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Chestnut puree is made of ground or mashed chestnuts, usually combined with water. Canned puree is most often used for baking or cooking, although it is possible to make fresh paste as well. Chestnut puree is most often used in French cuisine, although its use is constantly increasing due to expanded availability, especially throughout Europe. The puree can be made or purchased either sweetened or unsweetened, depending on its intended purpose. Chestnut spread, cream, and paste are all made from a base of pureed chestnuts.
When making the puree at home, chestnuts must be roasted and peeled before use. Roasted chestnuts are also available canned or vacuum packaged. The roasted chestnuts are boiled with water, and sometimes with milk as well. Butter is sometimes added, and various seasonings may also be added. Following a period of boiling, the mixture is mashed or blended to create a puree or paste.
Sweetened chestnut puree can be used as a sauce or topping for cakes, sweet breads, or ice cream. The French crème de marrons, a type of chestnut puree with brown sugar and vanilla, is commonly used as a topping for warm crepes. Chestnut cream is also frequently spread on toast, pancakes, or croissants.
Chestnut puree is often used to make desserts or sauces. Mousse, truffles, pies, cakes, and pastries frequently utilize it. It is not uncommon for unique desserts to be based upon chestnut puree as a secret ingredient. Chestnut cream or puree may also be used to make ice cream, gelato, and bread pudding. The popular French holiday dessert bûche de Noel uses a puree of chestnuts. Mont blanc, possibly the most well-known chestnut dessert, is a French dessert comprised of meringue topped with a fluffy chestnut cream followed by whipped cream.
The puree can also be used to make sauces or as a base for sweet and savory main dishes of all kinds. Chestnut puree can be used in both soups and stuffings. In addition, chestnut puree can be added to baked carrot, potato, pumpkin, yams, squash or other winter vegetable dishes.
Chestnuts also pair well with poultry, especially when the meat is roasted. The puree can be used as a glaze throughout the roasting process, as an addition to stuffing, or as a sauce for the final product. Similarly, chestnut paste is used in or on seafood dishes, specifically those using lobster.