What do you get if you make a Chocolate Chestnut Tart, one that is made to be served with Vanilla Chestnut Syrup…but you don’t add in the chestnuts? And omit the syrup?
Why, Chocolate Pie of course!
Which is a lovely thing indeed! Unless that’s not actually what you’re supposed to be making. I started out making what everyone else in my online bake-a-long group was making: Dorie Greenspan’s Chocolate Chestnut Tart with Vanilla Chestnut Syrup, from her Baking Chez Moi cookbook.
I looked for several weeks for packaged chestnuts, but only found regular, raw, roasting chestnuts. Eh. Good enough, sez I! So I notched them with an X, boiled them, and then peeled them. Not exactly easy to peel them, let me tell you. I got maybe 4 whole chestnuts and a lot of chestnut crumbles, but again, eh, good enough!
The first step in the recipe was caramelizing the chestnuts. The idea is that one caramelizes the chestnuts that go into what is basically a chocolate pie, and then the remaining caramelized sauce (a fragrant vanilla bean and chestnut syrup) is served with the finished pie, preferably a la mode.
I dumped the ingredients in the pan, and turned up the heat to get the mixture boiling. Since watched pots don’t boil, I sat down on the sofa and started reading a book. Either there was a rip in the time-space continuum, or I read for longer than I planned, but at one point I lifted my head out of the book and sniffed. Burning? What was burning? Oh flibbertigibbet, my chestnuts!
The sauce had boiled, caramelized, and scorched, and smoke was rising from the pan. Lovely.
What was I reading? I can’t even remember. Those nuts were a goner, though.
But I did try to salvage them! I rinsed each sticky chestnut off, pared off the burnt bits, and thought about re-caramelizing them. However, given that there were only a few whole chestnuts and the rest were mere chestnuts crumbles, I finally looked at my poor scorched pan, admitted defeat, and threw the whole sticky mess into the garbage. Except for the pan. Which I scrubbed. And scrubbed. And scrubbed. (It felt like I was doing penance for my culinary sins.)
After all that work boiling and peeling the chestnuts, I didn’t have the heart to do it all over again. I also didn’t have the chestnuts. So I called it a day and went to bed.
The next day (today! Technically tonight.) I tried the recipe again. I made the sweet tart crust (very shortbread like), pre-baked it, made the filling (sort of a ganache mixed with eggs), and popped the whole shebang in to the oven. Half an hour later, voila, chocolate pie!
Not as fancy as what Dorie made, but just as tasty with some vanilla bean ice cream!
Next Post: Chicken-Fried Tofu (no really, it’s a thing!) or chickpea-stuffed baked samosas. Something savoury to balance out the holiday sweet overload. Not that that’s a bad thing!