Marron Glacé are delicious candied chestnuts treats from Northern Italy and France.
Cuisine: French, Italian
1lbchestnuts peeled or 2 lb chestnuts with shells
1vanilla bean or 1 tsp vanilla extract
Day 1: Score & Peel Chestnuts
How to Score Chestnuts With A Chestnut KnifeStick the tip of the knife blade at the bottom of the chestnut on the side. Slit the chestnuts all the way up through the pointed top of the chestnut down again to the bottom, making kind of a vertical “U” cut. Go deep enough inside the chestnut with the knife blade to cut through inner skin, but not too deep to avoid cutting the chestnut itself.
How to Score Chestnuts With A Regular KnifeFor safety purposes, I recommend you don’t make a vertical “U” cut but rather a long slit cut across the rounded side of a chestnut. Again trying to cut through the inner skin but not to cut too deep into the nut.TIP: If the outer shell of the nut seems to hard to cut through, let chestnuts soak in water for 1-2. Past that time the hard shell will soften just enough and you’ll be able to score chestnuts with ease.
Bring a pot with water to a boil. Add 5-8 chestnuts and boil for 5 minutes.
Remove from the water and peel immediately removing both hard shell and thin inner.The chestnuts will be very hot to handle but peeling them while still hot is the best way to make them peel easily in one go. When chestnuts start to cool the inner skin will be very hard to remove.If this happens you can still peel them using one extra step that I mention below.
In the meantime put to boil the next batch of chestnuts.Boil for 5 minutes and peel.
In case you’ll have a couple of chestnuts with inner skin firmly attached, set them aside.Once you’re done peeling all the remaining chestnuts, put back to a boil those that you were not able to peel and boil them for another 1-2 minutes. Remove from hot water and peel immediately. This is essentially the same method (blanching) that is used to remove skin from almonds.At this point a highly recommend you weight the chestnuts.A lot of time you would have some bad chestnuts or some that fell apart that you’ll not eventually use in the recipe.
After you weight the chestnuts you’ll know exactly how much sugar and water you’ll need to the syrup.The ratio for chestnuts, sugar and water is 1:1:1 as you’ll see later in the recipe.
In a clean pot add peeled chestnuts, cover with water and bring to a boil. Boil for 12-14 minutes.At 11 minute mark I usually taste one to see if it’s ready. If there’s still a little crunch to it boil for another minute or 2.
Once chestnuts are cooked, very carefully, using a slotted spoon remove chestnuts from the boiling water.PRO TIP: Arrange peeled chestnuts in a steam basket before transferring to a pot. Once chestnuts are cooked, all you need to do is remove steam basket from water. Chestnuts will be perfectly drained and there will be far less breakage.
Prepare Sugar Syrup
In a separate pot add water and sugar, stir well and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes.
Carefully add cooked chestnuts or a steam basket with chestnuts. Wait till the syrup boils again, cook for 2 minute and turn off the heat.
Let chestnuts cool in sugar syrup for about 24 hours.
Using a slotted spoon or by simple remove the steam basket remove chestnuts from the syrup. Bring it to a boil, carefully add chestnuts, wait for boil, cooked for 1 minute and turn of the heat.
Day 3: Repeat the boiling and cooling process.
Repeat the boiling and cooling process. Once chestnuts are completely cool and the sugar syrup has become thick, one by one remove chestnuts from the syrup and place on a cooling wire rack.TIP: Line the surface under the cooling rack with parchment paper for easy cleaning.
At this point you can choose to let chestnuts dry at room temperature for 6-12 hours or preheat the oven to 150F (65C) and place chestnuts to dry for about 1-2 hours. Stick a prop to leave the door slightly open.
The sugar syrup will become thicker each day. But make sure you don’t burn (let cook for too long) at any step of the process. Otherwise it’ll turn rock hard and crystallize when cooled.
Use an old pot or pot that’s easy to and safe to scrub and clean for boilng chestnuts before peeling them. Don’t use ceramic coated pot or casserole. Chestnut shells will pigment the water and the pot.
If you end up having a lot of broken chestnuts don’t worry - the broken pieces don’t look pretty but they taste equally delicious.
If you have a pressure cooker, steam peeled chestnuts in a pressure cooker instead of boiling them. I find steamed chestnuts tend to break less.
Facilitate scoring chestnuts by placing them in a bowl of water and let soak for 30 minutes before scoring.
At the final step, before placing chestnuts to dry in the oven you can cover them with extra sugar glaze. Simply mix leftover sugar syrup with confectioners sugar until you get a runny paste. Deep each chestnuts in the glaze and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Dry in the oven as directed in the recipe.
Don’y throw away leftover sugar syrup. Instead, use it to sweeten drinks, use as a sauce for pancakes, crepes, ice-cream and even as a glaze for a bundt cake.