Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's chestnuts

There are not many things I can say about 2011 other than that it wasn't a very good year for me in many respects. I can't wait for it to end and for 2012 to begin.

I never do the whole 'resolutions' and 'looking back' kind of thing so I will spare you the trite speeches and grand declarations about the things I want to, will try to or never will change in the new year.

I am simply going to concentrate on chestnuts, mascarpone, savoiardi biscuits, brandy and what you can achieve by combining them together into a dessert. And that's an incredible chestnut tiramisu.

Yes, I'm aware that I have been posting a lot of sweets lately and no, I'm not turning this into a dessert blog. It's just that I'm in desperate need of sweet things in my life right now. Sweet, comforting and delicious things, and that's clearly what this tiramisu is.

Savoiardi biscuits, otherwise known as ladyfingers, are briefly soaked in a mixture of freshly brewed espresso coffee, sugar and brandy. I opted for Armagnac, a brandy made in the Armagnac region in the southwest of France, simply because that's what I had on hand, but the Greek Metaxa would do wonders too. Egg yolks are beaten with sugar to create a light and airy concoction, to which whipped cream and luscious mascarpone are added, followed by the chestnut purée.

Layers of plump, boozy savoiardi biscuits and sumptuous chestnut and mascarpone cream fill the glasses and are only separated by a light dusting of dark cocoa powder.
There may be many desserts with chestnuts out there but only few of them can achieve such a level of flavor complexity and yet be so simple at the same time.

Sweet, but not overly so, earthy, nutty and bursting with chestnut flavor, creamy but with a slight bite from the chestnut purée and positively elegant, this tiramisu is exactly what a New Year's dessert should be. Don't you think?

I'm wishing all of you a Happy New Year filled with health, love, good luck and happiness!

Thank you all for your friendship, love and support. They really mean a lot to me.

Chestnut Tiramisu
Adapted from here

Ideally, I would make my own chestnut purée for this dessert by roasting some chestnuts in the oven and then puréeing them, but quite frankly, store-bought chestnut purée is extremely good so I didn't bother doing it.

I used chestnut purée and not chestnut cream. What's the difference you might ask? Chestnut purée is cooked and puréed chestnuts, it is unsweetened and has a thick texture, whereas chestnut cream or crème de marrons is puréed chestnuts with sugar and vanilla, it is sweet and has (obviously) a creamy texture.

I used freshly brewed espresso coffee but you can also use instant granules. It's up to you.

As with all tiramisu recipes this one also has raw eggs. Make sure the eggs you use are as fresh as possible.
I want to remind you also that raw eggs should not be consumed by pregnant women, infants, the elderly and those whose immune system is compromised.

Yield: 6 small or 3 large glasses

3 large egg yolks, at room temperature
100 g caster sugar
130 ml cream, full-fat
250 g mascarpone
160 g unsweetened chestnut purée

250 g savoiardi biscuits (ladyfingers)
120 ml espresso coffee
35 g caster sugar
25 ml brandy of your choice

20-30 g Dutch-processed cocoa powder

Special equipment: stand or hand-held mixer, sieve for the cocoa powder

In the bowl of the stand mixer or in a large bowl, beat the egg yolks with the 100 g sugar on medium speed with the whisk attachment or with your hand-held mixer, until the mixture is white, light and fluffy. Add the chestnut purée and beat until incorporated. Because the chestnut purée has a thick texture, the texture of the mixture will be ever-so-slightly grainy after you beat it. The brilliant thing about this is that each time you eat a spoonful of the cream, you'll experience small chestnut-flavored bursts as you bite into the small granules.

In another bowl or in the bowl of the stand mixer (empty the chestnut mixture in another bowl and wash it), beat the cream on high speed with the whisk attachment, until it is thick. Add the mascarpone and beat on medium speed, until the mixture becomes creamy and fluffy.
Add the chestnut mixture to the mascarpone and cream mixture and mix it in gently with a spatula until incorporated, making sure it doesn't lose its volume.

Have your glasses ready to fill them with the components of the tiramisu.

In a medium-sized bowl, combine the espresso coffee with the 35 g sugar and brandy.

Take the savoiardi and start dipping them one by one in the liquid mixture and placing them at the bottom of the glasses. You might need to cut them in half to fit the glass. Add a layer of cream on top and then a sprinkle of cocoa powder. Continue in the same manner, layering the tiramisu, until your glasses are full. I made 3 large glasses of tiramisu.

Place the tiramisu in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving them.

They will keep in the refrigerator for 2-3 days, preferably covered with plastic wrap.


  1. What a glorious version of tiramisu which I was readily chose over the norm. I hope your 2012 gets much better and, dessert post are always awesome :-)

  2. What a most delicious chestnut tiramisu which I will make for Theofania. I wish you, Magda, all the very best for 2012 full of happiness, love, and above all health...may you be double next year this time!! My wife doesn't really mind if you write many desserts:-))

  3. I love this version of tiramisu; I have been looking wistfully at street vendors with their carts filled with chestnuts and this gives me the excuse I need to make tiramisu; a great version which cuts down on the sweetness and adds nuttiness. Have a great New Year 2012 and forget all the rest!

  4. Magda, I love the idea of adding chestnuts to tiramisu! You are brilliant! And, along with your other readers, I wish you the best year ever. You deserve much happiness as you bring so much of it to others! ~ David

  5. I have so enjoyed your blog this year and look forward to keeping up with you in 2012, which I hope is a year of upturns, laughter and continuing shares via your site. Your chestnut tiramisu is exceptionally beautiful and delicious sounding. I send you best wishes from a fellow blogger friend here in Nashville, Tennessee, USA.

  6. What a great dessert! And I agree with you a great recipe is much better than the whole looking back/forward thing

  7. Wow. I didn't think tiramisu could get any better, but it seems you've done it.

  8. What a gorgeous dessert and photos. I don't do resolutions either. At least not for New Years. Change comes about when it's time, not just according to the calendar. I hope your year is a much better one, Magda. I'm so glad to look forward to more of your posts, sweet or savory!

  9. Thank you all!! Happy New Year!!

  10. That is just gorgeous Magda!
    I know to what you are referring to and only time can heal the wounds.
    Life goes on and wishing you the most wonderful and joyous New Year, hugs, Ivy

  11. What an elegant dessert!
    Wishing you Magda mou,an amazing New Year filled with peace, love and happiness!

  12. Wishing you a very happy new year, may it be better than 2011 for you. This is a wonderful way to start celebrating. I love chestnuts.

  13. So elegant! I love tiramisu but haven't tried the chestnut version!

    Happy New year :)

  14. Lovely photos and a lovely dessert, I never tried it with chestnut, but I will the next time!

  15. I remember you had a great tiramisu' recipe! Do you care to link it up to my newest bloghop?

  16. Its one year later: new year's eve 2013. I had a can of chestnut puree and did not know what to do with it. Found this recipe, followed it carefully and the result its incredible. Its really really good.
    Hope this past year was better for you.
    Thanks for sharing.

    1. It's actually two years later. :) The past two years have been indeed better for me. Thank you so much for your comment and for your feedback about the recipe. I'm so glad you liked the tiramisu.
      I wish you a happy 2014!