I craved this desert for a long time. It is not easy to find chestnuts here, and if you do, they are so expensive. My husband payed $18 for 3 pounds of chestnuts in shells, he couldn't resist it. But, I swear, at least one third of them were rotten and useless. My advice to you is to buy them already shelled and cleaned, in a bag, I found one in Whole Foods. It is more expensive than chestnuts in shells, but overall it is a better value.
I will be honest, cleaning chesnuts is a big pain. I did it both ways, roasting and boiling, and I don't have any preference. It is going to be a torture for your thumbs. But as soon as I tried my chestnut puree, I was transported to other time and other place, and the taste brought so many childhood memories. It was worth it, after all.
Chestnut puree is, I guess, French stuff, they use it in many cakes. So this is a basic recipe and you can use it to make other sweet treats. Or, you can serve it with whipped cream as I did.
400g chestnuts in shells or 300g chestnuts without shells
500ml (2 cups) milk
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon dark rum
or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
For whipped cream:
1 1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
1. Cut into chestnut shell with paring knife all the way around as I did on the picture, or cut the large X into round side. This will make it easier to remove the shell after boiling.
2. Bring a medium pan of water to a boil. Boil the chestnuts for 5 minutes. Do multiple little batches, rather than all at once, as the shells need to be removed quickly after you take chestnuts out of water.
3. Peel the shells. They are hot and you have to be very careful.
4. Add sugar to milk and bring to boil. Reduce the heat to low and add chestnuts. While the chestnuts are cooking, stir them regularly. It will take about 1 hour to have them soft enough. Pour in dark rum if you like, or vanilla extract. Remove from the heat and let it cool down.
5. Using hand blender, blend cooked chestnuts with milk until you get a smooth paste. Scoop it in serving glasses or bowls.
6. When the puree is cold add whipped cream on top of it. Keep it in the fridge. This recipe makes approximately 2 cups of chestnut puree.