It’s chestnut season again, a time of year food lovers always look forward to. From late September to December the simple addition of chestnuts enables us to give everything from soups to salads to desserts a velvety, dry-sweet festive lift.
Like fresh chestnuts (irresistible eaten straight from the shell while still warm) candied chestnuts, or marrons glacés, make a once-a-year appearance at Christmas and command special attention
Grown in Italy and the south of France, candied chestnuts are peeled then dipped in sugar syrups of increasing density before receiving a thick white-sugar coat. In some cases, they are individually wrapped and foiled to preserve their beauty and form and make wonderful presents. In keeping with the 18th century roots of La Maison Maille, candied chestnuts were adored by Marie-Antoinette, who would devour them in her boudoir, hence the name of this collection, Les Delices de la Reine. They first appeared at the Court of Versailles in 1667, thanks to the Sieur de Varenne who had the brainwave to cook chestnuts in sugar.
Elsewhere, candied chestnuts are something of an unsung kitchen hero. But look closer in gourmet circles and you will discover there is a devoted candied chestnut following. Discover for yourself why the humble nut garners admirers all over the world with these recipe and food pairing ideas:
Chestnuts and chocolate are natural friends, and the French and Italians adore them in an impressive dessert of puréed, sweetened chestnuts topped with whipped cream, known as Monte Bianco or Mont Blanc (after the highest mountain in Europe). There is no shortage of beautiful chocolate and chestnut winter dessert recipes. Tortes, cakes, mousses, brownies, creams, roulades, truffles, macarons, meringues, gelato, yule logs – take your pick and get baking with chestnuts.
Top a cheese cracker with some gently-melting Brie, smoky bacon and a candied chestnut.
Open a jar of Candied Chestnut Mustard or our Chestnut Honey Mustard and dribble a spoonful into cream cheese then serve with crackers or toasted pita bread. Exclusive for winter 2014, our new Candied Chestnut Mustard is presented in a chic gift box.
If you are looking for a uniquely seasonal recipe, fold Gingerbread, Chestnut Honey and White Wine Mustard into cream cheese. This classic from Alsace with spicy gingerbread sweetened with honey adds a memorable spicy twist to sweet and savory dishes
For a gourmet taste sensation, drizzle our Mustard with Candied Chestnut over slices of pineapple, mango or any other favorite tropical fruit. A creamy hint of vanilla and chestnut shavings add a 'je ne sais quoi' to every mouthful.
Add some festive spirit to any biscuit or cookie by adding chopped candied chestnuts to the dough.
Drop some chopped candied chestnuts and a dash of cinnamon to your bowl of breakfast oats for a festive start to your day.
Crumble roasted chestnuts warm into cooked potatoes with a lashing of extra-virgin olive oil and sage.
Chestnut and orange are natural partners in a marriage of flavors. Add Maille Candied Chestnut Mustard and the taste is sublime. Slather Perigord Chestnuts, touch of Orange and White Wine Mustard to add glamour to a roast turkey or chicken sandwich.
The sweet, deep flavor of the pumpkin with the sage and chestnut makes for a hearty seasonal soup or risotto.
Perigord Chestnuts, touch of Orange and White Wine Mustard makes a secret power-ingredient in sophisticated stuffings and terrines, infusing them with a delicate nutty taste harmonising with a zingy citrus note.
For more ideas on what goes well with chestnuts, book a flight to Corsica in December where the smell of nuts roasting at the annual Chestnut Festival in Bocognano has become a must-go event for up to 30,000 food-lovers. From cakes to jams, the rich brown nuts and their derivatives are passionately prepared in imaginative ways and paired with complementary wines and hors d’oeuvres.