Also called crema di castagne, chestnut marmelade is one of my all time favorites! I first encountered it when I lived in Italy, where Carla et al playfully called it “marmellatos castañeros”. With chestnuts collected from their hilltop pozzetto (“kitchen garden”; which is actually a small farm), the boiling, peeling and pureeing of the chestnuts is a full-day affair well worth the effort when tackled socially. Once the chestnuts are ready, the prep entails a simple addition of a simple syrup (dissolved sugar and water) and vanilla.
I’ve made chestnut marmelade a few times over the years, but have found shortcuts that satisfice. You can sometimes find frozen or jarred peeled and cooked chestnuts at the supermarket, and if you’re lucky, an unsweetened Clement Faugier chestnut puree straight from France. While not ideal, using them reduces prep time considerably. Carla’s ratio of sugar to castagne was 8 etti (800 gr.) to 1 kg. I found that a bit too sweet so I reduced the sugar to about a third, 300 gr. Prepared chestnut spreads also tend to be too sweet for my taste, but of the spreads I’ve bought over the years, the Agrimontana chestnut cream (from Piemonte)and the Clement Faugier chestnut puree (French) are the best.Picture grabbed from Noel Crizilles.
Candied chestnuts are a well-regarded holiday hostess gift. (Chestnuts are seasonal, falling from the tree from September to December.) Called by their French name, les marrons glacés glisten under glass displays in all sorts of pastry, coffee, and candy shops in and around Torino. They’re easy to find in France as well. In fact, I’ve even eaten them in Turkey, at Uludağ, a ski resort near Bursa. The “kestane şekerli” there are quite famous. Sigh. I wonder if any Philly venues sell these little treasures?