Gesztenye Püré (Chestnut Purée)

Gesztenye püré is a faintly sweetened and flavored chestnut dessert of Hungary, and served with whipped cream and optional candied fruits.

For the best result, it should be made from fresh chestnuts of the fall season, which makes it extra special, just like getting roasted chestnuts on the boulevards in that time of the year. When fresh chestnuts are not available or one desires to make this dessert at any time of the year, canned purée is available from import food stores on the Net here in the States.

Ingredients

Slit or make a cross on the top of each chestnut. Put them in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring the water to the boil and cook for 5 minutes. Drain, and remove the chestnut shells and the bitter inner skins while warm. Place them in a clean saucepan and add enough cold water again to cover. Simmer uncovered until the chestnuts are tender, for abut 1 hour. Add more water if needed.

When the chestnuts are done, drain and put them through a meat grinder into a large mixing bowl.

Pour the granulated sugar and ½ cup cold water into a small saucepan. Simmer very gently; stir occasionally until the sugar is dissolved to make the syrup.

Combine the warm syrup with the chestnut paste and add the milk to moisten. Gradually stir in the rum. Put it in the refrigerator to cool.

Whip up the heavy cream with the vanilla sugar until the cream forms soft peaks.

Press the purée through a potato ricer into individual glass serving dishes. Heap some whipped cream, or CoolWhip on the dessert and decorate with the Maraschino Cherry, if desired.

(Instead of boiling, the purée can also be made from roasted chestnuts. Preheat the oven to 425 F, place the chestnuts in a shallow baking pan and roast them for about 30 to 40 minutes. Shake the pan several times to rotate the chestnuts so they will cook evenly. Peel as soon as they are cool enough to handle.

Also, note that the canned chestnut purée usually comes all prepared with the sugar, vanilla and rum.)

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