Marron Glacé (Candied and Glazed Chestnuts)

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Hello everyone and welcome to my sixth instructable!

Autumn, chestnut season! These delicious fruits can be prepared in various ways, but rest assured that the best one is Marron Glacé.

Marron Glacé is a confection consisting of a chestnut candied in sugar syrup and glazed.

The origin of this preparation is still unclear: it seems however that it was born in the the sixteenth century somewhere between the north of Italy and the south of France.

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Step 1: Chestnut Choice

As the name implies, the right chestnuts for this recipe are the "marron" (or "marroni", in Italian), a variety of fruits obtained from cultivated plants that are larger, easier to peel and a bit sweeter.

However, even normal, fairly large chestnuts can be fine, provided you have a good dose of patience when you peel them.

As I prefer to collect the fruits in the woods, rather than buy them, I usually use "normal" chestnuts.

Step 2: Ingredients and Main Utensils

The list of the ingredients is very short:

  • 500g of chestnuts ("marron" preferred)
  • 500g of white sugar
  • 500ml of water
  • one vanilla bean
  • two spoons of icing sugar
  • a lot of patience...

Utensils:

  • pots or saucepans of various sizes
  • a pan
  • a steamer basket
  • a skimmer
  • a sharp knife

Step 3: Wash the Chestnuts

Dip the chestnuts in a basin of water, rub them well and drain. Repeat the operation until they are well washed.

Step 4: Cut and Peel

With a sharp knife make a cut on the curved part of each chestnut, going from side to side (be careful not to hurt yourself). Make sure to cut the outer shell and also the inner skin, at the same time try not to damage the fruit too much.

Bring a saucepan of water to a boil and dip a dozen of chestnuts for a couple of minutes. In the meanwhile, put a pan on the stove to heat.

As you see the chestnuts starting to open, take them with a skimmer, quickly put them in the hot pan and cover with a lid. After less than a minute, the chestnut shell will open wide. Turn off the heat, pull them up and, trying not to burn your hands (at least not too much) peel them, being careful not to break them.

If the chestnuts are quite compact (like "marron"), they will peel very easily. If, on the other hand, they have many "folds", you will find some difficulties to remove the inner skin. Be patient and help yourself with a toothpick to go through the "wrinkles".

Consider that the pellicle will be quite easy to remove until they are hot, which is why we have to boil a few chestnuts at a time. If they become cold and you can no longer peel them, dip them again in the boiling water (not the same in which you put them with the shell, otherwise they will become dark) for a few seconds, pull them out and try again.

Repeat this operation with the other chestnuts, until you have peeled them all.

Step 5: Cook

Since the chestnuts are very delicate, to reduce the possibility of damage in the next steps, we will place them in the steamer basket to move them as little as possible. If you don't have a steamer basket, you can continue using the skimmer but try to be very delicate.

Fill a pot with cold water, dip the basket with the chestnuts and turn on the stove. From the boil, count 10/12 minutes.

To be sure they are cooked, use a needle or a skewer: it must enter and exit the fruit easily; if it's not the case, continue cooking for a minute and check again.

Once they are done, take the basket out and immerse it in a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking.

Step 6: Prepare the Syrup and Start the Candying

Prepare the vanilla bean by splitting it down its length with a sharp knife and opening it.

Pour water and sugar in a saucepan, add the vanilla bean and boil 5 minutes without stirring.

Now, gently dip the basket into the syrup, considering that all chestnuts must be completely immersed in the liquid. Once boiling again, reduce to simmer (hard boil could break chestnuts), wait for 1 minute and turn off the stove.

Perfect, you are done for today: cover the pot with a lid and wait 24 hours.

Step 7: Repeat for 4 Days and Dry

The following 4 days, all you have to do is to repeat last operations, so: bring syrup to a boil (the 2nd day remove vanilla bean), lower heat, cook chestnuts for 1 minute, turn off and cover.

Consider that, as mentioned before, chestnuts must always be completely immersed. So, if not, prepare some more syrup with the same proportions.

On the last day, after completing the procedure, remove the steamer basket and let it drain for about an hour.

Then gently collect, with the help of a spoon, the chestnuts to arrange them on a sweet cooling grid or, if you don't have one, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Let them dry for about 2/3 hours in a cool, dry place.

Step 8: Glaze

To prepare the glaze, mix approximately 2 spoons of icing sugar and 1 of syrup and beat with a fork until you get a not too liquid "cream".

Apply the icing on each chestnut with a pastry brush or dipping them directly.

Finally, put the chestnuts in the oven at 220 degrees for 2 minutes to crystallize the icing.

Let them cool completely.

Step 9: Ready to Taste!

Place each marron glacé in a mini paper baking cup.

Store them in a cool, dry place but I bet they will not last long...

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