If you’re looking for a delicious and different Holiday dessert, your search ends here. This cheesecake is a show-stopper. Seriously. The chestnuts lend a deep, earthy flavor to the rich, creamy filling, topped with a sticky chestnut syrup. I garnished it with whole, plump marron glacés (candied chestnuts), but next time I am going to chop them into little pieces to make it easier to eat. Not that it needs any help being devoured, when I served it for dessert it was gone before I could say “Merry Christmas.”
Stay tuned over the next few weeks, I’ll be home for the holidays and will be posting recipes, pics and videos from Texas and Mexico!
For the crust
- 4 ounces (2 cups) Graham cracker crumbs
- 1/2 stick butter
- 2 cooked, peeled chestnuts, finely diced
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Process the crackers, butter and heaped tablespoon diced chestnuts until like fine crumbs. Press the mixture into the bottom of a 9 inch springform pan and bake until edges are golden brown, about 13 minutes.
For the feeling
- 10 ounces of precooked, peeled chestnuts
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 4 marron glacé (candied chestnuts)
- 2 lbs 3 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 1/4 cup (250 g) sugar
- 3 eggs, at room temperature
- 3 egg yolks, at room temperature
- 1 tsp lime or lemon juice
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp rum
- 2 tbsp flour
- 1/2 cup (100 g) di yogurt bianco
- 10 marron glacé (candied chestnuts), for decorating
Make the chestnut cream: Place the cooked chestnuts and the 4 marron glacé and a teaspoon of sugar in a small pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil then lower to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Blend the mixture into a smooth cream. Set aside one tablespoon of chestnut cream for the syrup (recipe below).
Make the filling: Set a kettle on to boil. Beat the cream cheese until smooth and add the sugar. Add the eggs and egg yolks, beating them in one by one until they are incorporated into the cream cheese and sugar. Pour in the lime juice, vanilla extract and rum, and beat again until smooth and creamy. Fold in the flour, then add the chestnut purée and yogurt. Don’t worry about making a fully amalgamated mixture: smooth cream cheese with grainy streaks of chestnut is just fine. Do not over work the mixture.
Line the outside of the springform pan containing the crumb base with aluminum foil, to make a very watertight casing. Place the springform in a roasting pan and pour in the chestnut filling. Pour water from a recently boiled kettle into the roasting pan to come just over an inch up the side of the pan and place in the oven to cook for 50 minutes to an hour.
The cheesecake is ready when it is just set on top and still slightly wobbly in the middle; it will continue cooking as it cools. Run a sharp knife around the edge of the cake to detatch it from the edges. Remove from the roasting pan, take off the foil and let cool on a rack for at least 2 hours at room temperature. Refrigerate overnight before serving. Take out of refrigerator about 20-30 minutes before serving.
You can make the syrup in advance but do not pour over until the actual point of serving.
For the Syrup
- 1/3 cup water
- 1/4 cup rum
- 1 tablespoon sweetened chestnut purée
- 1/4 cup superfine sugar
- 1 tablespoon butter
Put all of the syrup ingredients into a saucepan and melt together, then boil for 10 minutes. Cool to warm (or even room temperature) before criss-crossing the top of the cheesecake with it.
A work of art! One of my cherished memories in France was during chestnut harvest time. The village set up an old roaster in the “centre ville” during Sunday morning market and served the roasted chestnuts with red wine before 11 o’clock Mass. That’s what I call civilized.