An autumn delight with an irresistibly intense flavor of chestnuts and chocolate.
These tasty truffels are prepared with boiled chestnuts, melted chocolate and Maraschino liqueur, then dusted with a layer of cocoa powder. The preparation is simple and requires no special pastry skills, but even so the results are very impressive. You can prepare the truffle dough the day before (store it overnight in the refrigerator) and make the truffles just before serving them. Chestnuts, typical of the Mediterranean and Middle-East countries, are harvested in the autumn. It is a common family pastime to take a walk in the woods on a warm autumn day and to pick up chestnuts, to enjoy later after boiling in water or roasting them over a grill. Chestnuts are very nutritious, rich in complex carbohydrates (a good source of energy), vitamins (especially B group), minerals (magnesium, potassium and phosphorus) and fiber. They are very versatile, I use them both in savory (soups and fillings) and sweet recipes. In Italy we also use chestnut flour to prepare bread, polenta and the well known cake “castagnaccio”. Have you ever thought about the difference between marrons (marroni) and chestnuts? Marroni are the fruit of the domestic chestnut tree; they are slightly sweeter and contain only one fruit per burr. Chestnuts, on the other hand, are the fruit of the wild chestnut tree and have three fruits per burr. Apart from this botanical distinction they are both very tasty.
TARTUFI DI CASTAGNE (CHESTNUT TRUFFLES)
Preparation time: 1 1/2 hrs Cooking time: 1 hr Yield: 25 truffles
500 g (18 oz) chestnuts or 300 g (about 11 oz) peeled chestnuts
2 bay leaves
50 g (3 tablespoons) butter at room temperature
60 g (2 oz) dark chocolate
3 tablespoons heavy cream
3 tablespoons milk
5o g (2/3 cup) powdered sugar
2 tablespoon Maraschino liquor
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1. In a pan boil chestnuts in salted water and bay leaves for at least one hour (chestunts should be tender). Drain, remove shells and inner skins.
2. While chestnuts are still hot pass through a food mill (if chestnuts are too dry, add the milk). Mix the milled chestnuts and butter well with a wooden spoon in a clean bowl.
3. Melt chocolate in a double boiler and add to the chestnut puree. Add cream, sugar, vanilla and Maraschino. Mix with a spoon until creamy.
4. Cover the bowl with cling paper and leave in the fridge for at least 1 hour (you can keep the dough in the refrigerator for more then 24 hours). It should be firm.
5. Shape into balls of 2.5 cm (1 inch) diameter using the palms of your hands. Dust with cocoa powder and place in small muffin cups. It is better to coat them with the cocoa just before serving, because the cocoa will be absorbed.
Note: When buying chestnuts make sure they are firm, that the skin is intact and the color bright. You can keep chestnuts in the refrigerator (2-3°C , 34°F) for about 1 month. Paola