chestnut tart from pierre herme’s plaisirs sucres
Chestnuts are the edible equivalents of wearing your favourite oversized sweater on a cold, rainy, dreary day. There’s just something really comforting and gut-warming about the way it gathers into a starchy, lush paste in your mouth as well as that mellow sweetness which quickly dissipates leaving behind a vaguely earthy aroma.
The recipe makes one 25cm tart. Use a tart recipe of your choice. Blind-bake the pastry dough for about 25 minutes or until brown.
300g cooked, shelled chestnuts
80g castor sugar
Melt the butter over low heat. Sprinkle the chestnuts and sugar over the butter. Stir constantly over medium heat until well caramelised. The book suggests heating it to the stage where the caramel forms a thin, crunchy layer over the chestnuts. I couldn’t get it to this stage so I just brought it off the heat once it was well browned. Try not to break any of the chestnuts while stirring but don’t worry if some of it gets mashed. Chop the caramelised chestnuts into chunky bits.
140g unsweetened chestnut puree
80g chestnut cream (approximately 50% sugar)
6 egg yolks
115g heavy cream
Cream chestnut puree, chestnut cream and butter until smooth. Stir in egg yolks, eggs and cream. Sieve before pouring it into the blind-baked tart shell. Scatter chopped caramelised chestnuts over the custard. Bake in a 180 degree celsius oven for approximately 10-15 minutes. It is ready when the middle jiggles slightly when prodded. Serve warm.
Chestnut cream is different from chestnut paste and chestnut puree - it is spread-like in consistency and typically comes in a deep umber shade. If you can’t find chestnut cream, you can make your own. Add enough sugar to either chestnut paste or chestnut puree to make a 50% sugar and 50% chestnut mixture. Add approximately 10% of the mixture’s total weight in liquid; use any liquid you want, I opted for an equal proportion of water and rum. Stir in the sugar and liquid until homogenised. Cook on low heat, while stirring, until the chestnut paste becomes darker in colour and takes on a sticky and glossy consistency. Resist the urge to turn the heat up; the chestnut paste will dry out and turn lumpy.
Do not over bake the tart! Although the photo in the book shows a totally solid set filling, I think the tart tastes better when the centre flows ever so gently like a slightly over done chocolate fondant. To get that consistency, I baked the tart until the centre is approximately 165 degrees fahrenheit.