I've always loved chestnuts in any shape or form, especially roast chestnuts. They always speak to me of Christmas markets, friends and family, and the smell alone is enough to carry me back. Traditionally, these should be eaten out of a paper cone, fresh from a roasting pan outside in freezing night air, and the chestnuts so hot you burn your fingers peeling them. The other day I settled for home-roasted ones for Little Bit and me, though. He ate fewer than I had anticipated (always the case) and I made the mistake of leaving the rest in the cast iron pan on the stove while I finished tempering chocolate. As a result, they were rock hard but not burnt. I hate the idea of food waste, so instead of tossing them in the compost, I decided to try and salvage them by turning them into custards. I didn't have enough eggs for that, so instead turned them into little puddings.
1 1/2 - 2 c chestnuts, roasted
3 tbsp butter
1 1/2 - 2 c milk
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp flour
1/3 c sugar
2 tbsp dark chocolate, grated
1) Melt 1 1/2 tbsp butter in a saucepan. Briefly toss the chestnuts in the butter, then simmer in milk until liquid is reduced by about half and the chestnuts are tender.
2) Blitz the chestnuts in milk, adding a touch of extra milk or some water if it is too thick.
3) In another saucepan, mix sugar and flour over medium heat. Add the chestnut mix and a little extra milk, and cook slowly, stirring well. When well incorporated, remove from heat and beat in the egg, remaining butter, and cinnamon. The egg should be fully cooked by the residual heat of the pudding.
4) Dish into little individual ramequins and sprinkle chocolate over the top. Chill in the fridge for an hour or so, then enjoy!
These were delightful. I wasn't able to blitz the chestnuts until smooth as Little Bit was already asleep and after about a minute of pulsing, he was starting to wake up. Instead, our puddings had chunks of roasted chestnut in them, which worked rather well. They would have been nice with a little whipped cream or mascarpone, but were also very tasty as is!
Book Pairing: While making these, I was listening to the start of In the Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick. It is a history of the real-life whaling ship Essex and its wreck which were the inspiration for Moby Dick. I decided that Brothers Karamazov by Dostoyevsky was too depressing and I wasn't in the mood, so instead switched to a book that opens with an account of cannibalism... Hmmm... It is well written, but listening to the unrelenting series of errors in judgement, leadership and navigation made by the captain and first mate and knowing where the whole thing is headed is a bit grim. It would be funny how badly things went if it weren't so tragic! At least, having decided that I wasn't up for anything depressing at the moment, this is a quicker read than Brothers K! Definitely worth a read if your mood can handle it though.