HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Making Marrons Glacés

I have long been a fan of Marrons Glacés, that wonderful confection made by candying chestnuts. I was turned on to them when I was working at a university hospital and a student returning from a stint in France brought back some; they were amazing.

Unfortunately they seem to only be made by the Europeans, and getting them in Canada is difficult, if you want them done right. I have had some vacuum-packed ersatz ones where the sugar had crystallized, and they were horrible; those I found in an Italian deli here. I had a bunch that were imported (or was that deported?) from France that were not so good.

Then one magical Christmas my SIL, who lived in Geneva, got me some amazing ones (3 kg of them) from Confiserie Rohr in Geneva; I was in heaven. I got some again last Christmas, and am awaiting some again this year.

A few years ago I decided that it was time to make them myself, so I tried, using a recipe I found on the Internet.....and failed miserably. The first problem was peeling the darn things, but that was minor. The major problem was cooking the things without them breaking up. Then if they did not get cooked enough they would get hard. I tried 2 or 3 times, then gave up.

Well, it's time to gird my loins and try again. One recipe I saw made me say, "Why did I not think of that?" - steaming the chestnuts so they do not break up. It was a recipe from, of all places, New Zealand. The rest of the recipe seemed too simplistic.

I am basing this attempt on the following recipe:


Unfortunately (not for me) it's in French. I started the process today. I steamed the chestnuts for 90 minutes, till they seemed tender enough. I consider it a good sign that a few broke. I then made the syrup and put the chestnuts into it.

The battle continues.......

I will update this thread as I progress. Any contributions (in posts or marrons glaces) would be much appreciated.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. When all other search efforts fail, I turn to my favorite series of books, the old Time/Life "The Good Cook". In the Candy volume there is a recipe for Marrons Glaces from Ginette Mathiout's book "La Patisserie Pour Tous". It seems to be a rather involved process with many steps. Here are the steps, paraphrased, and if you want me to post the entire recipe, I'll be glad to, but I thought it might be useful to compare her directions with yours.

    1. Boil peeled chestnuts in water to cover for about 40 minutes, or until a needle inserted into the base of the nut enters without difficulty. Drain.
    2. In a separate saucepan, dissolve sugar and glucose or corn syrup in water, and cook over medium heat until the syrup boils and gets smooth, to 215 degrees F (101 degrees C). Pour into a heatproof bowl and cook. When the syrup is completely cold add the nuts and steep for 24 hours.
    3. Put the bowl of syrup and nuts in a water bath and gradually heat the syrup. Remove the nuts when syrup reaches boiling point. Cook to 216 degrees F. Remove bowl from water bath, return the nuts to the syrup and let them steep for 12 hours.
    4. Remove nuts from syrup, drain them, and put the bowl of syrup back into the water bath. Cook syrup to 220 degrees F (104 degrees C). Remove bowl from water bath, return nuts to syrup, and steep for another 12 hours.
    5. Remove nuts from syrup, return bowl to water bath, and cook syrup to 223 degrees F (106 degrees C). Remove bowl from the heat, immerse the nuts in the syrup, and steep for another 12 hours.
    6. Remove the nuts from the syrup, return bowl of syrup to the water bath, and cook syrup to 227 degrees F (108 degrees C). Immerse the nuts in the syrup and let them steep for another 12 hours.
    7. Drain the nuts and let them dry in a wire basket or wire racks. Dry them first in a dry room for 12 hours, then dry for another 12 hours in a warmer place such as an unlit oven with a pilot light.

    According to the recipe headnote, the sugar concentration in the syrup is increased by the repeated boiling of the syrup without adding additional sugar. It cautions: "each time the syrup is boiled, it must be cooked to a slightly higher temperature; however, do not let the syrup reach soft-ball stage...(because at that concentration)...the syrup will merely glaze the nuts without penetrating them."

    This seems like quite an ambitious undertaking for a home cook - at least a four day process! Good luck and let us know how they turn out.

    4 Replies
    1. re: janniecooks

      Thanks for posting the recipe. If mine does not turn out I will ask you to post the entire recipe. I'm not giving up without a fight !

      I wonder why she uses a water bath. It is usually used to moderate the heat and make sure the temperature is even, but during the boiling process the nuts are not in the water. I wonder if it is to ensure that the soft boil stage is not inadvertantly reached, but I think that would be easy to monitor via a thermometer. I will monitor the temperature.

      It is curious that she says you should boil the syrup to a higher temperature each time. It seems to imply that if you do not do that you will not increase the concentration, which is not true as each time you boil it the emission of steam ensure less liquid in the bowl, hence a higher concentration of sugar.

      It will be interesting to do a side-by-side comparison with a Rohr marron.

      Thanks again.

      1. re: souschef

        I think you misread what I posted. Boiling the syrup to a higher temperature each time is indeed done to increase the sugar concentration. And I'd guess that the use of a waterbath is to help bring the syrup to the proper temperature slowly enough to allow you to remove it when the proper temp is reached. In other words, it should make it easier to control the temperature. Again, good luck to you.

        1. re: souschef

          "It is curious that she says you should boil the syrup to a higher temperature each time. It seems to imply that if you do not do that you will not increase the concentration, which is not true as each time you boil it the emission of steam ensure less liquid in the bowl, hence a higher concentration of sugar."

          Increasing temperature of the syrup *is* a sign of increased sugar concentration. If the temperature of your syrup hasn't risen, you haven't boiled off a significant amount of moisture.

          1. re: MikeG

            Good point, but I am just following the French recipe and adding sugar.

            I tasted one of the marrons today (a broken piece), and it seems promising. I have enough that can taste one a day - it's a one-week process. I can hardly wait!

            BTW from my taste of the marron it seems like it is missing salt - and I am not a salt fanatic.

      2. Wishing you best of luck with this, I can't wait to hear all about it having tried once and failed miserably. (Also drifting along pleasurably on thoughts of 3 kg of marrons glacés, my idea of paradise.)

        2 Replies
        1. re: buttertart

          If mine turns out I will again try the Roger Vergé concoction of marrons with chocolate and cognac. Now THAT, my dear buttertart, is truly heaven.

          1. re: souschef

            Bites of marron, dark chocolate, and a sip of Cognac, right? Sublime.

        2. Alors mon tres cher souschef? Update?

          8 Replies
          1. re: buttertart

            SIGH ! I tried a few of the marrons on successive days, and they seem to be getting harder, which tells me that they were not cooked enough even after 90 minutes of steaming, so they are not absorbing the syrup.

            i am busyy this week, so will start again next week. This time I am going to boil the darn things, by making cheesecloth bundles each containing a few chestnuts so that they do not break up - this is going to be a labour of love !

            I also sent both recipes to a master confectioner from France who makes them, and she is supposed to give me a few pointers. I am awaiting her response.

            This time I refuse to give up !

            1. re: souschef

              Such determination! Hope it works out, these do seem to be beyond the pale in terms of difficulty.

              1. re: souschef

                A perhaps heretical thought: you might try using some of the Chinese chestnuts in foil pouches? They are already cooked to about the texture of a prepared marron glacéand would be a lot less hassle than starting from the fresh ones (which I've given up on, after too many nicks and scalded fingers).

                1. re: buttertart

                  Heresy indeed !

                  I am used to Chinese water chestnuts, which are crunchy. I am not used to any that are cooked to the texture of prepared marrons glacés.

                  I peel fresh ones while wearing rubber gloves as I found that the chestnuts make the hands grimy; no protection from nicks, but I am VERY careful.

                  1. re: souschef

                    There are some very nice ones imported from China (where they're used in savory dishes, such as red-cooked chicken with chestnuts, which is delicious). They're packed in metallized plastic pouches along the lines of what "craisins" come in, usually with a jolly cartoon chestnut on the front of the package. They are available in Chinese/Asian markets in NYC for under $1 for 150g or so and I would expect same in Montréal. Just thought they would save you a step or two as they are already shelled and skinned. I would prefer not to be burned at the stake for suggesting them however!

                    1. re: buttertart

                      "I would prefer not to be burned at the stake for suggesting them however!"

                      I don't believe in creating martyrs. Imagine worshipping at the altar of buttertart !

                      Thanks for the info. I will look for them in Chinatown. It may be worth a shot to use them, at least in savoury dishes - I make a great stuffing using chestnuts, pork, and wild mushrooms.

                      1. re: souschef

                        Now the flames they followed buttertart...(pace Leonard Cohen)
                        The really are quite nice - I use them in a lot of things - they make a great cream soup for example, especially good this time of the year.

                2. re: souschef

                  I have the same book as JamieCooks, Ginette Mathiot writes prior to the recipe a little bit about the recipe and the process;

                  "Each time the syrup is boiled, it must be cooked to a slightly higher temperature; however, do not let the syrup reach the soft ball stage(both this method and the method on pages 50 & 51 can be used for crystallizing fruit) - at which concentration will merely glaze the chestnuts without penetrating them.

                  The method on pg 50-51, the cook adds more sugar, shows using pineapple, but the idea is to use the sugar/boil steep method to penetrate the fruit. And each time they repeat the process they add additional sugar, 1/4 cup. makes sense to me to add more sugar, rather than boiling the orginal sugar down, and down again to increase concentration, anyway for this purpose. Ohin her recipe, she starts with 2 cups of sugar and then cooks it down, where on page 50-51 the cook starts with 1 1/4 cups of sugar and through the process adds 1/4 cup and on tenth day, 1/3 cup.
                  Kind of confusing information and perhaps different results.

              2. Just saw a brief mention by amyzan on the making candy for Christmas thread of candying some chestnuts. Asked for more details. Hmm...

                1 Reply
                1. re: buttertart

                  I will be buying more chestnuts tomorrow, to try the whole process again. From some of my reading, there are a few different types of chestnut, some of which are better for candying. I can only work with what is available. I will be trying a new source tomorrow, with Italian chestnuts.

                  I just received the Mathiot book - saw it on Amazon going cheap.

                  I`m beginning to think that I need the device to measure the specific gravity of the sugar syrup rather than just going by temperature. I did see one recipe that referenced it.

                  Darn! This is getting to be an obsession. But then, I live to eat !

                2. The Purolator guy delivered to me today one kilo of marrons glacés from Confiserie Rohr in Geneva. They are sublime ! I now have my benchmark.

                  Tomorrow I start the frustrating process all over again. I hope I succeed before my benchmark is all gone - they are supposed to be consumed within 10 days.

                  9 Replies
                  1. re: souschef

                    I too, tried for years to make marrons glaces. I had two chestnuts that showered us with more than abundant nuts every year. I can't begin to tell you how many recipes and methods I went through without obtaining more than a few whole nuts per batch. While they were never visually beautiful, they were still tasty. My theory is the beautiful (pricey) batches of whole nuts you can purchase are the survivors of the commercial batches.

                    As an aside, after my family had gorged on roasted chestnuts, various chestnut recipes, and I had blanched and frozen a supply, I would take my grill, a couple bushels of nuts, and paper bags to the local farmers market and sell hot roasted chestnuts to the patrons. Set up at 8 am, usually sold out by noon, and home by 1 pm with a jingle in my pocket!

                    1. re: souschef

                      Insert jealous look here. I recently came across a box of ones a friend had brough back from Izmir a while back - a bit dried out but otherwise ok. Planning to use them in a shortbread variation based on the King Arthur Flour "Cookie Companion" recipe for freckled shortbread, which calls for2/3 c dried fruit or crystallized ginger processed with a cup of the flour (2 1/3 c flour total in recipe) - using the marrons. (I posted the ginger recipe on the "What Christmas cookies are you baking this year" thread.) Will let you know how they work out.

                      1. re: buttertart

                        I never bake cookies at Christmas; I just bake cakes for specific occasions. I do have a sister who bakes a slew of cookies, and since I am her favourite (and only) brother, I get a batch every year.

                        Looking forward to hearing how your cookies turn out.

                        I'm still trying to figure out if morwen's post should make me give up or try even harder with the marrons. I think trying harder is more fun !

                        1. re: souschef

                          I think possibly one of Pepin's techniques books he has a recipe Ill try and find.

                          1. re: souschef

                            Interesting about the cookies, expected you would be baking up a storm.
                            Morwen's probably right - high cost would be because of small numbers of perfect specimens produced. Of course the déchets must go into other applications. In any case, keep your stick on the ice, I'm pulling for you, we're all in this together.

                            1. re: souschef

                              Oh! Don't give up cuz if you figure it out I'm going to try your technique! Each year we add more trees to our tiny orchard and chestnuts are scheduled for next spring. last year we planted two Korean Stone Pines for pine nuts/pignolias. They're doing great! Who knew?! They grow where white pine thrives and those are the trees we're removing as our orchard expands. At $24.99/lb here, I'm really looking forward to backyard pine nuts!

                            2. re: buttertart

                              Shortbread cookies are what I place in our B&B suites for guests. Do post your results. I'm always looking for new shortbread variations.

                              1. re: morwen

                                Will do. Haven't tried it yet bcs was making Stollen this weekend.

                                1. re: morwen

                                  They came out extremely well, delicious with a glass of Sauternes after Christmas dinner. You could do the same thing with the Turkish ones in syrup in jars that don't cost the earth - leave them out on a rack to drain and dry a bit.

                            3. Sigh! My last attempt at Marrons Glacés failed once again. I tried a new recipe and it failed.

                              I think I have learned enough from my past attempts to be successful in my next (he says foolishly!), so, on to the next attempt. I will start again within the next few days.

                              In the meantime, my hoard of marrons from Rohr is dwindling :(

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: souschef

                                I have never even had marons glacés, but am following your progress with interest. Thanks for sharing!

                              2. SUCCESS AT LAST !!!

                                I finally managed to make marrons glacés ! What was different this time? I was given a crucial piece of information that I have not seen in any recipe. I got this from Nada

                                Fares, "Le Maitre" at the wonderful chocolate shop called "Le Maitre Chocolatier" in Montreal. She makes, among other things, amazing chocolates and a to-die-for orange cake.

                                Thanks Nada !!!

                                The information was as follows: "To cook the marrons, cover them with water, put them on medium heat and let them cook. The water must be right under boiling point but never

                                boil, very important. Use a toothpick to verify if the marrons are cooked or not. And after you can start the "confisage"."

                                This is very different from every other recipe I have seen; they all tell you to boil the chestnuts, which I find breaks up a lot of the chestnuts, even before they are cooked,

                                in many cases.

                                How do they compare with the marrons from Rohr? The chestnuts I got from my local Italian deli in the 'burbs are the type called "castagni", whereas the ones used by Rohr are

                                the type called "marroni", which are larger. An online article I was reading specified that the ones that should be used are marroni. Per the article, castagni are too small,

                                whereas marroni are big, plump and voluptuous (really!). I found that the ones from Rohr seemed to be "meatier" than the ones I made, but the ones I made were smoother in

                                texture. It could just be the difference between the two types of chestnut.

                                Yesterday I went downtown to my favourite vegetable shop in the market to ask the owner if he could get me some marroni. On entering the shop I was faced with a big basket of

                                chestnuts with a sign proclaiming, "Marroni, the best Italian chestnuts". And, yes, they were big, plump, and voluptuous (love that word !). The castagni I bought were a bit

                                past their prime, but these marroni seemed really fresh. I bought a bunch, took them home, and started the process. Unfortunately, after about 90 minutes I left the pan alone

                                too long, and returned to find the water bubbling merrily away, toying with millions of broken pieces of chestnut. So, I will have to start again (maybe later this week). I was

                                amazed at how large the unbroken ones got after absorbing water.

                                Speaking of process:

                                I found that it took me over 2 hours to cook the chestnuts. I had to play with the heat a bit to maintain the water under boiling point. When testing the chestnuts for doneness,

                                if the toothpick met with resistance and then the chestnut broke, I cooked them longer, until that no longer happened. The toothpick must pass through cleanly. Breakage was

                                minimal, unlike the boiling method.

                                Another important point is that once the chestnuts are cooked, they must be handled as little as possible as they are very fragile; so they must be cooked in some form of

                                perforated container such as a wire basket or pasta insert, which can be lifted out with the chestnuts in it. Serendipitously I have a pasta insert that fits into another pan

                                such that the bottom of the insert is about 1/10th inch above the bottom of the outer pan, insulating the chestnuts from the pan that is directly on the heat; the insert sits

                                too high off the original pasta pan to be used with the pasta pan to candy the chestnuts.

                                I bought about 2 lb of chestnuts. After peeling them, accompanied by much cursing and swearing as I burnt my fingers, mangled some chestnuts and discarded some in frustration as

                                I could not peel them, I started the process. Note: I bought a smaller quantity of chestnuts than specified, and found that the amount of syrup was just right. I don;t think

                                that the recipe makes enough syrup for all of the chestnuts specified. I would double the syrup if using 1500 gm of chestnuts.

                                Put the chestnuts into the pasta insert, put the insert into the pan, and cover the chestnuts with cold water such that there is about two inches of water above them (this is

                                necessary as there is much evaporation), then put the pan on medium heat until the water almost reaches boiling point. Check the pan frequently; you may have to raise or lower

                                the heat. When they are done per the instructions above, lift out the pasta insert and set the nuts aside.

                                The candying process I am following is per the link (unfortunately in French). Note that it omits to mention that you have to first have to cook the chestnuts. I modified some



                                After draining and cleaning the pan, put 1.5litres of cold water into the pan and add 750gm of sugar. Put it on medium heat and stir till the sugar is dissolved. Then raise the

                                heat and bring the syrup to a boil. Let it boil for two minutes, then plunge the pasta insert into the pan and turn down the heat to low. After 1 minute remove the pan from the

                                heat and set it aside. Note: I did not bother using a vanilla bean.

                                Do the following each day for the next 4 days: Remove the insert from the pan and set it aside. Add 125gm of sugar to the syrup, stir to dissolve, and bring it to a boil. Take

                                the pan off the heat and plunge the insert into the pan. Leave it for 24 hours.

                                On the next day repeat the process, but this time add 250gm of sugar to the syrup. Note: I did not bother to use rum.

                                On the last day remove the insert from the pan. Remove each chestnut very gently and set it on a cooling rack to dry. You are supposed to let them dry for 2 hours, but I find

                                that this dries out the marrons (I tasted some every day and know that they should be very tender and not dry at all); I would dry them for maybe 30 minutes. Then take about

                                half cup syrup, nuke it till it is warm and add 100gm icing sugar. Stir to dissolve. Then, using a pastry brush, paint each chestnut with this glaze. Put into a hot (400 degree)

                                oven for 20 seconds to set the glaze.

                                The marrons are now ready to be eaten. I now realize why they are so expensive !

                                Attached are some pictures

                                33 Replies
                                1. re: souschef

                                  My apologies for the bad formatting of the last post. I created it in Notepad as I find the CH "editor" frustrating to use at best. It got mangled when I copied it over, and the CH editor rejected my attempts to fix it.

                                  1. re: souschef

                                    Wow, such dedication! But I do know the feeling when you just HAVE to figure it out. One question. I understand you are simmering peeled chestnuts, but can't tell your method for peeling them. Are you cutting an X in the skin, roasting briefly, then peeling? If so, since temperature seems to be so critical, can you tell us how long and at what temp you are roasting?


                                    1. re: sbp

                                      I do not cut an X in the skin as that is a dangerous process, and I am rather attached to my fingers. There is a device called a "Chestnutter" that does that safely, but I have a special chestnut tool with a serrated edge that cuts a series of holes in the flat side of the chestnut.

                                      I do not roast them to peel them as roasting dries them out. I cover them with water and bring it to a simmer for a few minutes. You know that the temperature is right when the chestnuts are too hot to handle with your bare hands. I now use heavy-duty latex gloves. I find that the best way to remove the peel is to make a slit in the outer skin, then rip off a small piece, exposing the inner skin. You then use a knife to lift the inner skin. If you can then grab hold of both skins, the nut is easy to peel. Sometimes it works and at other times its a PITA to get the inner skin off.

                                      I peel them about 10 at a time. If you threw all of the chestnuts into the water at the same time, the ones you peeled last would start to cook before you peeled them, and so the the actual cooking would be hard to control as some would be done before the others. Peeling chestnuts to use them whole is something I do not relish.

                                      1. re: souschef

                                        Thanks. If only there was an easier way. Burnt, nicked fingers every time I have to peel some.

                                    2. re: souschef

                                      WOW! There's hope still! I've never seen that crucial step in a recipe either. I don't know what the variety of chestnut we had at our old house was because they were there when we moved in, but the chestnuts were huge, plump things. I'll be on the lookout for Marroni when we go to purchase our new trees. Thanks for all the tips!

                                      1. re: souschef

                                        Congratulations! How do they taste in comparison to the purchased ones?

                                        1. re: buttertart

                                          There you are ! I was wondering where you had got to !

                                          The taste and texture were somewhat different from the purchased ones, and I think that may be because they were different types of chestnut.

                                          The purchased ones had a meatier, denser texture than the ones I made, which were smoother and seemed a bit sweeter. In terms of taste, the purchased ones seemed to have a more pronounced chestnut flavour. The ones I made were delicious, nonetheless.

                                          Once I get the courage to repeat the whole week-long process with Marroni, I will post again on the results. I need to do that soon, while they are still relatively easy to get and fresh.

                                          So when are you going to attempt them now that the secret has been laid bare?

                                          1. re: souschef

                                            (Was in Paris and London for a week, still catching up on CH!) I'm glad you finally cracked this. Would very much like to try your method (perhaps with the precooked Chinese ones) sometime soon.

                                            1. re: buttertart

                                              Paris? Wish I had known - you could have brought back some Medici dragées for us all :)

                                              So what DID you bring back in your comestible bag ? I always carry a comestible bag when I travel.

                                              1. re: souschef

                                                We too. This time, macarons made by the friend to whom I always bring the industrial-sized bag of chocolate chips (he was a trainee in the US and developed a taste for chocolate chip cookies - apparently "real" chocolate chips are available sporadically, in small bags, and are expensive): pistachio, raspberry, chocolate, and salted caramel, all good, the salted caramel mind-blowing; 2.5 kg of French cooking chocolate (part was in exchange for the chips); a bar of milk chocolate with almonds made by a meilleur oeuvrier de France which was a present from another friend (haven't tried it yet); an inscribed small cookbook by the owner of a small Basque place (les Bugnes on rue du Pot au Fer Paris 5e) we love. From London, the River Cottage Everyday cookbook (and a list of others to get) and one of those duty-free packs of mini Crunchie bars (you can get them in NY but not fresh). Is there a theme visible here? What dragées?
                                                Edited to add: also a whole slew of French cooking magazines, from household to haute - intended to get UK ones but time and pounds ran out.

                                                1. re: buttertart

                                                  Wow!! Quite a loot bag !!

                                                  What is "cooking chocolate" ? I am always puzzled by the term.

                                                  Dragées are candied sugared almonds. I came across some at Williams-Sonoma last Easter, and they were wonderful, the best I have had. They came from Medici in France.

                                                  1. re: souschef

                                                    Loot + gastronomic memories, the intangible but unerasable souvenirs.
                                                    Cooking chocolate: I know, I use all manner of chocolates in baking. This is made by Nestlé, and comes in 200g bars. Medium cocoa content, nice flavor, not Bernachon by a long shot but very good in cakes etc.
                                                    Will look for the dragées - are they opaque like Jordan almonds? The dragées I know are the silvered ones that my mom used on her royal-icinged fruitcake (and occasionally on other baked goods for "fancy").

                                                    1. re: buttertart

                                                      I used to use Callebaut chocolate exclusively in baking, until I discovered Felchlin (Swiss) - much better. They have a variety of source countries and cocoa content. I buy them in 2 kg bars or callets from a store in Montreal. My favourite chocolatier in Montreal uses Michel Cluizel.

                                                      The dragées are opaques. Here's a link. The only ones I have had are the Lerida.

                                                      1. re: souschef

                                                        I'm more than willing to believe the chocolates you use yield a superior product, but I'm not willing to lash out that much money for chocolate that's not being eaten straight as such. Relic of my child of parents who lived through the Depression upbringing. The dragées look divine (love almond anything), will be on the lookout for them next time!

                                                    2. re: souschef

                                                      PS: the artisan milk chocolate bar (Jacques Bellanger) is the best chocolate confection I've eaten since ones from Bernachon - the chocolate is divinely mild but amazingly complex and it's crammed full of wonderful almonds that sort of burst out of the chocolate in your mouth. Unbelievaby good.

                                          2. re: souschef

                                            Thank you, souschef, for those detailed instructions and tips. Very helpful! The marrons in your photo look lovely.

                                            I'm attempting to make them using your method—currently on day 3—and I'll be sure to report how they turn out. I'm using a stainless steamer instead of a pasta insert, but it works well (I'm doing a smaller batch) . So far the only issue I have is that they are so completely cooked that a third of them fell apart (well, into two or three pieces) on their own, without any agitation. I never got to the point at which an inserted toothpick didn't make a piece of chestnut fall apart: first the toothpick would crack it, so to speak, and then the toothpick would simply make the piece crumble. I cooked them over two hours, as you did, searching for the point at which the toothpick would meet no resistance. My other half, whose love of chestnuts and marrons glacés is intense and long-standing, thinks they are too soft. He thinks one should be able to take a bite of a marron glacé without the rest of it crumbling in one's hand, and he is skeptical that mine will meet that test.

                                            A question: in your experience, is it necessary to cook them to this crumbly stage? Do they become firmer as they absorb the syrup? Do they turn out poorly if cooked just until they are reasonably soft (they reached the point at which I'd call them "thoroughly cooked" after 30-45 minutes.)

                                            Since I've started this process, I came across the description of the process that Clement Faugier uses: http://www.clementfaugier.fr/fr/v4/v4...

                                            CF manages to candy them in 48-72 hours. If they can do it, why can't we? CF says the temperature oscillates, but I'm guessing that there's more low-temperature cooking and less room-temperature steeping than in the recipe you linked to. I'm wondering if cooking them at a very, very low temperature for, say, 12 hours at a time, followed by 12 hours of steeping, for a few days, would do the trick. I happen to have a single induction burner that's very handy for these things, and I could put it on the lowest setting and leave it there for several hours at a time. (Also, I love those tulle pouches they use—notice how they're long and skinny, and hold about ten at a time!


                                            Another difference is that CF uses some amount of glucose syrup in addition to sugar; since I have that here (from a bout of nougat making), I'd like to experiment with that as well.

                                            Let me know if you have any further thoughts or discoveries, and I'll do the same.

                                            1. re: lavagirl

                                              Hi Lavagirl. In my experience the chestnuts do not get softer during the candying process, so they should not be too firm when you start. I think it would be better to make a large batch than a small batch as you have to sacrifice quite a few while testing them, if they crumble during the test you have gone too far.

                                              Glucose is a good idea as I think it is used to prevent crystallization of the sugar.

                                              You could always try the CF method of making them in 72 hours, but I'm always leery of recipes that seemingly use shortcuts as you never know what secrets were not revealed.

                                              1. re: lavagirl

                                                I am not a native French speaker, but from my translation of the Clement Faugier process, I think that you have all missed the point.
                                                When done on a commercial scale, they do not heat the marrons again once they have gone through the initial cooking process.
                                                To impregnate the softened marrons, they steep them in sugar syrup (at ambient temperature?) and put the vessel under vacuum in order to complete the candying. There is no mention of heating the product.
                                                This process is obviously not easily replicated on a scale suitable at home, and even CF have wastage with broken marrons. That is why the founder devised the pureed products, in order to sell the less-than-perfect results.
                                                Souschef's method sounds really good for home production, and I have just bought some giant chestnuts, so am going to give it a try!
                                                Hoping that they turn out as good as yours!

                                              2. re: souschef

                                                Amazing! Now you need to use a temperature-controlled waterbath (see the Chow Tip on hacking a slow cooker) next time and you will be in business.

                                                And I'll be first in line to come try them out! LOL

                                                1. re: TheSnowpea

                                                  A temperature-controlled waterbath is a great idea, except that there are two problems:

                                                  1) Slow cookers are usually very small, so I would not get many chestnuts into one without crowding them, and believe me, you don't want to have to cook just a few at a time.

                                                  2) it would be hard to get a perforated insert that would fit exactly into the slow cooker.

                                                  Before my friend Buttertart says "Youre an engineer, figure it out!", I should look at at the Chow Tip to see if I can adapt it to a hot plate (the owners of my apartment would not appreciate my tampering with the stove, I'm sure. Now if I had the shekels I would just order one from a laboratory supply company.

                                                  If i do figure it out there will be a few marrons labelled "For Snoopy", er, sorry, "For Snowpea".

                                                  1. re: souschef

                                                    The Right Honourable Buttertart is right: Figure it out! There are much larger slowcookers to be had and they are rather cheap (Zellers? Sears? Wallymart?)

                                                    And the hacked slowcooker can be used for all sorts of fun stuff. Like Onsen Tamago...


                                                    (I married a scientist but he never lets me play with his lab equipment :pout:)

                                                    1. re: TheSnowpea

                                                      Thank you for that. I just checked it out, and it will definitely work. I just need to find all of the components now. The video really should have come with a caution, though, that this should not be attempted if you do not know what you are doing.

                                                      Consider yourself marked for a delivery of marrons.

                                                    2. re: souschef

                                                      Did either of you break down and get the book "Cooking for Geeks" yet? I had a sample of it on my Kindle (good for novels, forget about cookbooks on it) and just may have to buy it. I'm a somewhat attenuated geek.

                                                      1. re: buttertart

                                                        I'm a full-fledged geek, but have a moratorium on cookbooks. Besides, I expect that Cooking for Geeks probably starts with the very basics, such as how to boil water and how to make toast, which I don't think I need.

                                                        Now "Cooking for Dummies" - maybe I should buy that

                                                        1. re: souschef

                                                          Actually it's more fun than you'd think. Maybe from your library?

                                                          1. re: buttertart

                                                            No harm in checking it out at the library, I guess.

                                                  2. re: souschef

                                                    Souschef, you already know this recipe works. I'm just confirming it. :-)

                                                    For my creative final for pastry school, I made (among other things) a Nesselrode pudding garnished with candied chestnuts. In June. I used frozen marroni chestnuts and followed your directions, except I did use vanilla in the syrup and rum in the glaze. My chef, who is French and who loves marrons glacés, pronounced them "perfect." He never says anything is perfect. :-)

                                                    Of the original pound, I got about 60 finished ones; I'm guessing 10 to 12 broke.

                                                    Thank you for posting these excellent instructions! And to everyone else who's thinking about doing this: This is your recipe!

                                                    1. re: linguina

                                                      linguina, thanks for the feedback. I'm glad it worked out so well for you. You're lucky that you got so many finished ones; I had more breakage than finished ones.

                                                      1. re: souschef

                                                        The finished ones were truly delicious, nonetheless. I've got a candy bee in my bonnet these days, I should try these this fall.

                                                        1. re: buttertart

                                                          You really should, buttertart. The babysitting and testing for donenes when they are being cooked is a royal PITA, I kid you not, but it's all worth it. I may well hack a slow cooker, per previous posts, before my next attempt - playing with electricity is SO much fun !

                                                          1. re: souschef

                                                            Maybe I'll give it a go with some Chinese precooked chestnuts. !!!

                                                            1. re: buttertart

                                                              Pas d'allure!

                                                              That's cheating, Buttertart, but let us know how they turn out.

                                                  3. First, souschef, congratulations on your success. I've never tasted a glaceed chestnut (or a roasted one, either) but now I'll make it a point! The pics are beautiful, shiny.
                                                    I'd like very much to try to candy , glacee some green walnuts this summer. They are hard green things--picked in summer BEFORE they get the familiar walnut shell. One of the recipes I have uses a crockpot--which keeps that long low low simmer going.
                                                    I wonder if a crock pot would be useful for your chestnuts? Another just boils.
                                                    I also have the Time-Life Candy book with the Marrons Glaces recipe, and see other instructions for candying cranberries, coconut, pumpkin, all sorts of things!

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: blue room

                                                      Interesting crockpot link. The crockpots I have seen tend to be on the small side, though. As well, I wonder if you can use an insert in a crockpot - the insert is a must with chestnuts.

                                                      Thanks for the link. I may try it to candy cumquats - another love of mine. A restaurant at which I had a nice meal had a candied cumquat garnish with the main; it was delicious. They did not have anything of interest to me for dessert, so I asked if they could do a special - vanilla ice cream with cumquats, and Grand Marnier drizzled over. It was wonderful.

                                                    2. Now that it's chestnut season again I thought I'd resurrect this thread as I plan to start making marrons glacées again soon. I was informed yesterday that there are huge ones available at the market.

                                                      5 Replies
                                                        1. re: buttertart

                                                          Souschef, not to sound mean, but I have read your post over the challanges you've endured in making marron glace and I would like to know if you french pastry skills are up to speed?
                                                          I use a simple recipe: http://www.epicureantable.com/recipes...
                                                          It takes me closer to 6 days, although i don't think in terms of days or temperature, I just repeat the daily process of gently heating the sugar water and chestnuts over and over until the syrup has been completely dissolved. I avoid stiring and keep the lid on at all times.

                                                          1. re: Soupbowl

                                                            "I would like to know if you(r) french pastry skills are up to speed?"

                                                            Curious question, particularly since it really is not pastry, but more candy. If you have to ask the question, though, I guess my skills are questionable. I have never taken a course in pastry or in candy-making. I'm not a chef of any kind; I'm an Electrical Engineer.

                                                            I looked at your link, and at several other similar links, and they all tell you to boil the chestnuts for so many minutes, and so on. I tried those recipes and found that the chestnuts broke, and if I cooked them for less time they were not up to my standard from the confectioner in Geneva; they were hard, not tender (as they should be). As I stated above, I then talked to a professional chocolatier from France about them, and she told me they should NOT be boiled. I tried that, and it worked, finally - perhaps not quite as good as the ones from Geneva, but a lot closer than before.

                                                            1. re: Soupbowl

                                                              Suggest Soupbowl have a look at souschef's contributions, up to and including (successfully) challenging me to a Gateau St-Honoré, only one of his spécialités de la maison, prior to making such assumptions/accusations.

                                                              1. re: buttertart

                                                                Thanks for the kind words, Buttertart.

                                                        2. I just found out from my usual supplier that he does not get the large "marroni" chestnuts (that I use to make marrons glacés) before December. I don't know if it would be worth it to make them with the smaller ones which are available. I'm sure buttertart will say go ahead so you can compare ;)

                                                          16 Replies
                                                          1. re: souschef

                                                            You think? I can wait, if I have to.

                                                            1. re: souschef

                                                              Souschef, it is almost December! I was hoping to try making marron glacés too and I am glad I found your report. It will definitely save me a lot of heartache.

                                                              Do you mind sharing the name of your marroni supplier? Everything that I have seen this week has been too small and old.

                                                              1. re: hala

                                                                Hala, you're in Montreal, right? I'm surprised you can't find a supplier at the Jean-Talon or Atwater markets, I'm in Ottawa, and here's a 411 link to my supplier. BTW if you are interested in fresh truffles you can get them there as well.

                                                                Just don't buy them all before I get there ;)

                                                                1. re: souschef

                                                                  Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

                                                                  I will look at MJT first. I have not usually had good luck with chestnuts at marche Atwater.

                                                                  1. re: hala

                                                                    You should try the chestnut ice cream at Havre aux Glaces at MJT. I tried unsuccessfully to replicate it, but that was just one attempt. I'm trying to decide if I should use fresh chestnuts or canned purée de marrons or crème de marrons.

                                                                    1. re: souschef

                                                                      Oh my goodness, you just reminded me of ice cream heaven at Berthillon one Christmastime, coupe with marron glacé, prune with Armagnac, and vanilla ice creams...would make a nice holiday dessert.

                                                                      1. re: buttertart

                                                                        That sounds like a nice Christmas dessert. Home-made vanilla ice cream in an almond tuile cup, with a marrons glacé on top. Served with hot chocolate in a cappuccino cup; of course it has to be made with real chocolate and whole milk only - none of that cocoa nonsense.

                                                                        I'm always amazed at how much better than the commercial stuff home-made ice cream is. In most cases it's even better than the stuff from the local gelateria.

                                                                        1. re: souschef

                                                                          I love to make it but seldom have room in the freezer for the canister that has to get frozen...

                                                                          1. re: buttertart

                                                                            I guess those TV dinners take up too much room in your freezer :)

                                                                              1. re: buttertart

                                                                                Buttertart, is your freezer full of UFO's? - Unidentified Frozen Objects!

                                                                                1. re: souschef

                                                                                  It's full of sour cherries that M is obsessed with - gets quarts and quarts, pits them, and squirrels them away for the non-sour-cherry season. And meat, butter, etc. Not TOO many UFO's!

                                                                    2. re: hala

                                                                      Hala, I just called the supplier. They will have marroni next week. They are located right downtown, in the Byward Market. While you're there, stop for lunch/dinner at Domus Café.

                                                                      1. re: souschef

                                                                        Thank you souschef! however, i am going to try loblaws here in montreal before I make a trip to Byward Market. My two kids are just a tiny bit sick which means they can't go to daycare :(

                                                                      2. re: hala

                                                                        Hala, I just bought some marroni at Loblaws, for $3.99/lb. They were just marked "Chestnuts Large, Product of Italy". They were not marked "marroni", but by now I know them when I see them!

                                                                        I bought 50, for $8+. I also bought some rubber gloves; they do nasty things to the fingers if you don't use gloves.

                                                                        The process starts tomorrow. I can hardly wait to eat them !

                                                                2. Well, I made a batch using souschef's method! Cooking them in hot-but-not-boiling water was a great tip. And using my stainless steel vegetable steamer made lifting them in and out of the syrup easy.

                                                                  Interesting: All the recipes I have come across for marrons glacés recommend increasing the concentration of the sugar syrup over the course of the candying process, but they differ in the concentration that they recommend. Some recipes suggest boiling to 220, 224, and finally 228 degrees F; others have you add sugar. (As someone mentioned above, the temperature to which you boil a syrup, past 212 that is, corresponds to a specific concentration of sugar.) The candying recipe that souschef links to opts for adding sugar, but the final concentration is less than that of other recipes (I say this because after finishing the process, I boiled the syrup to 228, and it took me a little while to get it there). I don't have an opinion about whether a lower or higher concentration is better, but I note the difference.

                                                                  The results were good—certainly tasty and presentable. I plan to experiment with the process, however, because I would prefer them to be (i) a bit less sweet, (ii) firmer, and (iii) with a clear, less noticeable glaze, instead of the slightly milky-white icing sugar glaze that I ended up with.

                                                                  I'm not sure how to make them less sweet (I found the chestnut flavor overwhelmed by the sugar flavor); two obvious possibilities are to soak them for a shorter period of time, and to use a slightly less concentrated sugar solution. As for firmness, I will first of all try to find marroni next time (I made this batch with the common ones), and second of all experiment with cooking them somewhat less (I cooked them for two hours, and they didn't have that nice firm texture that store-bought ones usually have). I think I will also bother to wrap them individually in tulle or cheesecloth—too many simply broke into several parts, with no agitation at all. Finally, I think I'll experiment with a lighter glaze—either made with a lower concentration of icing sugar, or with a stronger sugar syrup. (I used 1/2 cup of syrup and 100g of icing sugar.)

                                                                  I found an old recipe from 1919, which I'm going to try next. Anyone know where to find marroni in Manhattan? (I assume many places have them, but if someone knows, that would be helpful!)

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: lavagirl

                                                                    Lavagirl, just going by their store in Napa, I suggest you try Dean and Deluca for marroni.

                                                                  2. Nursing tender fingers as I type this:

                                                                    I'm in the process of peeling chestnuts (I'd forgotten how much I hate it), and while doing so a few broke. I discarded the small pieces that broke off, but did not discard the chestnut from which it had broken off as it would be a good one to rest for doneness during the cooking process. Thought I should mention it as a useful tip to any other masochists going through the process.

                                                                    Back to burning my fingers.....

                                                                    12 Replies
                                                                    1. re: souschef

                                                                      Maybe you should wear gloves ;)

                                                                      I have two pounds of chestnut in the kitchen, Are they the same as marrons?

                                                                      1. re: trewq

                                                                        Hey Q, great to have you on this thread; it's been a long time since your last canelé post.

                                                                        I did think of you when I put on the gloves, but you can't work with oven gloves, so I used latex gloves. I should perhaps have bought heavy-duty ones - I have a huge blister on my left thumb :(
                                                                        Yes, marrons are chestnuts. Ideally you should use the larger ones to make marrons glacés. I certainly hope you do decide to make them, my canelé friend. A defferent challenge, but well worth it.

                                                                        Please post back here on your progress.

                                                                        1. re: souschef

                                                                          I recently got some thin garden gloves w rubberized palm and finger undersides, something like that should work? (News flash from the better late than never department.)

                                                                          1. re: buttertart

                                                                            Yes, that should work. I can't stress enough the importance of gloves.

                                                                            It also is important to pierce the skin prior to bringing the water to the boil as the water loosens the inner skin and that makes it easier to be peeled. I'm really amazed at how easy it is to peel some of them. As I said before, if you can grab both inner and outer skin together it is so much easier.

                                                                            1. re: souschef

                                                                              I've only ever cooked them from scratch a few times (the real obsession w chestnuts kicked in within the past 10 yrs or so, when the packaged ones were already available).
                                                                              They have raw peeled chestnuts in Manhattan Chinatown around Chinese New Year's - the vendors sit and do it on the sidewalk. Have not tried them though. Used to get the dried ones to make soup with in Chinatown too, they reconstitute brilliantly for soup.

                                                                              1. re: buttertart

                                                                                I've been crazy about chestnuts ever since the late 80's, when I bought Anne Willan's "French Cookery School" book and made her turkey stuffed with pork and chestnuts; my modified version also contains wild mushrooms (only the non-poisonous variety). At that time the only chestnuts available were raw and unpeeled. Considering how long I've been doing this, you would imagine that I would be smart enough to not burn my fingers. Some lessons we never learn!

                                                                                1. re: souschef

                                                                                  "Some lessons we never learn!"
                                                                                  I missed our conversations. So i thought i would jump in here.

                                                                                  Do you think they can be roasted in the fireplace? or do I have to boil them?

                                                                                  1. re: trewq

                                                                                    I too missed our conversations, so thank you for jumping in here.

                                                                                    You can roast them in the fireplace, which is something I have never done, so I don't know how easy they are to peel after. I imagine it is not difficult as roasted chestnuts are a popular treat this time of year.

                                                                                    I hear that there is usually a vendor selling roasted chestnuts in front of or around The Bay in downtown Montreal. If you need to know times I suggest that you ask on the Quebec board.

                                                                                    Glad to gave you back from the continuum, Q.

                                                                                    1. re: souschef

                                                                                      I have roasted them in the fireplace for many years. It's one of those things I look forward to. Do you have a fireplace?

                                                                                      There are a lot in chestnut vendors in NYC. I think they're pre-cooked and just heated in the carts. Just the smell of them reminds me of Christmas.

                                                                                      Have you tried wrapping them in foil after you boil them to let them cool before peeling? Or do you think they would get over cooked and mushy?

                                                                                      1. re: trewq

                                                                                        If I let them cool I would never be able to get rid of the inner skin. I find that the inner skin has to be hot and wet for me to be able to remove it. If I take too long to peel one, such that it cools down, the inner skin gives me a lot of trouble.

                                                                                        If anyone decides to follow the directions in soupbowl's link, please report back here on how they turned out.

                                                                                        1. re: souschef

                                                                                          We were in Chinatown today and vendors were out shelling chestnuts like mad - with paring knives. $4.00 / lb for the shelled ones.

                                                                                      2. re: souschef

                                                                                        Very easy to peel after roasting in the fireplace but only if you peel them hot.

                                                                                        I read somewhere that if you roast them you can wrap them in a towel and let them sweat for 5 minutes before peeling, but i have yet to try that method.

                                                                      2. My marrons glacés are well on their way. I just tasted what buttertart calls a "déchet", and it shows promise; it was nice and tender, and tasted good. They won't be ready till Saturday, though.

                                                                        This batch needed only about 90 minutes of cooking. A number of them look like they're going to break up. I may well go to my normal marroni supplier and buy some more, in case the supermarket chestnuts are the problem - incorrect handling.

                                                                        One thing I forgot to mention in my process is that each time after they have cooled I refrigerate them. Any opinions on whether they should or should not be?

                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                        1. re: souschef

                                                                          I call them by their proper name - Google "déchets de marrons glacés" and you will find recipes using them (including one under Recettes de ma Grand-mere" that I can't get to load but that looks wonderful.
                                                                          Worked for a French company that imported all kinds of stuff, mostly luxury products. One of the customers imported candied fruits of the highest quality, among them 1 1/2 in or larger Cognac-laced marrons glacés - that I was given kilos of when they risked going out of date - and packaged déchets of same for use in patisserie. The term stuck with me. The particularity of French is quite nice.
                                                                          (Also used to get large slabs - 5 kg or so - of all varieties of couverture chocolate the same way - grand luxe et volupté, no calme though, it was a very stressful job).

                                                                          1. re: buttertart

                                                                            The first picture, showing the marrons I made (during the process) should explain why there are recipes for déchets. Sorry the picture is a bit out of focus.

                                                                            The second picture shows the number of whole marrons I got out of the 50 I bought (well, a dozen or so got discarded right at the outset).

                                                                            The third picture shows a closeup. I took a couple to the chocolatier who gave me the crucial tip on how to cook them, and she declared them very good, after I told her I wanted her honest opinion on them.

                                                                            Time to make more.

                                                                            1. re: souschef

                                                                              You really know your way around this confection. No wonder they cost the earth if there are that many casualties.

                                                                        2. I saw the first chestnuts of the season in the grocery store today - $5/lb. They were not marroni, and some of them were anemic, but I plan to return and pick through them to find the plump, firm ones. Then comes the long, frustrating process, but .......

                                                                          Marrons glacés here I come ♪

                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                          1. re: souschef

                                                                            I am not a native French speaker, but from my translation of the Clement Faugier process, I think that you have all missed the point.
                                                                            When done on a commercial scale, they do not heat the marrons again once they have gone through the initial cooking process.
                                                                            To impregnate the softened marrons, they steep them in sugar syrup (at ambient temperature?) and put the vessel under vacuum in order to complete the candying. There is no mention of heating the product.
                                                                            This process is obviously not easily replicated on a scale suitable at home, and even CF have wastage with broken marrons. That is why the founder devised the pureed products, in order to sell the less-than-perfect results.
                                                                            Souschef's method sounds really good for home production, and I have just bought some giant chestnuts, so am going to give it a try!
                                                                            Hoping that they turn out as good as yours!

                                                                            1. re: theoldgranary

                                                                              Please let us know how yours turn out. Pictures would be nice too.

                                                                          2. I'm in the throes of making another batch of marrons glacés. My supplier of marroni told me that he will not have some till January, but he did have some other large Italian chestnuts. I bought 100 for $34. Unfortunately they are not the best; they seemed very dry, and right off the bat about 20 of them got discarded (rotten, impossible to peel, etc.).

                                                                            They should be done in 48 hours. I expect lots of déchéts, and will be surprised if I get 12 whole ones.

                                                                            I bought some rubberized gloves from a hardware store, and they worked well to protect my lily whites.

                                                                            I found that the chestnuts with one flat side were easier to peel than the spherical pigeon-breasted ones.

                                                                            I did not discard the less than perfect ones; instead I used them to test for doneness.

                                                                            This time I used vanilla from Manila and will use rum fron Newfoundland.

                                                                            1. I just learned a valuable lesson (should have known better!) about making these darned things: you cannot buy 100 chestnuts and hope to make a large batch, as by the time you get to the unsullied ones on the bottom you destroy a lot on the way, including the ones on the bottom.

                                                                              I started with 100, discarded about 20 right off the bat, and ended up with 11 marrons glacés (I have no shame, reporting this here). Of those 11, six were testers that were less than perfect, so I ended up with five (count 'em, FIVE) perfect marrons glacés. The déchéts are truly delicious. I plan to purée them, combine them with cream, and use it to stuff éclairs. But that will have to wait; Santa got me an early gift of a cough and cold, damn the old gent.

                                                                              This time I wanted to make them a bit less sweet, so I omitted one of the 125gm sugar additions. They are better with the recipe as it.

                                                                              Now to wait for my supplier to get me some marroni.

                                                                              My apologies for treating this thread like my personal blog, but I thought others could have the benefit of lessons learned as a result of my screw-ups.

                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                              1. re: souschef

                                                                                Guess you're not exporting any this year! What a labour of love.

                                                                                1. re: buttertart

                                                                                  Believe me, I wish I had enough to export!

                                                                              2. Thanks for all the research to come up with what looks like a great recipe. We have a chestnut orchard here in Florida. They trees are still quite young, but we have a few that are loaded, so there will be a bunch of nuts for me to try out recipes. A few are very early this year due to all the rain we had. What I found in regards to peeling them, is that if they're fresh (1-2 days) and after soaking them in cold water for a couple of hours, they can be peeled quite easily raw. No burned fingers. Just take a small sharp knife to them and start at the pointed end down the flat side. Maybe soaking drier ones longer will do the trick for them as well. No need to take off the inner skin, just nick it lightly, boil the nuts for 2-3 mins, and it will come off easily, or cook longer if you heat them to below boiling temp.

                                                                                8 Replies
                                                                                1. re: Swissophie

                                                                                  Please report back here on how they turn out.

                                                                                  Thanks for the tips on peeling them.

                                                                                  1. re: souschef

                                                                                    Reporting back :).

                                                                                    The first time I made 50 chestnuts of which 21 came out alive and well. I never had marron glaces before, so my guess is that the ones that one could eat by just squeezing with the tongue, that felt like chestnut puree on the tongue, are the ones people prefer? My tongue and stomach can't handle that much sugar, so personally I much prefer Vermicelles (sweet chestnut puree), eaten with heavy whipping cream (picture all the way at the end). But my kids love them, and I was curious whether there was not something that made them not fall apart so easily.

                                                                                    So I did some more research, and found a recipe on a Spanish site, and bingo! With these instructions, not only did no chestnuts fall apart, quite the contrary. We have some nuts that are naturally like in sections, and fall apart while peeling still in the almost raw state (4 out of 100). This recipe like glued them together. The processing time is only one day and they are being boiled! It's quite amazing, really.

                                                                                    There are two tricks to this. One is that the chestnuts are being cooked with the addition of BAKING SODA (sodium bicarbonate), and the second one is that they are being tied into GAUZE. Not a single nut fell apart after 2 hours of boiling them in sugar syrup (!). Some were still slightly harder than others, and they differed in colors. Some where very dark while others were still quite yellow. But color is not an indication of softness, as often a yellow one was totally tender while a dark one was not. I attribute this to the differences in nuts. The ones used were picked up on different days and kept in the fridge until there were enough big ones. I assume that some of them were slightly drier. Also they ripen differently from tree to tree. Some burrs open while the nuts are still basically green and then ripen, others shed the burrs unopened with ripe nuts inside. Or maybe it is that the cooking time, temperature and quantity of baking soda need to be tweaked a bit.

                                                                                    I took pictures as I went along (below, numbered), to show you the process. So the first thing is to soak them in water for at least two hours. In Europe they soak them up to five days, the first hour is in hot water to kill any weavel eggs. After soaking I peeled them raw, then boiled them in water for 5 minutes (size of the nuts is 25/pound), put pan in the sink and added cold water until I could touch them without burning my fingers, just left them in the water until all were peeled. Some just fell out of their skins. I started with 100 nuts and ended with 96 (sampling in between is a must :) ).

                                                                                    (pic 1) To peel raw chestnuts, insert knife at the tip of the nut on the flat side, push in underneath the shell as far as it will go, and cut toward the outside and other end in a rounded motion, then just strip away rest of the shell in sections always starting at the tip toward bottom. It will get bigger pieces off the farther you can push the knife underneath the shell. It took me 40 mins to peel the 100 nuts, and 65 mins to take of the inner skins.

                                                                                    (pic 2) Tie the chestnuts in gauze as per pictures. They come in 4x4 inch and different plies. You can find them on eBay. Open the gauze up and cut into squares, then fold in triangles. Put the nut at the corner and roll up toward the long end. Twist the resulting ends a couple of times and tie in a double knot. It took me a little over an hour to do this.

                                                                                    (pic 3) Now bring water with 1 tsp/liter of baking soda to just below boiling. Add nuts, bring back to where it wants to start boiling on medium high, and then let cook for 10 minutes. Drain the nuts, and repeat this procedure 2 more times, always discarding old water, adding fresh water with 1tsp/liter of baking soda, etc. The pictures show the thus cooked nuts.

                                                                                    Then it goes into sugar water (1kg sugar/liter of water). Boil syrup for 10 mins, add the drained nuts. Boil slowly (not roaring) for 30 mins. Take off from heat and let rest for 15 mins (in syrup). Repeat this procedure 3-4 times, depending on the size of the nuts, and what your sampling and toothpick test reveal.

                                                                                    (pic 4) These pictures show two of the 4 nuts that broke after taking off the inner skin. I've added a wire tie to them to mark them, as I wanted to see how they turned out. The other pics show that I was able to handle them with out breaking them after the boiling in syrup. They were like glued together.

                                                                                    (pic 5) Shows the done marron glaces. The first picture is against a white background, thus the chestnuts seem darker, while the second is against black, so they seem a bit lighter. Their true color is somewhere in between, light brown. I like the lighter once better. They are mostly soft, but not quite as sweet.

                                                                                    (pic 6) Vermicelles: 800 grams of raw chestnuts or 725 grams peeled. As the chestnuts here are pureed, you don't need them whole. So the easiest way to peel them is to cut them into quarters, the first cut not quite through so that you can turn the nut easily to make the second cut. Boil them in water for 5 minutes, put pan in sink and let cold water run through them until they don't burn your fingers anymore. Many nuts will just have fallen out by this time so that you only have to sort out the shells. This is especially true if you let the cut nuts dry a bit over night. They'll shrink somewhat and will come out much easier, but they need longer to steam later. Steam the peeled nuts for 20 minutes, and press through potato ricer. While they are steaming, boil 200ml of water with 100 grams of sugar into a syrup of half the volume (ca. 135ml). Add this syrup with a tsp. of vanilla extract (alternatively you can boil a vanilla bean in the syrup) still warm to the pureed nuts and mix well. Put in fridge until cold. Press through potato ricer onto meringue or ice cream, or both, and top generously with heavy whipping cream :).

                                                                                    I will try to merge the above recipe with your recipe here, but it'll have to wait until next year.

                                                                                    I hope my wording is clear. If not, just ask.

                                                                                    1. re: Swissophie

                                                                                      Wow! Thanks for the information on the gauze/soda; I had heard about the gauze technique before, but not the soda. I will try that the next time.

                                                                                      You use 1kg of sugar/l of water, whereas I use 1.5 kg/1.5 l, so the concentrations are about the same.

                                                                                      I find it interesting that you put them into sugar syrup before they are fully cooked, and cook them in the syrup.

                                                                                      1. re: souschef

                                                                                        My uneducated guess is that the soda makes the nuts porous and absorbing the syrup, which then makes them "sticky" so they won't fall apart that easily, and the gauze will guarantee that they will hold together mainly in the beginning of the cooking process, until they are thoroughly "glued"...But cooking them in syrup really does soften them with this method.

                                                                                      2. re: Swissophie

                                                                                        THANK YOU Swissophie!!!

                                                                                        I tried your method today, and the technique worked beautifully; out of my test batch of 24, only one broke. Another turned very dark, but I suspect that it was a bum chestnut.

                                                                                        Peeling this batch was unusually easy; they got nekkid very quickly, more so than any other batch I've made. Note: as much as possible I remove the outer and inner skins at the same time as it's easier that way.

                                                                                        I used two boils in sugar syrup. The chestnuts cooked all the way through, with minimal resistance to a toothpick.

                                                                                        I tried some wrapped in a single layer of cheesecloth, and others in two or three layers; it did not make a difference.

                                                                                        Taste & Texture:

                                                                                        While the chestnuts did get cooked all the way through, I had the impression that the sugar syrup was on the outer layer, but did not permeate all the way through the nut. This makes sense as the steeping process was minimal compared to the classical one. The marron was missing the usual unctuous, voluptuous texture; it was not as rich. That said, it's probably perfect for someone who likes a less sweet confection.

                                                                                        For my next attempt I will employ my usual method (as I prefer that texture), after first wrapping the nuts in cheesecloth and following your baking powder step.

                                                                                        Thanks again, Swissophie !

                                                                                          1. re: souschef

                                                                                            I took three marrons to a store of professional chocolatiers (for their opinion), and explained that this was a shortcut process. They all enjoyed them. The store owner indicated that she prefers the less-sweet result of the shortcut, but also indicated that according to her husband (Der Meister), candying is a process that takes at least a week.

                                                                                            Speaking of Meister, I recently discovered, to my sorrow, that my favourite chocolate shop in Montreal (Le Maitre Chocolatier) closed down. Wish I had her recipe for orange cake!

                                                                                            I just tasted two more marrons (they all mostly disappeared in my tasting). The first surprised me; it was small and almost perfect. The second was larger and did not get cooked through.

                                                                                            Buttertart, I hope you do get into this, and post your results here.

                                                                                            1. re: souschef

                                                                                              I would love to. I'll first have to find some nice chestnuts...