I love many things in life, and this dessert sprung out of a an old love I have for chestnut puree and a new addiction my awesome aunt Agnes nourished this Christmas by giving me a really cool little book.
Everytime I go home, I ask my mom for a few favorites: boudin noir, blanquette de veau, viande des grisons, creme Danette or Mont Blanc, and "creme de marrons". On its own, it is just allright but when used in custards, cakes and mousses its flavor really shines through and the cream takes on a velvety smooth, somewhat chocolatey taste. We did not eat it in great quantity in our house thus it truly felt felt special when I could have some.
This Christmas, I dragged B. into the Grande Epicerie at Le Bon Marche where we stocked up on fine chocolate, Mariage Freres tea, jams and syrups and of course a jar of chesnut cream.
It had to be kismet or fate because while I was perousing a couple of French magazines on the plane home, looking for ideas for an upcoming dinner party I found a promising recipe for a "bavarois" using the chestnust. The picture looked nice enough, but after reading the above mentionned book I could not stop thinking about using glasses as a plating and serving medium.
They turned out perfect. The flavors were great and "grown up", the presentation allowed me to let the kid in me play around a little. "Verrines" are great for layering but the different types of glasses you can use really help support your imagination and creativity.
I have to warn you that you might see a lot more of this type of dessert on this blog because I have caught the bug! I have to mention Mercotte for starting this! Her blog is full of delectable creations!
Chestnut Bavarois, adapted from Avantages magazine:
Serves 6. Prepare it the day before so that it has time to set and allow the flavors to develop.
2 egg yolks
200 ml milk (about 3/4 cup)
30 gr. sugar (1 oz)
1 packet gelatine
200 gr. chestnut puree
2 Tb. cognac
200 ml. heavy cream
Sprinkle the gelatin over some cold water (I used 1/2 cup). Set aside.
Make a creme anglaise: Heat the milk until very hot. In the meantime, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until thick and pale. When the milk is hot, slowly but steadily pour it over the egg yolks and continue to stir until well incorporated. Put the mixture back on the stove over medium low heat and continue to cook and stir until the cream coats the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat and stir in the gelatin and the cognac. Mix well, add the chestnut puree and let cool to room temperature.
Whip the heavy cream to a stiff mousse and when the chesnut cream mixture is cool but not yet set, fold the whipped cream carefully.
At this point you can line indivual molds with plastic wrap and divide the mixture among them, refrigerate and when the mixture is set, inver the molds and remove the plastic, decorate and serve.
I took six small glasses and divide the mouse among those. I topped each with slightly sweetened whipped cream, a dash of cinnamon, a couple of chocolate cookie sticks and star fruit.
One of our guest could not make it to the party, so B. and I shared the extra one the night after. When I say share, I mean I let him have a spoonful and the rest was for me…he is the one who did not want to put the jar of chestnut puree in the suitcase in the first place (was getting heavy…but what’s one more jar?) but now could not stop wanting more…