If you want to make a decadent, luxurious treat this winter, whip up a batch of marron glacé. These ultra-sweet, nutty treats have roots in France and northern Italy, where they're enjoyed around the holiday season.
Marron glacé are quite expensive to buy, but you can make delicious ones yourself for a fraction of the cost and they'll taste even more wonderful than anything you can buy in a store.
To make marron glacé, the chestnuts are cooked and soaked in syrup several times to infuse them with flavor. Over a few days, they soak up all the syrup, then are dried out in an oven. It'll take about three to four days to make homemade marron glacé, but it's well worth the effort! Here's what you need to know.
Marron glacé are candied chestnuts. This incredibly popular sweet treat has roots in France and the north of Italy, which are renowned for their high-quality chestnuts.
Marron glacé have a dusty brown appearance and a heavenly soft, tender texture. Despite being labor-intensive, making marron glacé at home is incredibly easy, so why not give it a try?
The best chestnuts for marron glacé are large, high-quality chestnuts. Italy is world-famous for its excellent chestnuts, and if you're able to find them, Italian chestnuts are undoubtedly the best. Look for castagne or marroni.
You'll need a little patience to make marron glacé at home, but it is worth it! Start by boiling the chestnuts and cooking them for 10 minutes. Drain the water from the chestnuts, then peel off the thin skin. Removing the skin is easiest when the chestnuts are hot.
Next, combine the sugar, 2 ½ cups of water, and vanilla in a pot. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly to help dissolve the sugar. Cook it for about 5 minutes, or syrup forms. Stir in the chestnuts, and let the syrup come back up to a boil. Keep stirring the chestnuts in the syrup for about 10 minutes, then pour everything into a container. Cover the container loosely with some cling film or a paper towel.
Now it's time for you to be patient – you'll need to leave the chestnuts to soak in the syrup for 12 to 18 hours. After the time has passed, boil the mixture again for a few minutes, then pour the chestnuts and syrup back into the container and cover them again for another 18 to 24 hours.
Repeat the boiling and leaving the chestnuts to soak process three to four more times, or until all of that sweet, delicious syrup is thoroughly absorbed by the chestnuts. When the syrup is gone, place the chestnuts on a baking tray.
Heat your oven to 250F. Put the chestnuts into the oven and turn off the heat. Leave the chestnuts in the oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour to dry out. Voila! Perfect marron glacé to give to loved ones, or keep for yourself!
Don't worry if some of the chestnuts break apart while you're candying them. Save them as a treat for yourself and your family and use the whole ones as gifts for your loved ones.
Enjoy marron glacé as a treat with a cup of tea or coffee.
It's easiest to peel the chestnuts when they're hot.
Make sure you use fresh chestnuts to make your marron glacé.
You can add other flavorings to make different variations of marron glacé. Try using fruit brandy such as pear, plum, or cherry brandy, or use Calvados or rum.
Keep your candied chestnuts in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to 3 weeks.
Put the chestnuts and enough water to cover the nuts into a pot. Let the water come to a boil, then cook the chestnuts for 10 minutes.
Drain the chestnuts.
Remove the skin from the chestnuts.
Place sugar, 2 ½ cups of water, and vanilla into a pot. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Cook for 5 minutes, until it reduces into a syrup.
Add in the chestnuts, stir, and bring the mixture back to a boil.
Cook for 10 minutes, stirring regularly. Transfer the chestnuts and syrup to a container. Loosely cover it. Soak the chestnuts in the syrup for 12 to 18 hours.
Place the chestnuts with syrup into a pot. Bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes. Return the mixture to the container.
Cover loosely and let the chestnuts sit in the syrup for another 18 to 24 hours. Repeat 3 to 4 times until all the syrup is absorbed by the chestnuts.
When the syrup is gone, place the chestnuts on a baking tray. Heat your oven to 250F. Put the chestnuts into the oven and turn off the heat. Leave the chestnuts in the oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Use a medium-sized container for soaking your chestnuts in the syrup.