Home-made Sweet Chestnut Puree

by | Dec 13, 2013 | Desserts

Sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa) belongs to the family of beech species and it’s unrelated to water and horse chestnut. Originally native to South-Eastern Europe and it has been grown since ancient times. The Romans planted chestnut trees across Europe to harvest their edible crops that was an important part of the Roman diet (roasted or ground into flour).

Chestnuts
Chestnuts – photo: zserbo.com

Chestnut tree is a very useful plant. The tree can grow to 30 meters tall and it is one of the longest-lived trees. 200-300 year old trees are not rare, but thousand-year-old chestnut trees are also recorded. It bears its first crop at 20 years of age. Its flowers are rich source of nectar, the sweet chestnut honey is a special delicacy. Europe’s largest chestnut-growing areas can be found in Italy (Mugello region – north of Florence) and in France (in the neighbourhood of Lyon). In Hungary there are extensive plantations in the Sopron mountains, Zala Hills and on the southern slopes of Börzsöny.

Chestnuts are nutritious and delicious fall and winter treat. They can be boiled, steamed and, of course, roasted over an open fire. In Hungary Queen Beatrix (wife of king Matthias) spread the Italian chestnut recipes in the 15th century, capon with chestnut was the favorite dish of the king. On those places where the soil was unsuitable for cultivation, for the families chestnut replaced grains and potatoes.

Chestnut puree is a very popular dessert in Hungary. It has its origin in France, called Mont Blanc that refers to the huge pile of whipped cream reminding the snowy mountain. However, Mont Blanc is a copy of the Italien Monte Bianco. Monte Bianco’s recipe already appeared in a cookbook printed in Florence in 1475. Later it was a common dessert on Cesare and Lucrezia Borgia’s table. It spread in France around 1620.

Chestnut puree is a little bit complicated to prepare it at home if you use real chestnuts and not chustnut paste, but the final result compensates your efforts.

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Hungarian cottage cheese

This is what Hungarian túró looks like

You often ask me what kind of cottage cheese (or curd cheese or farmer's cheese - call it what you want) I use in the recipes. In Hungary the store-bought cottage cheese is dry and crumbly as you can see in the picture. So if a recipe calls for túró, I mean this type. If you can't obtain túró, you can try to make your own from whole milk. Click on the link below.

Wish list

If you are looking for a Hungarian recipe that hasn't been published on this website yet, let me know, and I'll do my best to post it.

Metric system vs cup

In Hungary metric units are in use, all the recipes on this website are based on this system, so a kitchen scale is necessary. Since I’m not familiar with cup as a measurement unit, I convert grams to cups by using an online converter. The values in brackets, therefore, are only approximate volumes, so, please, double-check them before you start cooking.

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