Does anything say cooling temperatures, red leaves, and brisk winds better then chestnuts? Those wonderful things that fall from big old trees and we roast over an open fire, but have way more purpose then we North Americans ever give them credit for.
I’m not sure I ever fully appreciated chestnuts until I went to France.
Last year I spent a month in Paris that was booked in a moment of just needing to escape and get away. If I hadn’t been so eager to leave I might have done a little research on the weather, because 24 out of 26 days it rained. I’m not kidding. It was so grey and dismal I almost missed Vancouver, which certainly doesn’t happen often. November is not the time to visit Paris.
Unless you really love chestnuts, which fortunately, I do.
I didn’t realize until I went to Paris that you can candy chestnuts and put them in anything. You can eat them plain, you can put them in cake (gateaux aux marron glace), ice cream (creme glace avec la marron glace), anf in chocolates (marron glace avec chocolat.) Basically when the sky falls Parisiennes fall for chestnuts. So of course, I did too.
When I came back I tried to make them, and I will try again, but man oh man, this is not an easy task, and it’s one that will take some practice I think, BUT in the meantime, I can make a cheaters one and then put it in brownies and no one will know. Except you, but your alright.
Dark Chocolate Brownies with “Candied” Chestnuts
(adapted from Jamie Oliver’s Bloomin’ Brilliant Brownie recipe)
1 heaping cup of Dark Chocolate
2/3 cup Butter
2/3 cup AP Flour
1/2 cup Cocoa Powder-use the best quality kind you can get!
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 cup Packed Light Brown Sugar
1/2 cup Sugar
1/2 cup Whole Chestnuts, roasted, peeled, chopped roughly.
In a small clean pot mix the sugar with just enough water to wet it, it should have the consistency of wet sand. If it’s too wet don’t worry, it will just take longer to cook out.
On high heat cook the sugar and water until it begins to caramelize. Now be careful, it will turn from light to dark very quickly. Once it starts to get auburn add in the chestnuts. It will sizzle and spit a bit, stir and stir until theirs neirly no liquid left and the sugar has crystalized all over the nuts. Put on an oven proof plate and let cool.
Preheat your oven to 350F and line an 8inch square pan with parchment on both sides. Set aside.
In a metal bowl set over a pot of simmering water on medium heat melt your butter and chocolate together.
Add in your sugar and vanilla.
Add in the eggs and stir until barely combined. Remember that eggs have a memory, if you beat them they will rise in the oven, and you want soft fudgey brownies so be gentle. Sift in your flour, cocoa, and baking powder, and then the chestnuts. Do not over mix.
Then pour that bad boy into your prepared pan and bake it for about twenty minutes, until the top has set and doesn’t wiggle but isn’t to firm. I’d err on the side of undercooked that over with brownies, personally. And then eat and eat and eat.