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Chestnut Crème Brûlée for the Holiday

Chestnut Crème Brûlée

Chestnut Crème Brûlée means I’m practicing Thanksgiving one more time. Or maybe I mean Christmas. Either way this luscious dessert is a sweet way to end a holiday meal.

When I developed this chestnut recipe I assumed it would be a part of a holiday meal. But why are chestnuts so associated with holiday meals? Can’t we eat creamy Chestnut Crème Brûlée any time of the year?

Well thanks to a French product known as Creme de Marrons we actually could make Chestnut Crème Brûlée any time we felt like it. But we usually don’t. We usually wait until November rolls around. The first of November is now the “official” gateway to the holiday season. Do you remember when it was the day after Thanksgiving? That seems like such charming old tradition now, doesn’t it? These days once the “-ber” months hit, we immediately get bombarded with the lights, decorations and (oh yeah) the extended store hours. The very stores responsible for making the first of the last part of the first of the “-ber” months (September) into the new “gateway to the holidays”. Somehow their plan worked and now we all know that the “-ber” months mean chestnuts and mistletoe. Thanks in a large part to the infamous The Christmas Song it’s gotten difficult to separate chestnuts (or Chestnut Crème Brûlée) from Christmas. They now go permanently hand in hand (in hand).

Of course part of the reason we eat chestnuts (and Chestnut Crème Brûlée) in the “-ber” months is because that’s when chestnuts are in season. Chestnut season in North America runs from October to December. The very same “-ber” months when all those store hours are extended, hmmm. That’s probably unrelated…

There is a sweet secret weapon however. Creme de Marrons (chestnut spread). It’s a very common snack in France, but it’s almost impossible to find in Los Angeles. I was sent a tube straight from Paris by *Try The World. An innovative resource for all sorts of interesting products you may or may not be familiar with. Having a tube of French Creme de Marrons around the house means I needn’t rely on the”-ber” months when I’m craving a little sweet sophistication in the form of Chestnut Crème Brûlée. GREG

Try The World- Chestnut Crème Brûlée

*Try The World selects and delivers the finest gourmet products from the greatest cities in the world, right to your door. Subscribers receive a curated box with the best gourmet and cultural finds from a different city every 2 months at their doorstep.

Crème de Marrons Chestnut Crème Brûlée

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 8Source Adapted from Sarah Landrum, New OrleansPublished
Creme de Marrons

Ingredients

  • 4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 vanilla beans (split in half lengthwise)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 12 large egg yolks
  • 78 gram Creme de Marrons (about 2/3 cup)
  • 1 pinch kosher salt
  • 8 tablespoon Turbinado sugar (divided)

Directions

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

In a small saucepan set over medium heat, combine cream, vanilla bean, cinnamon sticks, and sugar. Bring to a simmer, remove from heat, and cover. Let stand 15 minutes, then remove vanilla bean and cinnamon sticks.

In the container of a blender, add egg yolks. Turn to low speed, and slowly pour in cream mixture. Add the creme de marrons and salt; blend until combined.

Divide chestnut mixture evenly between 8 (6‑ounce) ramekins. Place ramekins in a baking dish, and fill dish with water until about halfway up the ramekins.

Bake until custard is set, about 45 minutes. Carefully remove from oven, let cool to room temperature in water; remove from water and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

Position oven rack 6 inches from broiler. Preheat oven to broil. Top each custard evenly with 1 tablespoon sugar. Broil in groups of 4 until sugar is melted and
lightly browned, about 5 minutes. You may alternatively use a small blowtorch to individually brown each of them.