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100 Recipes for the Loving Cook

by Michael Zee

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Ingredients (5)

  • 1 pound chestnuts, cooked and peeled
  • 1 ½ cup sugar
  • ⅓ cup spiced dark rum of your choice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or paste
  • ¼ cup water
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If the Italians have gianduia, then the French have crème de marron. The intensely sweet chestnut puree is seriously addictive stuff.

It is the star ingredient in the famous dessert, the Mont Blanc but add a spoon to some yogurt, spread it on toast, pancakes, waffles or a little added to coffee for a delicious festive treat.

For me, chestnuts are one of the ultimate Christmas foods. Whether they’re stuffed into a roasted bird or exploding in the oven I almost can’t bring myself to eat them at any other time of year.

This recipe makes an excellent homemade Christmas gift with a twist. Make a big batch, write out some beautiful labels and treat your friends.


  1. 1In a saucepan, add the sugar, rum, water and vanilla. Gently heat the mix until the sugar has dissolved and then turn up the heat until it starts to boil and caramelize. After 3 minutes it should be dark and golden.
  2. 2Add the chestnuts and swirl the pan so they are all evenly coated in the syrup. Remove the pan from the heat and leave to cool slightly for 5 minutes.
  3. 3In a blender or food processor, add the sugary chestnuts and puree them, it will start off grainy in texture but it will smooth out. Add a few more tablespoons of water or rum, depending on how virtuous or sinful you want to be if the mixture is too thick.
  4. 4You want it to be spreadable like a peanut butter.
  5. 5Decant the mix into a jar of your choice.
  6. 6Keep the mix refrigerated, and it will be good for 3 to 4 weeks.
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