**This contest is now closed. Winner is Lauren K! Lauren is an American expat in Germany and after inspiration from us bloggers will launch her own food inspired blog in the coming year.
Last week I planned, cooked, and photographed a lovely Chestnut Baklava. I used a gorgeous Italian chestnut honey for the syrup and a bit of cinnamon. It looked and smelled lovely. It was a recipe I thought of to honor one of my favorite holiday treats - marrons glacé, or candied chestnuts.
I thought my chestnuts would go so well sprinkled in between buttered sheets of paper-thin phyllo and soaked in chestnut honey. It was shockingly disappointing. Chestnuts are like treasured gold nuggets for me so I felt such anger and guilt that I used a whole bag of them for this failed recipe. I had also just been promised boxes of marrons glacés from Jeff de Bruges when they become available in late November, so I thought what a wonderful way to giveaway a box. The chocolates at Jeff de Bruges are quite good, but of all the chocolatiers and patisseries I've experienced, their candied chestnuts are the best! And while I can't give you a recipe for Chestnut Baklava, until I muster the courage to possibly lose another bag of these gorgeous things...
...you might win a box of marrons glacés! Jeff de Bruges uses the best Italian chestnuts from Turin for their candied chestnuts. These individually wrapped jewels are so special that each winter I contemplate getting my nails done in a Christmas red before I unwrap and savor each precious stone in complete silence.
The chestnuts won't be delivered to me till the first week of December so leave a comment by November 30th, 2010 to be entered. Once I receive the box of jewels I will mail them out to the random winner in December. This contest is open to everyone and if you tweet marrons glacés giveaway from @gastro http://tinyurl.com/33nmomc it will count as a second entry.
Even though the Chestnut Baklava didn't work out I do have a tasty recipe to share. These walnut nut cups are a must for the holiday season. Instead of pumpkin breads for gifts to take home after Thanksgiving dinner, my guests are getting a few of these.
- 1 1/2 cups coarsely ground walnuts
- 1/2 cup butter, melted and slightly cooled
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cup dark corn syrup
- 2 Tbs maple syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp salt
In addition to the above ingredients you will need enough pie dough for two double crusted 10-inch pies, or four 10-inch pie rounds.
This recipe makes approximately 48 nut cups, when using a mini muffin tin. Use a good quality, non-stick muffin tin.
Make your favorite pie dough. Divide by four and leave to rest in the fridge. This can be done a day or two ahead.
Using a food processor, coarsely ground walnuts to get 1 1/2 cups. Just a few pulses should do it - you don't want walnut flour, but small pebble size bits. Set aside. Melt 1/2 cup butter and set aside. In a mixing bowl whisk together all the remaining ingredients till combined. Whisk in the butter. Divide the mixture evenly in half, placing each half in a heavy-duty quart sized plastic bag, or two pastry bags with medium tip (clip or bend the end so no mixture leaks). Refrigerate overnight if possible (this step is not critical, but the cooled mixture is a bit thicker and easier to manage when filling the little cups). You could also use a small ice cream scoop to fill the cups, but I find using a plastic bag to be the quickest and easiest.
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Roll out one of the portions of pie dough to 1/4 inch thick. Using a biscuit cutter cut small circles to fit in the mini muffin tin with a tiny bit of pie dough exposed outside the edge of each muffin circle. Gently press the rounds into a non-stick mini muffin tin, making sure no air bubbles are trapped underneath. Use your pastry bag or snip the corner off the plastic bag and fill each cup, nearly the entire way up. If you have refrigerated your dough it will be separated. Gently massage the bag to recombine everything.
If there are a bigger bits of walnut that struggle to come out, do not squeeze the bag! You will be tempted to, but do not! If you do, you will end up with a colossal mess. It is much better to force the bit of walnut by breaking it between your fingers. With these small nut cups it is not necessary to blind bake the cups before adding the nut cup mixture.
Put in preheated oven and bake for about 10 minutes. The mixture will puff gently, filling the cup entirely. If you use a non-stick muffin tin and a bit spills over the side you have nothing to worry about. They pop out easily. If you are using a not using a non-stick muffin tin, fill your cups a bit less. The cups are ready when the filling is set and the pie dough has barely turned golden on the edges. Let cool in cups and when they are cool enough to handle remove and eat! Once completely cooled keep in an airtight container for up to three days.
P.S. Emails have been sent to those who wanted to participate in the International Cookie Recipe Exchange hosted by Lori from Fake Food Free and I. If you haven't yet received an email and asked to participate please get in touch!