This spectacular looking dessert is made with fresh peeled chestnuts that have been cooked in milk, Puréed and flavored with rum and chocolate. Its presentation resembles the snow capped peak of a mountain – Monte Bianco – the highest peak in Europe. This recipe was adapted from Marcella Hazan’s, The Classic Italian Cookbook and is my favorite chestnut recipe.
Serves 6 people
- 1 lb. fresh chestnuts
- 4 oz. (1/2 C.) semisweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces
- sugar to taste
- 1/4 C. rum
- heavy cream
- sugar to sweeten cream
The outer thin shell and inner bitter brown skin must be removed before eating; boiling will make the removal much easier. Rinse and dry the chestnuts before cooking. To facilitate removal of the shell, you’ll need a really sharp knife to carefully cut an X along the bottom of the nut where it was attached to the outer hard spiny shell. This works better than cutting an X on the flat side and needs to be done before boiling.
To boil – cover with cold water, bring to a boil, and simmer for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and scoop out a few at a time, peeling off the shell and the inner skin. As they cool and dry out, they become more difficult to peel, so work in small batches. Once peeled, finish cooking them in water, milk or broth according to your recipe. If you fully cook them in their shell (15-20 min) they are likely to crumble to pieces as you peel them.
Drain and peel the chestnuts and place them in a saucepan with just enough milk to cover, and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then simmer uncovered for about 25 minutes until the chestnuts are tender but not mushy.
Melt the chocolate in a 250°F oven or in the microwave over low heat.
Puree the chestnuts in a food mill or a food processor; add them to a mixing bowl. Mix in the melted chocolate and the rum until a soft paste has been formed. Put this mixture into a food mill or a ricer. Hold it over a serving platter and start dropping it close to the dish in a mountain mound, do not pat or attempt to shape it.
Whip the cream with sugar to sweeten to your taste. Using half of the whipped cream, attempt to cover only the top of the puree with it falling slightly down the sides at random to simulate falling snow. Bring the remaining whipped cram to the table, for anybody who might want a bit more “snow” on his portion.