Autumn is now here and I don’t know about you but I crave those product that come with the colder weather. I am obsessed about foods such as mushrooms, cabbage, grape, creamy and/or cheesy food just to mention a few and not to forget chestnuts. Continue reading
Chestnuts also have a sentimental side to them. When I was small, with my mother we would go walk our dogs (a Pointer and a Yorkshire) in the woods just behind our home. Complete with a bag each, we’d stop every few steps to pick up the brown smooth shelled fruits. Once back we would light the fireplace, grab the chestnut pan; incise the chestnuts and get them roasting on a live fire with a humid cloth over them. Once they were nicely charred we would open the shell and taste the chestnuts while giggling and chatting while sitting near the fireplace which warmed our backs. Reminiscing those good times led me to the idea of this week’s recipe. So last Sunday I went down to the cellar and grabbed my (vintage) waffle iron and tried this recipe out. To begin with, I had a classic waffle recipe at home in the form of a little piece of paper stuck in one of my mother’s recipe notebook but I was not sure about the right ratio to combine the chestnuts into the batter. I put the recipe aside and went online. What I found as a good base for my recipe were the Pumpkin Waffles
recipe from smittenkitchen.com. In the end I made a combination of my old recipe with the one I found on the net and it turned out to be good match. I made these chestnut waffles twice because the first time, besides forgetting the baking powder, I also forgot to grease the surface of the waffle iron (the result was a shredded waffle all over the waffle iron). On the second try I didn’t skip any step and I added just a bit more sugar and the story ended in a delicious experience. The plus is that waffles leave a good memory of their passage… there was such a sweet smell around the house that would put anyone in a joyful mood.
About the chestnut:
In Italian we call them “castagne” which comes from the Latin word “Castanea”. The origin of the tree originates from the Caucasus and it spread from there. The tree of the chestnut was much appreciated by the Romans for its fruits and for the quality of its wood which was optimal for weatherproof constructions. It is easy to imagine how useful the chestnut tree and its fruits was to the people who lived in places like my valley; the cultivation of wheat was either just enough to subsist or scarce after a bad season. The first positives of the chestnut is that it grows up to heights of 1000 meters (making it grow also on the northern side of the Alps). The second positive is that the amount of calories provided was higher that the common cultivated grains. One of the very common ways to consume chestnuts was by transforming it into flour. It is for this reason that it is called “the tree of the poor’s bread” (source in Italian: http://www.strazzini-marroni.ch/it/cms-storia/storia.html)
Makes about 12 waffles
Prep time : 15 min
Cook time : about 2 min per waffle
Total time: about 40 min
1 vanilla pod
160g T80 flour
200g vacuum-packed chestnuts
1tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt (+ one pinch for the egg whites)
In one bowl mix the dry ingredients together : the flour, the sugar, the baking powder and the salt.
Put the chestnuts in a blender and reduce it to a puree. Open the vanilla pod lengthwise and scrape out the seeds of both sides.
Separate the eggs and add the yolk to the buttermilk, the vanilla seeds and the mashed chestnuts.
Heat the waffle iron (a higher heat is better because the waffles will have a nicer outside crust).
Add the wet mix to the dry one. Mix but not for long, don’t worry it if doesn’t look too smooth.
Beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they form peaks. Add them to the rest of the ingredients and gently incorporate them. Here again it is better not to overwork the batter.
Once the waffle iron is hot grease the surface with either cooking spray or a neutral tasting oil such as rapeseed. Place the batter in the middle of it and lightly spread it out. For my heart shaped waffles I needed about 2 ½ scoops per shape. Close the machine and wait a couple of minutes or until the vapour had almost stopped coming out (of course if your waffle iron has a timer use that, unlike mine which could belong to a vintage range). Serve.
Serving suggestions: honey and hazelnuts, whipped cream, chocolate, maple syrup, vanilla ice cream…