
What to do with chestnut cream?
As a mousse, filling or cake, autumn desserts with chestnut cream are incredibly delicious. In this area, the emblematic pastry remains, of course, the Mont Blanc. Composed of a meringue base, whipped cream and chestnut puree vermicelli, it is as popular in France as it is internationally.
Don’t want to embark on complicated preparations? You can simply mix a few spoons of chestnut cream with cottage cheese, or use it to garnish your pancakes.
On the other hand, do not use chestnut cream and its paste in savory recipes. Unless you want to make a sweet and sour recipe. Otherwise, prefer chestnut puree (unsweetened) for soups, sauces and side dishes.