Thursday, 13 December 2012

Take Me, Boil Me, Bake Me!

Castagnaccio con Albicocca e Pinoli
Baked Chestnut Pudding with Dried Apricot and Pine Nuts

Yes, those are the three things that the lovely chestnuts that are now in season and crying out for you to do with them! I love roasted chestnuts, they have a wonderful flavor that makes me think of "the good old days"- even though that is silly as I am not that old! But they just have a fragrance and flavor that for me evokes days gone by and a more down-to-earth and rustic kind of life- and what could be nicer at Christmas time than that?

I used pre-cooked chestnuts to make this dessert- the kind that are steamed and shrink wrapped- and these are what I always buy for cooking with... I only get the real thing if I am going to do the real deal and roast them in their shells! Otherwise... it is just too much trouble getting them cooked and shelled... and this way, you can whip up a dessert like this in next to no time!

To make this, I turned on my oven to pre heat and at the same time began to boil a small teacupful of milk. In the meantime, I chopped up the chestnuts- there was just a little more than a handful and that was all it took to make this generous individual portion. I roughly chopped the chestnut and added it to the milk as soon as it came to the boil, then stirred it in and added cinnamon, honey and a tiny hint of nutmeg to taste. I could have used a blender to turn the chestnut and milk into a smooth paste, but preferred to use a fork and mash it down so that it would have a more rough and ready, rustic texture. I then added a handful of chopped, dried apricot and a handful of pine nuts. And basically that was it!

Off into the hot oven they went- for around 25 minutes at 350°. During that time, the mixture becomes a nice fudge-like consistency and develops a great flavor... it is pretty delicious! More delicious still of course, when you lightly drizzle the little sticky pudding with honey and give it a minute or two to glaze over and become golden brown... mmm!

Great hot or equally good cold, then it is firmer and easier to slice.... not that I was worried about that! I just enjoyed mine piping hot and fresh with my little spoon and a hot mug of coffee! Delicious! Give it a go and see what you think!

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