Tarte de Puree des Chataignes / Chestnut Puree Tart Recipe

Tarte de Puree des Chataignes / Chestnut Puree Tart

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-1 500g / 1-pound can sweetened chestnut puree -80g / 3 ounces butter -5 eggs, separated -Baking chocolate to garnish -Also required: large deep 9-inch pie pan, or similar baking tin

How to make Tarte de Puree des Chataignes / Chestnut Puree Tart

This recipe is an answer to the eternal question of what to do with that can of sweetened chestnut puree you got at the gourmet shop four years ago.

I went hunting among various websites one day looking for a quick answer to this problem, and found a lot of recipes involving (a) a great deal of work and (b) entirely too much chocolate and/or sugar. Most of these recipes seemed bent on using the chestnut puree merely as a sweetening agent or as a way to make a chocolate cake moister. This seemed somehow unfair, as the chestnut's delicate flavor can stand quite nicely on its own.

Some more searching turned up an extremely uncomplicated treatment native to the Ard├ęche region, where chestnuts are widely grown and used for their flour as well as for confectionery purposes. The recipe on the French website was very short on instructions (assuming, maybe correctly, that a lot of people reading it would be bakers skilled enough to know how best to treat the ingredients). Nonetheless, the recipe as I adapted it produces a tart that's definitely worth making -- quick, crustless, and more like a rich, faintly sweet chestnut cloud than anything else.

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C / 350F. Liberally butter the pie pan or tin.
  2. Melt the 80g / 3 ounces of butter in the microwave or on the stove. Set aside to cool slightly.
  3. Separate the eggs. In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks together with the chestnut puree until the mixture becomes light and thick (the goal is to beat as much air into the mixture as possible. Then, a little at a time, beat in the melted butter. Set aside.
  4. Beat the egg whites to the stiff-peak stage. Then add them to the egg yolk-chestnut puree mixture by spoonfuls and use a spatula to fold the whites carefully in. Don't panic if there are occasional small bits of stiff egg white left unfolded-in: it won't hurt the final result.
  5. When the oven is ready, pour the batter into the tin and place gently in the oven. Don't bang the oven door, as the mixture at this point is more like a souffle than anything else. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes. Keep an eye on the browning of the top of the tart: you don't want it too dark. If this starts happening, carefully open and close the oven door to let some heat out: then lower the oven heat slightly and bake for a few minutes longer.
  6. The tart will puff up considerable while baking. Once removed from the oven, it will start to collapse. Don't panic, as this is normal. While still hot, use a very fine grater (a lemon-zest-size grater works well) to grate bitter baking chocolate over the whole top of the tart. It will melt onto the tart's top. You may want to do several layers of this.
  7. Allow the tart to cool. (If you like, you might want to drizzle melted chocolate over it.) Slice and serve with thick cream, whipped cream, or pouring custard. Or (as my husband did in the picture he took) you may like to just grate a little more chocolate onto the side and dip each forkful into it.

(BTW, this recipe also lives, with many friends, at our food website:)


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