Have I ever mentioned how much I like chestnuts? Ever? Maybe once or twice, with the Chestnut Cookies, Caramel Chestnut Risotto, or Chestnut Puddings... They are a seasonal must for me around Christmas, and I absolutely love them. The smell of them roasting conjures up images of Christmas markets, hot chestnuts in paper bags, burnt fingers and the delicious sweet earthy flesh warming you from the inside...
For Christmas, we usually have pumpkin pie and mincemeat pie, but this year we decided to add in a new one, Chestnut Pie. Somehow, bouncing around ideas about something else entirely, and the idea of trying a chestnut pie came up. Other ideas are still pending testing, but the one we decided to make a reality is along the same lines as a pecan pie. However, those involved in the discussion agreed that pecan pie is generally too sweet, so we reduced the amount of sugar. I also don't like corn syrup, so instead, we used honey and citrus syrup left over from making Candied Peel. We also figured that the citrus would balance out the earthy flavour of the chestnuts. To address the sweetness, we also made a thin pie in a large dish rather than a deep one.
For the first try, we used frozen chestnuts (defrosted, of course), but raw. I had thought that 40 minutes in the oven would be enough to cook them, but it wasn't. In the second try, therefore, I used cooked chestnuts, boiling some first (saving the chestnut water, we'll see what it will come in handy for. Oatmeal maybe?), some I roasted.
For the pie crust, I used vinegar syrup from making pickled plums this summer. The added flavour was interesting, but a regular pie crust would work fine.
1 1/2 c flour
1/3 c butter, cold and cubed
1/3c milk/whey/plum vinegar syrup
1 kg chestnuts
3 tbsp butter
1/2 c light brown sugar
1/2 c honey
1/2 c citrus syrup (use molasses or maple syrup if need be. Or more honey)
1) In a large bowl, rub the butter and flour together until you achieve a wet sandy texture. Stir in the liquid, gathering into a dough, manipulating as little as possible. Chill.
2) In a separate bowl, cream butter and sugar. Stir in honey and syrup, then beat in eggs.
3) If using raw chestnuts, boil for about 10 minutes until tender. Then roast about half at 190°C for 15 minutes (alternatively, I did it in the air fryer).
4) Roll out pie crust, and line a pie plate with it. Pour in the chestnuts, and then the batter. Bake at 180°C for 40min. Allow to cool and set, then serve at room temperature.
I really liked this pie! And even the pecan pie doubters (*cough* Hubby) enjoyed it. I liked it better the first time around, but the chestnuts were better cooked the second time around. I would merely use pre-cooked chestnuts or boil them next time, and skip the roasting. I would also deliberately use light brown sugar. The second time I used dark brown sugar, and I think that worked less well, although that opinion was not unanimous. The pie crust worked, but a regular one would have worked equally well. The citrus syrup definitely worked, and I may even add orange zest or candied orange peel to this pie next time. We also used double the amount of chestnuts the second time around, making it super chestnutty. I would maybe split the difference in future and use 750g. The first time we had it with whipped cream, and the second time with mascarpone. Both work, but I think I preferred it with whipped cream.