Hailing from Northern Italy and Southern France, Marron Glaces (mar–uh n, muh–rohn; French ma–rawn gla-sey ) are nothing more than a candied chestnut which is then glazed by baking. They can be eaten plain, added to desserts, served with crepes, eaten over ice cream, etc. Until this year, I struggled to remove the shell, and found the inner membrane so time-consuming. Now, however, there is an easier way! I found a video in youtube and have posted the URL.
Marron glaces are VERY expensive and available seasonally when the crop of chestnuts is ready. You’ll pay $50 for half a pound if you order them online. One nut, yes, just one will cost you $4.00 in New York City. Go to Paris and it will cost you over $4.00 apiece. I have a dear friend that was born in France. I make them for him every year when fresh chestnuts are available in our grocery stores. As I said, it used to take forever to peel them. Now, I learned that you can poke a hole, microwave them for 15 seconds, and then whack them with the palm of your hand. It was actually kind of fun and eased all sorts of stressful thoughts that had been wandering around my head. It takes four days to complete this recipe, but do not worry. Once you have peeled them, you will only spend a few minutes a day.
If peeling is not for you, you can order a can of authentic French chestnuts online for about $15.00 for a 20 oz can. They are packed in water, and many of them are broken, so do your own math. I bought a can because I couldn’t bear the thought of peeling that inner membrane. Then I found the video, and Bob bought me some fresh chestnuts. I made both, and they are going out in the mail tomorrow. I’m so anxious to see which he prefers.
40 fresh chestnuts (or a 20 oz can of French peeled chestnuts)
2 cups sugar
3 ½ cups water
1 tsp vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean
Working with three nuts at a time, take the point of a paring knife and poke a hole in each nut. (I found it easier to peel if you poked, and then made a 1 ½” slit. Watch the video and try it both ways. Pop the three chestnuts in the microwave for 15 seconds, and then whack one at a time with the palm of your hand. Peel. The membrane and outer shell come off. You will get sections of the wrinkly indents that have a small piece of the inner membrane stuck. Take your paring knife, turn it upside down (flat end down) and poke the tip into the indent. Wiggle the knife and push it along. The membrane should pop right out. The reason for doing 3 at a time is that they must remain hot to quickly remove the inner membrane. If you have a problem with one, pop it back into the microwave for 3 seconds.
Watch the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4QU6jl_uJLY
In a 1 ½ qt saucepan, bring sugar, water and vanilla to a boil. Boil for roughly 7 minutes to make the syrup. Add the peeled chestnuts and simmer for about 7 minutes. Turn heat off, let sit until steam is no longer rising. Cover and let sit over night.
Second day, bring nuts and syrup to a boil and boil for one minute. Let cool, cover and sit overnight. Repeat for four days or until no syrup remains.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place chestnuts in a single layer. Place in the oven at 170 ° – 190° F. Prop the oven door open with a silicone pad or wooden spoon. Bake for 2 – 4 hours or until the candied chestnuts are dry. This last step enables the sugar syrup to turn into a hard candy shell.
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