Chestnut bouchons

Do you like chestnuts?  It's one of my very favorite things to eat. Unfortunately, they're not readily available or very popular here in the States. I won't go into all the reasons for that but I will tell you that I get excited when chestnuts start appearing in the supermarkets in late Fall.  It's almost that time and I've got chestnuts on the brain!  I munch on packaged chestnuts throughout the year but it's just not the same as getting a really good batch of fresh chestnuts.  I don't get fancy with it - I simply boil them and enjoy their delicious aroma and flavor while they're piping hot.  I am very greedy about my chestnuts!
When we went to Paris last year, one of my favorite things to eat were crepes filled with chestnut cream.  I think I had one everyday and choose it over Nutella despite how much I adore Nutella.  I loved how prevalent chestnut desserts were and I was amazed by how common and inexpensive chestnut cream was there!  I stocked up on a handful of jars, came home and used them to make my own crepes and to fill them in financiers.  Now, I'm taking my precious chestnut cream to make a few of these little cakes, or bouchons. 
I had to translate this recipe from French.  That's difficult for someone who knows about five words in the language!  Luckily, it is a miraculously short and simple recipe.  It comes from a little book I picked up at Lenôtre in Paris. The shop/quasi-restaurant I visited didn't sell pastries but I comforted myself by buying some chocolates, biscuits, and a couple of mini books. One book contained recipes using chestnut cream while the other was all about another of my favorites - Nutella!  They are adorable little books and I'm glad to be trying one of the recipes from the chestnut book here today.
Prepping these bouchons literally takes 5 minutes and 3 ingredients!  That said, getting your hands on some chestnut cream to begin with is half the battle because with that basis, all you do is whisk in some egg and melted butter - maybe throw in a pinch of salt if you don't mind going to the trouble. No flour necessary.  

Bake these little bouchons in miniature paper condiment cups - they give you that "bouchon" or cork-like shape without needing a special mold.  Plus, they're just cute that way!  In about 25 minutes, you have moist little cakelets that taste pretty much like a mont blanc filling. They were very tasty, obviously full of chestnut flavor, and a worthy use of my precious (and sadly, now dwindling...) stash of chestnut cream. 
I made these last Sunday - popping them in and out of the oven right before making a quick run out to the farmer's market - to have with our breakfast.  When I came back and we all sat down to breakfast, we ripped apart the little paper cups and gobbled up these tiny cakes, scrapping up every bite, in no time.  They're great for breakfast or as little tea cakes on an afternoon.  I think we can all use a little treat during our day and these mini chestnut cakes are my kind of Fall afternoon snack.  

Chestnuts are my Fall (and winter) craving and I'm sitting here daydreaming about getting my hands on a fresh batch real soon.  In the meantime, I have my chestnut cream and these mini chestnut bouchons...


In case you're interested, these are the two little books I talked about. There's a picture with each recipe and everything looks beautiful and delicious. The only problem is it's entirely in French!  (It's the same issue I have with many beautiful Japanese cookbooks.)
Flipping through the chestnut cream cookbook one day for a new idea since chestnuts were on my mind, I settled on these easy chestnut bouchons.  The thick chestnut cream, or  crème de marrons, is a thick paste made mainly from chestnuts, sugar, vanilla and, in some cases, cream.  You can even try making your own chestnuts cream:  Rachel Khoo has a video on how to do it that you can watch here. Since my supply is running so low, making my own is an option I may have to consider.
Since resources are so scarce, I only made 5 bouchons to go with our Sunday breakfast.  All you need to do is whisk the chestnut cream with egg and some melted butter.  The recipe actually called for "slightly-salted butter", which I've never heard of.  I simply tossed in a small pinch of salt...that never hurts in terms of heightening flavor.  
I think I exaggerated when I said it takes 5 minutes to put the batter together.  It's more like 2-3 minutes!  I then just poured the batter into the small, 1-oz. disposable paper cups (these), almost to the top, leaving a little room for them to puff up in the oven.  I didn't want them to spill over.
I baked the cakes in a 350 degree oven.  The recipe actually reads 180-degree Celsius, which is 356-degrees Fahrenheit!  I took the liberty of baking mine at the standard 350 but I think it would be fine to go with a slightly higher temperature - it might get you a darker crust on them, which is nice.  In about 25 minutes, the bouchons are puffed and ready to be removed from the oven and cooled completely before eating.
To eat, we simply ripped the paper cups apart.  You could go in with a small spoon and dig in.  They do stick to the paper so it's not something you would unmold.  The center, if you're interested, is set but very moist.  Flavor is full-on chestnut, making me feel like I was eating a mont blanc or a chestnut mousse.  It again got me thinking that I've got to use chestnut cream for a cake filling one of these day.


Recipe:

Chestnut Bouchons
Translated from the recipe "Petits Bouchons" from the book, Crème De Marrons

- For 10 mini bouchons, or cakes, baked in mini 1-oz paper cups -

190 grams chestnut cream (or "crème de marrons" such as this one)
1 large egg
40 grams unsalted butter
Small pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place ten small, 1-ounce, paper condiment cups on a baking sheet.

In a bowl, whisk melted butter and salt into the chestnut cream.  Add egg and continue to whisk together until well blended.

Divide the batter among the cups, filling each almost to the top, about 80% of the way (leaving a little room for them to puff in the oven).  Bake for about 25 minutes, or until puffed and set.  Remove from the oven and let cool completely.  Enjoy!






54 comments:

  1. Believe it or not, I've never had chestnuts or even cooked/baked with it. Sigh. I'm missing out on this deliciousness :)

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    1. I hope you do soon and find that you like it, Kiran! My mom used to make a chicken & chestnut soup and I love it with chicken. As for sweets, my favorite cake is a sponge with chestnut filling. I'm all about the chestnuts - I'm just nuts. ; )

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  2. I don't think I have ever had fresh chestnut, only the canned ones. These are so cute Monica! Knowing me, I'll eat more than I should in one sitting. ha ha! Enjoy the rest of your weekend. :)

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    1. They are so "rare" in the States - there was some blight that wiped out American chestnut trees. I actually just heard about a grower in Florida and the idea of going chestnut picking has me wanting to get tickets to Florida! I hope you give fresh ones a try if you see them at the market. Thanks, Anne!

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  3. I haven't had a chesnut since I was like 6-7, and they're very popular in Spain! I've now realised how badly I'm craving them. I think I'm going to buy some now that they're on season and try to make these lovely bouchons. They look delish and so so cute!
    Enjoy your Sunday! x

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    1. Hi Consuelo - please get some chestnuts for my sake! please! haha I'm drooling at the thought of all the chestnuts available for you now. Have a great Sunday!

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  4. I love chestnuts! These are a perfect fall afternoon tea treat!

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  5. Oh yum, I haven't had roasted chestnuts since I was little. There used to be this store in downtown Toronto that used to sell roasted chestnuts in the winter time and my parents would always buy a bag for my brothers and I to share. It was sooo good!!
    These chestnut bouchons sound amazing and look so adorable! I think I need to get some of that chestnut cream - it sounds heavenly! Thanks so much for sharing these and bringing back such great childhood memories for me :) Enjoy the rest of the weekend Monica :)

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    1. Kelly - I went to Japan right after I graduated college and to this day, one of my biggest memories is buying this bag of small roasted chestnuts on the street. It came with this ingenious little scoop/spoon that let you piece and then scoop out the chestnuts! So good and I still think of that all the time! Food memories are truly special.
      Thanks for the comment, Kelly.

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  6. Those cookbooks look so cute! I love the sound of these - they look so moist. I honestly don't think I've ever had fresh chestnuts - I feel like I've been missing out!

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    1. Hi Ashley - I thought those little books were so adorable too when I first saw them. They were inexpensive so I had to grab them. : ) I'm a little surprised by how many people haven't had fresh chestnuts! They are in season right about now and you should definitely find them in supermarkets around Thanksgiving (even though it's usually in a small basket and not a ton of them). I love the Italian ones - the flavor of warm chestnuts can be so amazing (and hard to describe) when you get a good batch! Hope you try some one day...

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  7. I've never eaten chestnuts before. We don't get them here But they way you've described them makes me salivate! these bouchons are toooo tempting! Amazing! :)

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    1. Thank you, Samina! Clearly, you're not the only person who's not had chestnuts. I personally do love them and I want them all year round but it could just be me. : )

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  8. Now this I’ll gladly eat any day.

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  9. These chestnut bouchons look divine! I have only ever made chocolate bouchons before so can only imagine how great these chestnut ones taste! Well done for your successful French translation also.

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    1. Thank you, Jo! I've had Thomas Keller's chocolate bouchons and was once tempted to buy bouchon molds (on sale) to make them but I somehow managed to restrain myself. I love chocolate bouchons - what's not to like. These chestnut ones were totally fun and great for a chestnut fan. Thank you for applauding my translation efforts - let's just hope I did it correctly! haha

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  10. Of course I do, I eat them roasted and have added them to savory dishes but haven't made anything sweet with it. the bouchons look delicious and not hard to make!

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    1. Yay! I love chestnuts in savory dishes too. Great with stewed chicken and chestnut soup (my mom used to make) is amazing. These are crazy easy to make if you have chestnut cream.

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  11. Your chestnut bouchons look adorable and the flavors are so wonderfully fall-themed.

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    1. Thank you - does make me think of fall and the upcoming holidays.

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  12. Love chestnuts, especially the roasted ones. This recipe is amazing, chestnut bouchons, oh yummm. Monica, you just brought back some lovely memories of our crepes in Paris and Rome, they are the best. I can't wait to try these little cakes. In fact I found some really great chestnuts in an Asian store, I might go and pick up some to try these out. thanks.

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    1. Oh, I'm so glad it brought back some good memories. Love when food does that. I really need to master the art of roasting chestnuts - someone do a tutorial, please! : )

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  13. Replies
    1. Thanks, Marie. Mini things always have the cute factor going for them, even if nothing else. I adore little things.

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  14. These little bouchons are so cute!!! Monica, how do you boil chestnuts?? I love chestnuts but thought roasting was the only way. I always get them from street vendors in ny around xmas time, but they're often all dried out. I bet boiled ones are delicious!

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    1. Amy - as someone who loves chestnuts, sometimes I'm a little "ashamed" that I don't know how to cook them in a more "fancy" way. I've always just boiled them...I tried roasting them once and it was no-good. They weren't quite done and I gave up. The street vendor ones don't seem to be very good - dry like you said. When you get good plump ones and it's hot, it is totally different.

      Now on to the boiling. I simply rinse them out in a pot a couple of times, then fill the pot with cold water covering the chestnuts by at least 2-3 inches. You want plenty of water for them to boil around in. Bring to a rapid boil, then turn flame down slightly and crack open the lid a bit and continue boiling til the chestnuts are soft. I find that 20-25 minutes seems to be the magic time-frame but it depends on the size of the chestnuts and whether you want it super fluffy inside. Best thing to do is to take one out and carefully try it. Eat them hot/warm...they are tasty and come away from the peel a lot easier that way. : )

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    2. Thanks for the tutorial! Do you have to score the skin at all before boiling or just leave them as-is?

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    3. No, I don't score the skin or anything. The tips of a few may just begin to peel away by the time you're done but I've never scored them and just left them as is. The boiling liquid will be brown by the end and it may stain your pan a little (a little rim just at the top where the water level was) but it's not bad...just thought I'd mention it.

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  15. I like chestnuts, but it is so complicated to cook and peel, therefore I always avoid getting it...I will look for the chestnut cream...and yes, I love the simplicity of these little treats...so delicate.
    Monica...thank you so much for the support, I really appreciate...
    Enjoy your week :D

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    1. Hi Juliana - keep your chin up and all the best to you. I know there's plenty of deliciousness and comforting foods in your kitchen to keep you busy! It is always great to hear from you so don't be a stranger!! : )

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  16. We went chestnut picking last Autumn and I have been a big fan of them ever since. This is such a lovely and doable recipe. I'll have to look for chestnut cream but it looks so worth it!.

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    1. Oh! We went apple/pumpkin/tomato picking this weekend I've just been talking about how awesome it would be if I could go chestnut picking instead! I actually read about a chestnut farm in Florida and it's got me wanting to get down there. Sigh...I can day dream... : ) This recipe really is beyond simple. I know I just need to stock up on more chestnut cream.

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  17. My father in law LOVES chestnuts! He'd go crazy for this!

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  18. I guess i'm gonna use the canned ones....
    never had a chance to taste a chestnut pastry but stif fry before, tempting to try!

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    1. I like chestnuts in savory recipes, too. It's great in so many ways.

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  19. I wonder why chestnut cream is SO expensive here when it is so NOT expensive there! Crazy. And sad because I, too, love chestnuts. I think these are definitely worth the splurge.

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    1. ou know, Joanne...I was really surprised by how inexpensive they were in France. It was stocked like peanut butter in the markets and even in chocolate shops and at Le Cordon Bleu where I took a class, it was just a few euros a jar. Here, it's hard to find, expensive, and I'll likely need to pay shipping. That said, I think I'd still buy some when I run out... : )

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  20. Mmm, delicious! I love chestnuts - such an underused ingredient... I've got some chestnuts and chestnut puree but I'm on the look out for chestnut flour which I'd love to bake with.

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    1. As someone who loves chestnuts, I completely agree with you! I have been thinking about chestnut flour, too! I'd love to give that a try (though I don't see many recipes using it) but again, it's not something I've ever seen in stores and would need to mail order.

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  21. These chestnut bouchons sound delightful! Yum!

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  22. It's so cool that you used a French cookbook to make this recipe, and it's so easy too! I actually don't remember if I've ever had chestnut cream, but the way you describe it makes me want to try it so much--especially in these bouchons! Also, I love that you bought a Nutella cookbook too. I'd love to see you share a recipe from that!!

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    1. Thank you so much, Monica! It was fun to find a simple recipe and those books are too cute. The chestnut cream is so delicious as a filling for crepes and as a muffin/tea cake "stuffing"! I'll have to check out the Nutella book and get back to you. xo

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  23. YES YES YES YES!!! I am a huge fan of chestnuts and I really wonder why the chestnut desserts are not so popular here. We have lots of Japanese and European chestnut desserts in Japan. This looks so good and the chestnut cream? WOW I can scoop up and eat it. I'm so jealous! <3 Your chestnuts bouchons look so pretty and I can imagine the taste... very nice!

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    1. I had a feeling you'd be a chestnut fan, Nami! I still think about the ones I had in Japan years ago! When I think of "special" foods, chestnut is one of them...maybe it's because it's so hard for me to find them fresh around here! I love chestnut desserts. I had chestnut gelato once...heaven!

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  24. Wow... These are so interesting! I have had chestnuts growing up, but they are usually in savory dishes. Definitely never try chestnut cream before. Your cute little bouchons look incredible. Very moist and beautiful... Yum...

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    1. Thank you! I love chestnuts in savory dishes so nothing wrong with that. I daydream about them in stewed chicken and soups...ahh... : )

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  25. these are so adorable! and i can't say why, BUT: i may need to send you my Feast magazine article for December when it comes out. because...guess. :)

    *my secret ingredient is marron glace: otherwise known as candied chestnuts.*

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    1. Sounds wonderful! I love marron glace - obviously! But the usual cost like $10 each so I haven't had many. Yum, yum, yum!

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  26. When I went to Italy a few years back we got roasted chestnuts from the street vendor. So good! Love the idea of these mini chestnut bouchons! And there are only a few ingredients? Simple is sometimes best. So cute and I bet flavorful.

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    1. Roasted chestnuts in Italy! Does it get any more romantic and delicious than that?! I had chestnut gelato once and that made me very happy that afternoon (but I was in Canada, not Italy).

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