Gluten Free Chestnut Pancakes

Chestnut Pancakes
I want to begin this post by sending my thoughts to France. As I mentioned last week, that’s the country we decided to spend our honeymoon in and I have been delighted by this country I had forgotten was so great in so many ways. As a history fan though, I know the French population is tough and they will bounce back. Nevertheless I can’t help but think about the victims and my heart is with them. Continue reading

Drawing from Joann Sfar

How can one make a sensible transition from something so sad to something we all enjoy like food? As for the first I have no words, for the latter, I could talk for hours, nutrition matters included… Lately I have noticed that when I eat too much of something containing flour I get spots on my face and as soon as I stop, they slowly disappear… and between you and me, I’ve had enough bad skin during my puberty. As a solution I limit myself to the equivalent of about one portion of pasta per week. It’s a change in my lifestyle but I mostly just have to adapt and find hacks to still please my palate. In the beginning I was surprised by how much I would have to limit myself, especially when you’re dining out as an almost vegetarian (in a place where the range of restaurants is basically limited to Italian food). To get into the no-wheat flow, last week I tried to make some chestnut pancakes, without the addition of flour and, even if they are a little more moist that the normal ones, they actually melt in your mouth, and this is something I really enjoyed! Just in case you don’t want to go full chestnut read the note below.

NOTE:
If you wish to use flour in this recipe, to the dry ingredients add 4 tbsp. flour or gluten free flour. In this case you will need to increase the amount of milk from 1 dl to 1.5 dl and you don’t necessarily need to whisk the egg whites. This will make the pancakes more consistent and in addition you will be able to make more of them! Here are a few images of the version with flour.


Here is the flour-less version

Gluten Free Chestnut Pancakes

Recipe for about 10 pancakes of 7 cm.
Prep time: 10 min.
Cook time: 10-14 min. per batch

Ingredients:
200 g boiled chestnuts
2 tsp. baking powder
1 dl milk
2 large eggs
50 g butter (melted)
2 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
Roasting butter to make the pancakes
Optional: the seeds of one vanilla pod.

Recipe:
Place the chestnuts in a blender and process them until they become like flour. Transfer to a bowl and add the baking powder, sugar and salt.
Separate the egg yolks from the whites into two separate bowls. To the bowl with the yolks add the milk and the melted butter (optionally add the vanilla pod seeds) and mix to combine. Add this to the ground chestnuts, sugar, baking powder and salt and whisk just enough to mix the ingredients.
Whisk the egg whites to a peak and fold them in gently with the rest of the ingredients. Just remember not to overwork the batter, stop as soon as the batter looks combined, even if the result doesn’t look too smooth.
Heat a pan on a medium fire; add a little roasting butter to melt. Once the grease has melted take a large tbsp. of the batter and place it in the pan, using the back of the spoon to spread it out until it’s a small cm thick. Repeat for the number of pancakes that the pan can hold and cook for 5-7 minutes per side. Repeat until the batter is finished and serve with your favourite toppings: honey, caramel sauce, chocolate sauce, maple syrup…

Chestnut Waffles

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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)

 

Chestnut Waffles

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Makes about  12 waffles

Prep time : 15 min

Cook time : about 2 min per waffle

Total time:  about 40 min

 

Ingredients :

 

1 vanilla pod

160g T80 flour

200g vacuum-packed chestnuts

50g sugar

1tsp baking powder

2 eggs

300ml buttermilk

50g butter

¼ tsp salt (+ one pinch for the egg whites)

 

Recipe :

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…