Saturday, November 05, 2011

What's Been Cooking in My Kitchen? Candied Chinese Chestnuts

Chinese Chestnuts and Glass Pumpkin
Fall is my favorite season. A native of Western New York and now a Floridian, autumn just isn't the same down here. 

A few weeks back my mom sent my favorite fall treat - Chinese chestnuts from the family backyard. It's always a game picking them up before the squirrels and deer do.


I'm not too versed in what to do with them other than slice the shell and roast em in the oven (on 350 F degrees) until the shells have peeled back and the exposed nut is lightly browned. Peel them (little pieces always get underneath my fingernails and cut up my fingers - ouch!), dip in melted butter, sprinkle with salt and savor.

Yum, yum!

I did that with some but wanted to try something different so I found this recipe for Candied Chestnuts which basically consists of chestnuts, water, sugar and vanilla. Apparently, this is a popular delicacy in France. Ooo, la, la.

Now, what the recipe doesn't explain is what to do with the chestnuts first. It discusses boiling them but doesn't say whether in the shells or not.
Chestnuts Boiling in their Shells
Having made the recipe I'm thinking I should have roasted them then boiled them because it was a heck of a time getting them out of the shells after being boiled. I ended up breaking about half of them.
Chestnuts De-Shelled



The Candied Chestnuts recipe then calls for boiling the chestnuts in the water, sugar, vanilla solution. Okay, fine.

But then, the nuts are stored in the fridge between 12 and 24 hours then boiled again and the process is repeated for a few days.
Chinese Chestnuts Boiling for the Fourth Time

Once the nuts have absorbed the sugary sweetness (or as the French call it, "marron glacé"), to your liking, place them on parchment paper on a cookie sheet in a 275 F degree pre-heated oven and turn off the heat. The nuts should dry until, well, until dry on the outside.
Candied Chinese Chestnuts

Honestly, I don't think the marron glacé penetrated all the way through the nut but the exterior sure is sweet. The center is still soft and holds the nutty flavor.

I've sealed them up and have them in the freezer, waiting to share them at Christmas. I'll probably pop them back in the over to firm up a little.

Do you have a favorite recipe for Chinese chestnuts?

Note: The glass pumpkin in the photo at the very top is from the Glass Market at Corning Museum of Glass – thanks, Mom!

And remember, see what else is new with me over at www.SoloTravelGirl.com.

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