I can’t believe it’s already November 18th! I’ve been missing this place, to record what I’ve been doing and thinking. Life takes over sometimes, and my sacred place to be me usually is the first thing that gets squeezed out. But I’m muscling my way back in! Just like the acupuncture appointment I made last week, I’m trying to take back the time for me. It’s always the hardest space to carve out, isn’t it?
A while back, a pal of mine gave me a bunch of chestnuts from her lovely old chestnut trees that grace her backyard. A picnic table is under them, lights are strung from them, and food drops from them. Their beauty and worth are not without trial though. In the fall, the chestnuts and their mace-like sheaths litter the backyard, which becomes a mine field for a few weeks a year. I hope you don’t step on one in your bare feet!
A little about chestnuts: there aren’t many American chestnut trees around due to a chestnut blight long ago. You might be seeing Asian chestnut trees. And don’t mistake a horse chestnut for a chestnut! One of the problems that chestnuts from someone’s backyard might have is worms. It’s sort of gross–these industrious worms will bore a perfect circle out of the nut and any plastic container you have them in so they can return to the soil to make more worms. The trick, I have found is to boil them for twenty minutes in 120 degree water. It truly works.
Once you’ve de-wormed your nut, you can move on to other more pleasant tasks, like making sweetened chestnut paste. And then onto this simple yet elegant chestnut tart that needs no crust, and has no added sugar because the paste is sweet enough. It tastes like a very soft chocolate chip cookie. That might not be the best press, but think comfort and refinery at once.
Chocolate Chestnut Tart
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Have ready a buttered 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom.
1 stick of butter
1.5 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
½ teaspoon of baking powder
Put chestnut paste and butter (chopped in chunks) in a food processor and puree until smooth. Add chocolate, and process until smooth. Then the baking powder and eggs, again until smooth. Pour batter into the tart pan (optional: sprinkle some coarse sugar on top before baking; it creates a bit of a crunchy shell.) Bake for thirty minutes. The batter will have puffed up and will be set in the center. It will deflate a bit upon cooling. Serve as is, or dress up with a bit of powdered sugar or creme fraiche.