With holidays literally only weeks away, and chestnuts being a major A-lister among the nut family (cough the christmas song cough) I knew I had to incorporate these hunks of shells into my dishes. Or at the very least, attempt.
I remember my first experience with ever trying a chestnut. To me they only existed in songs and movies. Not real life. We cracked walnuts around the holidays. That’s about as fancy as my family got with the nut tree. The only time of year we had to blow the dust off of Grandmas possessed by the devil – looking nut chomper (Nut Cracker).
Any who I was in Istanbul on my way to tour the Sultan Ahmed Mosque (more famously known as The Blue Mosque) when I passed by a street cart filled with these (what I thought at the time to be steroid sized hazelnuts) roasted chestnuts. The smell was so overwhelmingly delicious making me ache for the coconut candied nuts that you can find on almost every street corner in NYC come the holidays. I wanted them all, at once, in mah belly. Kestane kebab’ is what the street vendor said they were. I shrugged my shoulders and purchased a bag of them. First was the texture, it wasn’t like any other nut I had ever tasted, it was soft, almost like a baked potato soft, and then came the flavor which was sweet with an underlying nutty fullness. Love at first bite.
So that brings me to todays recipe. As I was about to purchase an obscene amount of cranberries one of the grocery stock people at Schnucks (yes, the name is spelled correctly) had a cart full of chestnuts. Tis the season. I immediately removed the cranberries and replaced them with pounds of chestnuts. Probably over did it
a lot a little, and not going to lie I have one of the biggest belly aches of my life right now from over eating these nut jobs.
I had remembered a recipe from a while back that I had seen in Food & Wine magazine for Chestnut Chocolate Mousse. I knew I needed to recreate this dish and adjust it to fit my personal palette and my own cooking methods/experiences.
My recipe calls for fresh chestnuts – NOT vacuum sealed – pre roasted – chestnuts. I know it takes a little bit more love and time to slit the shells, roast & crack your own nuts but trust me, the flavor alone is worth it. And having a home smell of freshly roasted chestnuts ain’t so bad eitha. Plus there is no good replacement for fresh.
I like to serve my mousse with a little bit of freshly whipped cream and chocolate shavings (that I got from scraping the bowl that the chocolate had been melted in). This recipe makes about 5-6 large servings or about 10-12 smaller servings (powerful flavor. small portions is best in my opinion).
Another great thing is that this chocolate mousse and roasted chestnuts dessert can be made a day ahead and kept in your fridge until ready to serve (except do not add the whipped cream or shavings until right before). I think it is the perfect ending to a Holiday feast and would highly recommend adding it to your menu. PLUS it is very difficult to mess up. Impressively easy!