Hooray! It's that time of year again! Come autumn and the first chestnuts, they turn up again displayed in the various cakeshops. Up and down the country, they seduce people with their delicate chocolate, sweet cream and - the most important part – soft chestnut filling: chestnut hearts! They cannot escape the notice of any holidaymakers on the lookout for the good things in life in autumn.
What a chestnut heart should contain and the PROPER way to make them becomes the subject of lively debate at café tables. How much rum should you add or how much should they taste of rum? And please, not too much sugar in the chestnut puree so that they keep their nutty taste! It's quicker to make these sweet treats from tinned chestnut puree, but they're better when freshly prepared. The chestnut puree has to taste warm and soft, even when chilled.
The dollop of cream is the icing on the cake when it comes to their taste and appearance. Fresh and sweet, in its delicate casing, it is the soft bed on which the aromatic chestnut can unfold its rich taste.
Some like chestnut hearts covered in milk chococlate, but connoisseurs love a dark chocolate coating to counteract the sweetness of the chestnuts and cream. Here too, all in the right measure. A fork should be able to pierce the casing without breaking it.
The heart's essence
So, the perfect chestnut heart is made with a whole lot of love: a crunchy, dark chocolate casing for a smooth chestnut heart with a fluffy cream filling that melts in the mouth to create a bitter-sweet-nutty taste sensation. There's not much more to say about it, only that it has to be tried and tasted, preferably in a cosy spot in the company of loved ones.
Our special tip: home-made ones are even better! Ask our private landlords or landladies for their favourite ways of making chestnut hearts!
Our recipe for chestnut hearts (makes 8-12):
1 kg chestnuts
200 g icing sugar
3 dspn rum
250 g cooking chocolate or chocolate coating
200 ml fresh cream
2 dspn sugar
Cook chestnuts for around 50 minutes in a pressure cooker, peel and press through a potato ricer. Knead with icing sugar and rum and shape into smallish hearts. This works better when you put 2 short rolling pins together and taper the ends on one side to make the point of a heart.
Meanwhile, melt the chocolate in a bain marie, dip the points of the chestnut hearts in it and leave to cool on a piece of baking parchment. Then scrape out some of the chestnut mixture at the top, fill with whipped cream and place a dollop of cream on it. Decorate the cream with chestnut 'rice'.