Though time-consuming, these candied chestnuts are worth every bit of the effort. You must use fresh chestnuts. They can be individually wrapped in foil or cellophane and offered as gifts or reserved as garnish for cakes and mousses.
Servings: 4 pounds
- 4 pounds unshelled fresh chestnuts
- 2 1/2 cups water
- 2 pounds sugar (about 4 1/2 cups)
- 1 vanilla bean
Using a sharp knife, cut an "X" into the flat side of each chestnut, making sure to pierce the outer and inner skin. (This allows moisture to escape during cooking and prevents the chestnuts from exploding.)
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the scored chestnuts and boil for 5 minutes. (You might need to boil them in batches.) Carefully drain the chestnuts, discarding the water. Set aside until cool enough to handle. Peel the chestnuts, discarding the outer shells and inner skins.
Rinse the pot. Return the peeled chestnuts to the pot, add the water, sugar and vanilla bean and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and simmer gently until the sugar is completely dissolved, about 5 minutes. Increase the heat to medium-high and boil for an additional 5 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and carefully pour the chestnuts and the syrup into a heatproof bowl. Cover and set aside for 12 hours.
Return the chestnuts and the syrup to the pot, bring to a boil and boil for 1 minute. Remove from the heat, transfer to a heatproof bowl, cover and set aside for another 12 hours. Repeat the process a third time, until much of the syrup has been absorbed.
Preheat the oven to 150 degrees or place it on the warm setting. Line a couple of rimmed baking sheets with wax paper or parchment paper and place the drained chestnuts on the paper in a single layer. Bake for 1 1/2 hours or until firm but not dry. Set aside to cool. Transfer to a resealable container lined with wax paper and store at room temperature.
From Lucie Lehmann Snodgrass.
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