Chestnut “Potatoes”

Kaštanové Brambůrky

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Easy

  • Makes about

    24

    truffles

Appears in

These are really a truffle-like confection, but they appear next to the cookies in many a bakery display case during the Christmas holidays. Like fruit-shaped marzipan, these are supposed to charmingly resemble potatoes. They’re made with fresh chestnuts, and they need to dry and firm at room temperature for three days before serving. Thanks to Czech-born food writer Michael Krondl for this recipe.

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces fresh chestnuts
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup brandy
  • 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, grated on the large holes of a box grater
  • pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup confectioners’ sugar

Method

  1. Using a small serrated knife, cut an “X” on the flat side of each chestnut. Place in a medium saucepan and cover with water. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer to loosen the skins, about 10 minutes.
  2. Drain the chestnuts, transfer to a bowl, and cover to keep as hot as possible. Protecting your hands from the hot chestnuts with a towel, and using a small paring knife, peel the hard outer and thin inner shells. Chop the chestnuts; you should have about cups of chestnut pieces.
  3. In a small saucepan, bring the granulated sugar and brandy to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 1 minute. (Take care not to let the brandy catch fire. Have a lid handy to put on the saucepan to extinguish the flames, if necessary.) Add the chestnuts and cover tightly. Simmer, stirring occasionally and adding water if the liquid evaporates too quickly, on medium-low heat until the chestnuts are very tender, 10 to 15 minutes.
  4. Transfer the hot chestnuts and syrup to a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Add the chocolate and purée. Add the nutmeg and vanilla and process until very smooth. Transfer to a bowl and cool until easy to handle.
  5. Form the chestnut mixture in 1-inch balls. Sift the cocoa and confectioners’ sugar together into a small bowl. Roll the balls in the cocoa mixture, then form them into irregularly shaped “potatoes.” Store in an airtight container at a cool room temperature for at least 3 days, then refrigerate until serving. Roll again in the cocoa mixture before serving.

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