Chocolate Chestnut Pie w/ Vanilla Chestnut Syrup! Sans Chestnuts. And Syrup.

Sliver o' pie! With vanilla bean ice cream. Yummers!

Sliver o’ pie! With vanilla bean ice cream. Yummers!

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.

A lot of work for a few chestnuts.

A lot of work for a few chestnuts.

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!

12 thoughts on “Chocolate Chestnut Pie w/ Vanilla Chestnut Syrup! Sans Chestnuts. And Syrup.

  1. Tricia S.

    Ok WOW- I am officially no longer complaining about my chestnut experience LOL. And I was whining big time. truth be told, the YOUTUBE video technique on how to not use the old school “x” and to instead make a circle around the middle almost cost me one of my fingers. And the chef taping the video said he was doing it this way because it was safer !! I kept thinking “if I get cut big time for this darn recipe I am really going to be displeased”. Ok, the language in my head was a bit more colorful LOL. Awesome job on patience, humor and resilience – your tart is simply lovely and I am sure it was YUMMY. Loved your post and the photos (esp that one with the chestnut shells…oy) Happy New Year !!

    1. Margaret Post author

      Wow, I hadn’t heard of the circle cut — that sounds dangerous! I can totally imagine a paring knife slipping and notching someone’s finger! And Happy New Year to you too! 🙂

  2. Summer

    Wow Margaret, great recovery from a burnt pot to a beautiful tart. I didn’t care for the chestnuts in my tart anyway. Your chocolate tart looks gorgeous and sounds delicious. Way to recover!

  3. Christie

    Oh my gosh, I can’t believe you even attempted with fresh chestnuts. I had the same thought having never had a chestnut before and my husband talked me out of it. I found the vacuum packed chestnuts in the kosher aisle at my grocery store (finally). I think a chocolate tart is still pretty amazing.

    1. Margaret Post author

      Thanks, Christie! I think fresh chestnuts probably would have given it a more chestnutty taste, for lack of a better description, but they are a total pain to peel. I’m totally going to do vacuum-packed chestnuts next time — or just go with the plain chocolate tart! 🙂


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