As if I needed any further evidence that I was meant to live in Paris, it is my firm belief (though based only in fantasy) that at any time of the year over there, I will have unfettered access to things made with chestnuts, one of my favorite foods that only get a lukewarm reception in this country. Sure, we roast them on “open fires” in December (in our smoking jackets, of course, while our dog brings us the evening paper) but the rest of the year, they’re relegated to nostalgia. Even in New York City, I rarely see such delights as chestnut paste, which I attempted to smuggle back into the country after our last trip, not realizing that airport security would consider it a liquid and force me to throw it away (I still get a little weepy when I remember this). And don’t even get me started on our woeful absence of marrons glace, or candied chestnuts. Okay, fine, get me started.
In short, they are an obsession. I think they’re one of the most delicious things on earth and thus, it would be only logical that I would make them and share with you how you could do so at home. Except, I’ll never make them because they’re exceedingly fragile and time-consuming to make and were you to try, you’d quickly realize why it is de riguer to cough up five dollars for a single one at a candy shop. “Come on, Deb” I hear you saying, “That’s rather defeatist of you!” but here, let me tell you what the very first step is in candying chestnuts: roast the chestnuts and peel them in one piece. And now let me show you what happened the last time I tried to:
And so, with only minimal regret, I’ve lowered the bar a bit and attempted to make a chestnut cookie for people with limited free time and, perhaps, imperfect chestnut peeling skills. They’re almost as luxurious. I took one of my favorite cookies — a buttery, nutty, delicate puff called, depending on who you are speaking to, Mexican Wedding Cakes, Russian Tea Cakes, Polvorones or OMG I Love These Cookies And Never Know What They Are Called!. You’ll have to forgive me because I only realized after the fact that I’ve already made a classic version of these on the site but that was, like, four years ago, which is more than a liftetime (if you’re the be-hatted Jacob Henry) and countless hours of lost sleep ago (if you’re his mama) and I cannot be expected to be clear on such ancient details.
Nevertheless, these are better. “They taste exactly like roasted chestnuts!” my husband proclaimed, or phew, as that’s mostly what they’re made of. And of course, butter, no insignicant amount. Then flour and only a very small amount of sugar, so much so that if you’re a dough nibbler (and how can you not be?) you’ll probably worry because the cookies themselves are barely sweet. However, it’s their roll in the powdered sugar snow as they cool that makes it all work out. Your first impression is melting sugar and the second is an oomph of winter warmth, just in time for this windy, frosty week.
One year ago: Balsamic Braised Brussels with Pancetta and Cream Biscuits
Two years ago: Cauliflower Gratin
Three years ago: Curried Lentils and Sweet Potatoes, Rugelach Pinwheels and Fennel Ice Cream (which is astoundingly delicious, even if you believe yourself to be fennel averse)
Four years ago: Sundried Tomato Stuffed Mushrooms, Jacked-Up Banana Bread, Orangettes and Honey-Hoisin Pork Riblets
Roasted Chestnut Cookies
Adapted generously from Epicurious
My main changes to the classic formula, aside from the chestnuts, were to add some spice, salt, give instruction to make a smoother, easy-peasy dough in the food processor and to warn about the baking time. These cookies can go from “holy buttery chestnuts!” into the dry territory with just a little overbaking. Better to err on the side of caution.
I also encourage you to start with a whole pound of chestnuts, although you’ll only need about 2/3 of them, because chestnuts are notorious for surprising you, once roasted, with rotten centers. If you’ve got a winning batch (as I did), you get a little to snack on and everyone wins.
Makes about 4 dozen 1-inch cookies
1 pound chestnuts
1 cup (2 sticks or 8 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon + additional for coating
A few gratings of fresh nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups all purpose flour
Preheat oven to 450°F. Cut a small X on the top of each chestnut with a very sharp knife. Don’t be afraid to cut into the “meat” of the chestnut a little; I found that the the ones that were the most easy to peel start with a deep enough cut that the skin peels back while roasting. Roast chestnuts on a baking sheet for about 20 to 30 minutes, until a darker shade of brown and the X peels back to reveal the inner nut.
Cool on tray and then peel. Don’t worry if they break up as you do so if you have to dig them out in pieces, you won’t need whole ones for this.
Once the peeled chestnuts are fully cool, chop them coarsely on a cutting board. Measure 1 cup of chopped chestnuts, and dump them in the bowl of a food processor. Grind them until they are very well chopped, then add the softened butter, and pulse again until combined. Add 1/2 cup of your powdered sugar, vanilla extract, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and flour and pulse until an even dough is formed.
[No food processor? Chop-chop-chop those chestnuts as fine as you can, then use an electric mixer to whip the butter and 1/2 cup powdered sugar. Add the vanilla, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, flour and chestnuts and beat until well blended.]
Divide dough and wrap each half in plastic, chilling for one hour or until firm. Once chilled, preheat the oven to 350°F. Whisk remaining 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar and a few pinches of cinnamon in a small bowl. Set aside. Working with one half of the chilled dough at at time, roll it into 2 teaspoon-sized balls (I use my 1 tablespoon measure, but didn’t fill it) in the palm of your hand. Arrange on parchment-lined baking sheet but no need to leave more than 1/2 inch between the cookies; they won’t spread.
Bake cookies until golden brown on bottom and just pale golden on top, about 14 to 17 minutes. (See Note up top about baking times.) Cool cookies 5 minutes on baking sheet. Gently toss warm cookies in cinnamon sugar to coat completely. Transfer coated cookies to rack and cool completely. Repeat procedure with remaining half of dough. To touch them up before serving, you can sift some of the leftover cinnamon-sugar mixture over them.
Do ahead: Dough can be chilled in the fridge for a day or two, longer in the freezer. Chestnuts can be roasted in advance, kept at room temperature for a day or so. Cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for a week.
344 comments on roasted chestnut cookies
Anything that hints of Russian Teacake is Fan-tastic! Yum.
Having seen a number of recipes calling for chestnuts (which I love, but have never cooked with), I’m officially intrigued! These would make wonderful holiday presents!
Delicious! These look amazing.
Where did you get the chestnuts from in NYC, if you don’t mind me asking? I can only find some at Whole Foods.
Susan — Ordered them from Fresh Direct, over Thanksgiving week no less (and promptly forgot about them for 2 weeks) and they were excellent. I don’t even think I threw one away. I’ve had less luck with those I bought at WF, but that was in previous years.
These look wonderful! The sight (and especially toasty aroma) of roasted chestnuts makes me think of visiting New York City at Christmas time, ice-skating at Rockefeller Center, seeing the Radio City Christmas Show, and watching snowflakes fall like magic from the bright city sky.
Oh how I miss the roasted chestnuts of Italy! I haven’t ventured to roast my own but you’re encouraging me to with these beautiful cookies. What’s better than roasted chestnuts and butter? :)
I absolutely love chestnuts!! Those cookies look divine…must try those asap. And I love that you tried to smuggle in the paste! haha xo
You’ll have better luck peeling chestnuts if you boil them.
Score, bring to boil in water to cover, peel while still hot.
Quality matters…most years we get crappy chestnuts in VA, and even if you get it out whole, there’s a brown or moldy patch that has to be cut out. Thanksgiving this year we got great ones, most came out whole – and I forgot to score before I boiled them!
We put them in the stuffing.
We want holy buttery chestnut cookies! YUM. And gotta love Fresh Direct for stocking chestnuts…
wow, these sound absolutely incredible. i *love* chestnuts! do you think chestnut paste could be substituted, or would the texture be way off?
They made you throw out the chestnut paste? Not cool
I made and canned some homemade chestnut paste. It’s not the real Crème de marrons de l’Ardèche deal, but I’d be happy to share the recipe and/or a jar. :)
This looks superb, I bet those roasted chestnuts are to die for. These cookies remind me of these Greek/Russian cookies I normally make for the holidays although I am still debating whether or not I should add them to my Christmas goodie bags this year, what to do? :-)
Honestly, I have no idea what a chestnut even tastes like. But these make me want to learn!
Luckily, in French-speaking Canada, you are never very far from chestnut paste, glacee’ chestnuts and any other iteration you care to think of!
One of the things I remember most vividly about my (brief) time in France was the chestnut puree. We used to eat it mixed in with yogurt or fromage blanc. My host mother admitted to eating it out of the can with a spoon. It took years for me to understand that it was chestnuts since I knew them only as “marrons.” Obsession is just about right, although I have never attempted chestnuts in the US… this might be my year as I passed some in the grocery store just this morning.
I have never had a chestnut. I’ve seen jars of them, but didn’t realize you could get them fresh. I’m intrigued to try to find them now.
Love love love this! I too am obsessed with chesntuts right now, and have been brainstorming savory recipes for them. But this, this just put me back on the sweets side.
These sound delicious! But I just got gifted some lovely salted, roasted macadamia nuts from Hawaii. Think I could nix the salt and swap the nuts?
And I just feel the need to apologize to the universe because this looks to be a lovely recipe and I’m already changing it before even trying it. It feels wrong. So wrong. But potentially tasty.
Stephanie — These are traditionally made with pecans, walnuts or hazelnuts, I see no reason not to use macadamia nuts, either. Just make sure they have no oily coating, and if you think they might, add an extra tablespoon flour.
I used to love this time of year in Paris (and other west European cities) when the street vendors selling roast chestnuts were seemingly everywhere…
Alright already! It is time to give chestnuts a try again. When I grew up we had a chestnut tree in our backyard. Did we eat them? No, not really. We did used to step on those urchin like black pointy outer covering spikes. Ouch.
They are in our grocery right now, so I have no excuse. I love the use of them in this cookie recipe.
I absolutely adore chestnuts, and I just cooked with them for the first time over Thanksgiving, using them in a wild rice dressing, which was delicious. Of my three trips to Paris, I’ve never been in the winter, and thus have been unable to sample any French confection with chestnuts, which is totally bumming me out right now, after reading this post – but I think these cookies will help lift my spirits again. :)
I love roasted chestnuts and when I saw your post got so excited because I thought they were going to be flourless and thus gluten-free. But I think I can adapt it with my favorite gluten-free flour and it will work because they don’t really rise.
Hi Deb, what are your thoughts on subbing pre-peeled chestnuts? I’ve used the vacuum-packs for other recipes in the past and I am usually happy with the flavor and texture… I am not sure if I have the patience for roasting and peeling myself but if you say it’s worth it, maybe I can convince myself to give it a go. ;)
Joanna — I was waiting for someone to ask. :) I have never, ever used them (or even tried them) so hopefully someone else can opine.
I just tried it with the La Forestere whole roasted chestnuts. I found them to be a little lacking in flavor and the resulting cookies pretty bland. Nice with coffee or tea though.
This couldn’t have come at a better time! I have a colander full of chestnuts waiting to be roasted. Cookies sound so good!
Chestnut paste a liquid?! As a massive fan of chestnuts, I’m outraged! Well I hope you were able to find some back home. Have you tried the sweetened version? It is everything that is amazing (think chocolate pavlova with sweet chestnut puree and mascarpone)
I know what you mean about the lukewarm reception. Growing up I had a vague notion of what they were, but it wasn’t until I moved to Japan of all places that I finally tasted my first chestnut (after wondering what the hell a “???” [ma-ro-n] was). Returning to Canada meant never seeing them again!
These look delicious! I’d just been starting to get that Christmas cookie itch, too. Once I find somewhere that has chestnuts I will definitely attempt these.
Deb – help! Normally I just gush about how much I love your recipes, but in this case… I had a real disaster I need help with.
I just tried roasting chestnuts last week, for your chestnuts and brussel sprouts recipe. The chestnuts were a disaster! I nearly lopped off a finger trying to create a cut in the shell. Only after soaking for about 30 minutes we were able to get them all sliced. Then I roasted them for 20 minutes in a 400 degree oven, and took out and let cool enough to handle and then proceeded to peel. Not only were they phenomenally difficult to peel (ending up in us getting out pliers to assist us) the shells kept leaving behind their fuzzy lining, which we then had to scrape off. To add injury to insult, the shells were cutting my fingers up, like little paper cuts. And then the final blow (that landed our pound of chestnuts in the trash) was that when they were totally cooled to room temp they were ROCK HARD. I mean, marble in a glass hard.
What on Earth happened to our chestnuts? Were they maybe too old? A bad bunch? Did we do something wrong? Help!!
You could buy roasted and peeled chestnuts and then candy those.
I’ve never seen candied chetnuts in the store, but I see prepared ones all the time. (especially at Italian grocers)
My sweet mom decided we should roast chestnuts on an open fire one year around this time. But she bought hazelnuts. So we had hazelnuts roasted on an open fire.
In Greece we make these with blanched almonds and lots of sheep’s milk butter for the holidays. We call them kourabiedes. I love that you put chestnuts into these cookies. I must definitely try them! A question though: can’t someone use boiled chestnuts instead? I find that if you peel them when they’re raw and boil them is much easire than trying to peel them after you’ve roasted them.
Those pre-peeled vacuum packed chestnuts as mentioned by Joanna, are available at Trader Joes right now, for anyone that wants to try using them.
I too wonder about the pre-peeled chestnuts. They taste the same, but I have a hard time believing there are no preservatives involved, and so I’ve always been curious how they manage to peel and preserve them and then sell them so cheap. Product of China and all…
Are pre-peeled chestnuts damp? If so, I’d be wary to use them as you need a dry nut for these.
I love roasted chestnuts. I have to try this.
looks delicious. =)
I have never tried chestnuts before, but I love these cookies! I made some yesterday with almonds but didn’t think to add spice. Will definitely give that a try next time (and the chestnuts, too). Thanks!
I’ve never had a chestnut, but these look and sound like the perfect intro!
Liz D., I had a similar experience with home-roasted chestnuts — some were too hard to be usable, and the softer ones were very, very dry. It ended up being OK-ish because they were going into a lentil roulade and getting smothered with mushroom gravy, but I cannot imagine ever feeling the kind of enthusiasm I’m seeing here, for those chestnuts. What did we do wrong?
Whenever I roast chestnuts I find it impossible to wait until they are fully cooled before attempting to peel them. They always smell so delicious and I want to taste one right away. Inevitably, this results in me burning my thumbs while I try to peel a still smoking hot chestnut. After doing this many times, we developed a new term in my house for this condition: chestnut thumb. I am happy to endure another case of chestnut thumb to make these delicious sounding cookies!
In case you are curious about why the heck there aren’t many chestnuts ’round these parts (i.e. in the U.S.), part of that has to do with the chestnut blight, which pretty much destroyed the American chestnut species in the 1920s-1940s. There’s a European chestnut species, which has slightly different nuts, that wasn’t as strongly affected by the blight, so the chestnuts sold in Italy/imported from Europe are generally European chestnuts. There are also Asian chestnut species, the Chinese chestnut and the Japanese chestnut, and again, the nuts are actually somewhat different in nutritional content/texture from the European and American species. Many of the nuts produced in the U.S. are actually from non-native Chinese chestnut trees. Hope that isn’t way more than you ever wanted to know about chestnuts :)
Christine — Great information; thanks for sharing!
Deb, in the post you mentioned chestnut paste and after seeing what the can looked like I have gobs of those cans in my pantry. Is there anyway you could sub the fresh chestnuts for the paste in this recipe? Thanks for your wonderful posts and jacob tidbits! :)
They are ‘polvorones’ in my little world and utterly glorious. Chestnuts sound so so wonderful in them!
can you believe i’ve never ever had chestnuts?!?! i really need to jump on that bandwagon from what i hear…and these are the best way to do it :)
I have never cooked with chestnuts, this recipe might be a good one to try. Sounds like a yummy introduction to chestnuts. Thanks.
These look delicious and I’m eager to hear if anyone ends up having any success with pre-peeled chestnuts. I had a roasted chestnuts kitchen disaster a few years ago (my husband still teases about the burnt chestnuts smell that permeated our apartment for weeks), and I’ve been wary ever since. These cookies might be a good reason to give it another shot, though!
I love snowball cookies, and after finally roasting some chestnuts for the first time last year and discovering how amazing they are, I cannot wait to try these.
That makes me miss Austria so much! Whenever it gets colder out, street vendors open their roasted chestnut and roasted potato stands. Sometimes you can also buy latkes there. You can get roasted chestnuts everywhere.
There is also a dish I really love which translates to chestnut rice (Maroni Reis) – it’s ground chestnuts with powdered sugar and cream. Super filling but incredibly good.
i very rarely eat chestnuts – in fact, only when my dad breaks them out and roasts them which happens every few years. never thought to turn them into a cookie!
I’ve never had a whole chestnut (crazy, right?), but now all I can think about is how good candied chestnuts must taste and where I might be able to find one. Thanks for piquing my curiosity!
Hiya! I am the reigning Queen of the Chestnuts, eating them twice a week and whipping up chestnut paste and butternut-chestnut soup on but a whim. However, I AM German and grew up roasting these babies up and peeling them with my Da. At this point I have asbestos fingers. A tip: chestnuts peel best when piping hot from the oven. Grab some oven mits that are relatively wieldy and you’ll find the task much easier. It helps to rope your husband in for this task.
Or, the easier alternative: buy jars or tetra packs of pre-cooked chestnuts. They are equally delicious, especially for quick snacks.
I can’t wait to make these cookies for Christmas!
I love chestnuts but dislike the peeling part! At Trader Joe’s (and I think William Sonoma and some specialty grocery stores) you can get already roasted and peeled chestnuts (just used them yesterday in pumpkin soup:) )…can we cheat and use those instead? I would assume yes…but I’m definitely no expert when it comes to baking :P What do you think?
I’ve never actually had a chestnut. Never really thought about it actually. They seem so abstract when people sing about them…
I, too, am a chestnut…nut! Accordingly, when I saw this recipe in the Washington Post about a month ago, I just about fell out of my chair: http://projects.washingtonpost.com/recipes/2010/11/03/chestnut-chorizo-soup/
Haven’t tried it yet, but can’t imagine these ingredients adding up to be anything less than delicious!
Oh sorry….I just saw that it was addressed. There is a very small amount of liquid in the package…very minimal…when I used them yesterday in my pumpkin soup I just dumped them directly in the pot without feeling them. It wouldn’t work just drying them with paper towel? If anyone tries the packaged ones, let us know how it goes :D
These look fantastic- I never wouldn’t have thought of using chestnuts! I make these with walnuts or pecans and bake them at 300 (in my grandma’s “hot” oven) or 325 for a little longer to try to avoid drying them out.
Roasted chestnuts are a family favorite! They always remind me of my Gram! Bet she would love these cookies :)
Liz D and RZ: I wonder if you didn’t cook them for long enough? When I’ve had roasted chestnuts (on the streets in Paris, sigh), if they weren’t cooked enough they’d be an enormous PITA to peel and then wouldn’t be tasty. The best ones were cooked till almost burnt (not suggesting that for an indoor kitchen!) — easy to peel and soft and delicious inside.
Sahadi’s in Brooklyn often has roasted chestnuts! Yum!! Must. Make. These.
The only experience I have with chestnuts is when I was in my early 20’s. We were in NYC and bought roasted chestnuts from a street vendor ( do they still do that?) I thought they tasted like a sweet knish( yuck) must have missed something. I thought they were great for putting in my pockets to keep my fingers warm on a fridgid winter stroll though!
I read that chestnuts are much easier to peel and keep whole when they’re warm. I remember some website (the name is escaping me!) suggesting that you roast them in foil bags with water, and once you take them out of the oven you open and work with one bag at a time to make sure the others stay warm. Thought it might be worth a try!
Chestnuts are definitely easier to peel when warm (I actually peel them when they’re nearly too hot to handle). I loved eating roasted chestnuts in Japan and buy them when they have them outside of Marukai Market in Los Angeles. The little plastic fork spoon things they give you makes opening them so easy! I just use the thing to sort of perforate the side and then pinch them to pop them open.
I’ve made these using walnuts and pecans but I haven’t tried it with chestnuts though that sounds great! I’ve also taken little chocolate pieces and rolled them into the center of the cookie so they end up having this awesome little chocolate center! I’d definitely recommend trying that if you are a chocolate lover. It is delicious!
My grandmother used a similar recipe, but down here they’re made with pecans, and we call them Sand Dabs. I love the chestnut idea, however, much more classy.
I have died and gone to heaven…
Chestnuts are THE best thing, along with Permissons this time of year. I have just finished eating a bowl of roasted chestnuts with my boyfriend, and seriously said that i guess ive eaten about 1000 chestnuts these last 2 months, no joke!
Cant WAIT to make these!!! Love you Deb!
OMG yes! I’ve had chestnuts left over from (Canadian) thanksgiving in my freezer forever, and I finally have something interesting to do with them! I’m a huge fan of the chestnut + chocolate combination; do you think these would be good dipped in some melted chocolate instead of rolled in powdered sugar? Or would the chocolate overpower the chestnutty taste?
I breeze right by the chestnuts in the store because I’m intimidated by them. I shouldn’t be.
For the folks wondering about the vacuum-packed chestnuts, I’m skeptical. Vacuum-packed or jarred chestnuts are not dripping wet, or even damp to the touch, but they have a completely different texture than the shelled nut because of the processing they’ve endured. It reminds me of a date or a fig. I guess the key will be how well they grind up in the food processor. Seems like they would become a sticky mess. I don’t want to test it on my $16 jar of French chestnuts, but if some soul is brave enough to try it, please post the results! Another potential online resource for fresh chestnuts is earthy.com. I haven’t tried the chestnuts, but their mushrooms are good.
I just made Russian Teacakes last week in honor of Christmas and my kitty cat: Teacake! But these look ever better.
I learned so much by reading this post. Thanks for sharing!
I will have to give these a whirl! My husband adores a simliar recipe and I’ll probably earn major brownie points for making these. Thanks!
This brings me back to autumn and winter days in Paris. Buying them in the street from the chestnut vendors, peeling them as I walk down the stairs to the crowded metro, my fingers getting slightly burned from the heat. And so good. This post made me quite nostalgic!
Well, these sounds delicious, and since Mexican wedding cakes are my favorite, I will have to make these at once :-)
fantastic! Those look so delicious! I may be making some enemies here, but I’ve never been a HUGE fan of chestnuts – but these look so good that I’m convinced at the very least to give them another go! thanks – cant wait to try them!
I also got my beautiful tin of chestnut paste confiscated at airport security on my way home from France. Also removed were a wheel of brie and a jar of homemade apricot jam. I very nearly wept or begged to be able to crack open the items and redistribute them into 100ml containers so as to prove that they contained nothing but edible unexplosive goodness. SIGH.
Great recipe, will try them as soon as I get my hands on some chestnuts.
Mmmm… . These sound so good!
My own chestnut plans for the holiday involve a can of Faugier chestnut cream and some whipped cream, in a prebaked pie shell. I’m the only one in the family who loves chestnuts, so I tend to be indulgent during the holidays.
I’ve always had such bad luck buying chestnuts IRL that I don’t even bother any more. This recipe has me tempted to fiddle with some cookie recipes (subbing the chestnut cream for some of the sugar in the recipe) just to see what happens.
One of my favorite ways to indulge, though, is just to spread some chestnut cream on a crepe, top it with a dollop of whipped cream and enjoy. So, so good!
(Oh, P.S. thanks for your Gateau de crepes recipe, I’m thrilled to find a recipe for a larger batch of crepe batter that actually works.)
I am a real lover of roasted chestnuts. I love that you added them to spice cookies. These sounds like such an original cookie for the holidays — thanks for the recipe!
Deb, you should move to the UK- they’re rolling in chestnuts. In the winter, vendors sell them roasted, and the smell when you walk past is so fragrant. You can also buy chesnuts almost all year round, in packs that are pre-roasted and peeled. Reading this post made me miss living in London terribly, especially as we approach Christmas- I’ll be having a barbeque in New Zealand and not eating roast chesnuts….
Trader Joe’s is selling chestnuts by the bag full….so fantastic! I’m running over there…recipe in hand! Oh, thank you Deb!!!
Yum. Simply, YUM. I have found jarred Ardeche Marrons, ready-to-eat, from Cuneo, Italy at my local Williams-Sonoma store. Will they work in this recipe?
Ok, not bad for a start re: “chestnut appreciation”. NOW, time for serious stuff–leave the sweets behind. Oven roast a lovely free range chicken. In the meantime, saute peeled chestnuts in butter, then add some white wine and a hit of brandy. Scatter in some fennel seeds and a few good grinds of black pepper. Add some water or stock if you have it and simmer peeled chestnuts until very soft. Puree with stick blender. When chicken is done, set aside and cover. Add pan juices to chestnut mixture and blend again. Slice up chicken, pour some sauce over it, serve the rest on the side with good brown rice, wheat kernels, etc. THIS is where chestnuts really shine.
Chestnut Peelers Of The World; REJOICE!!
No more X. No more sliced fingers. No kidding!
The result of decades of research! (oh,ok, the result of a week of hard thinking.) :-)
We’re actually in the process of making a talking version of this video; with another new technique for whole roasting added. Like; tomorrow. Soon as it’s done, we’ll be sticking it up on YouTube and our own website.
But you guys here are in such pain I couldn’t just leave you to suffer. Give this a try; it’s amazing.
Philip Rutter (Founding President, The American Chestnut Foundation; acf.org)
These cookies look fantastic. Roasted “Maroni” are available on every street corner here in Germany this time of year. I love chestnuts but admit I didn’t get into them before moving here from the states.
You can find bags of “roasted chestnuts” in chinese suppermarkets that have already been peeled, they are usually not very expensive, could they be substituted?
I can’t wait to make these. They look delicious!
Loved roasted nuts!
for phillip: so do you just roast the chestnuts as normal with no x in them or are those raw?
These look awesome. I love mexican wedding cookies, for some reason I thought they were made with almonds.
I thought chestnuts were rare here because of the blight that killed all the american chestnut trees? This is making me want to hunt some down, somehow…
Those look delicious! They remind me of a recipe I have for Mexican Wedding Cakes, but I’ve never used chesnuts in them. Maybe I should try it. Thanks for the tips!
Amazon has all things Chestnut. :)
Oh these cookies are quite unique and very Christmassy. I’m going to see if I can get a bunch to try this recipe.
Ive never had chestnuts before and this delish recipe is calling my name :)
@Caitlin – those are raw, being prepped for further cooking, whichever way you want. Halve on a cutting board, parboil 2 minutes; cool slightly, and pop them out. There’s a whole description on our website, which is linked to below the video. Seriously, we’re making the update tomorrow; I’m expecting it to be on YouTube in the evening, and it will have voice, and rather less primitive camera work… :-)
(Incidentally, it was my daughter-in-law, who is a fan here, who alerted me about this post. We just had Thanksgiving at her place- with- chestnut stuffing, done this way.)
oh my goodness, these look absolutely delightful! my entire family LOVES chestnuts – i’m sure they would be crazy about these cookies. thanks for sharing!
These look gorgeous. I have never tried a chestnut; I feel so deprived. I think it’s time to change that.
I LOVE chestnuts and can’t wait to make these.
Zingerman’s (the Deli in Ann Arbor, Michigan) offers marrons glace and candied chestnuts as a seasonal item. I managed to snag some this year, and they were wonderful.
I’m smitten with your kitten!
I have never tries chestnuts and am so curious about the taste.. I’m actually going to buy a bottle of chestnut spread that I saw at the store. Perhaps that might give some direction to my tastebuds.
I have never tried chestnut cookies, but a friend of mine told me that the best tort she had ever eaten was with chestnuts. Encouraged by that I once made a chocolate chestnut cake–quite disappointing. I now have a new recipe for a chicken with chestnuts–hopefully this will improve on my first experience with chestnuts.
If you like chestnuts, try going to Corsica the next time you are in France. Chestnuts are a staple in the traditional Corsican diet, and you can find everything from flour to cookies to beer made with chestnuts.
i appreciate the do ahead advice. when i was little, my mom wouldnt do anything ahead and she would never get any sleep, was irritable and we missed he but munched on the treats.
I adore the Romance of the Chestnut—all that glace’ing and roasting and the paper cones spilling out those toasty morsels as you stroll past vendor after vendor on a snowy street. And a Mont Blanc—that’s my ideal first bite, as I’ve never tasted one—I’m waiting to encounter one of those great looping piles of the sweet puree, topped with an equally-artistic snowy crest of whipped cream.
And re: The Hat—I Googled “baby balaclava” just because of the neckband, and found LOTS of pictures which might be similar. Our only baby boy lives in LA, and so we’ve not encountered such an important hat.
These look exactly like Christmas cookies (referred to in a very old cookbook as “mexican wedding cakes”) that my mother makes every year!
@Phillip, I love that there’s an American Chestnut Foundation! Looking forward to the new video re whole roasting. The things you learn on the internets…..
Out here in Portland the stores sell amazing raw chestnuts that come from a local farm. Absolutely delicious. And instead of cutting an X for whole roasting I do a hemisphere cut, which gives me much better results in terms of A) not cutting off my fingers and B) excavating the chestnuts whole.
Ok, you convinced me to roast chestnuts again! I did it for the first time this year and although I am blessed to live in Switzerland where we can get all things chestnut, I thoroughly enjoyed the process. Not nearly as hard as I had imagined. And now I HAVE to make these cookies. Thanks again for another compelling post!
I love chestnuts just as much as you do. And, I’ve finally been able to find them year round at an Asian grocery store. They come already roasted and peeled, in little bags. And they’re amazing (although not as fun as pealing them yourself). Check out your Asian market and see if they have any.
HI!! We must make the most of these chestnuts now that they are in season. I have no doubt these cookies must be delicious, and very easy to make with kids.
Thanks for the recipe.
Bye from Spain.
Yum. We love chestnuts in this house, so luckily there is a huge tree growing in a park near-by that no one else but us seems to raid come chestnut season. I’ll have to try this recipe out when it’s winter in New Zealand, it look’s devine :-)
@Allison: Where do you buy your chestnuts? I live in Portland as well and have had no luck in buying fresh chestnuts.
No shortage of butter, indeed – these sound amazing and look very lovely in the powdered sugar! I hate working with powdered sugar but it always looks so pretty.
Regarding the jarred, already-peeled chestnuts from Williams-Sonoma, I plan to use them, but will dry them first with a paper towel and then on a cookie sheet in the oven at a very low temp for awhile to remove additional moisture. I think texture difference between these and freshly-roasted ones will not be a problem, since they are mashed to a pulp in the processor anyway. I ADORE all things chestnut, cannot wait to try these! I will post my results.
Yay we have plenty of chestnuts! :) I’ll be eating them while making this wonderful cookie. Wonderful pics as usual!
Deb, were we sisters in another life? You’re the only other person I know of who can wax rhapsodic about chestnuts, marrons glacées, brown butter, and caramel! (I am not making up the caramel part, am I?) In Italy I had a budino di marroni that was so amazing that, after I got home, I asked my Italian-born hairdresser to call the restaurant and get some version of the recipe (it had chestnuts *and* caramel…). And last week I made a version of crème de marrons that had broken chestnut pieces in it, which I found quite wonderful– less intensely sweet than the canned version.
Anyway, I have to make these– they sound amazing.
I have a can of sweetened CHUNKY chestnut puree in my pantry. *smug* From France.
You should ask someone for these as a Christmas present!
Zingerman’s Italian Marrons Glacés
I grew up with the walnut version of these cookies (which we call snowballs – makes kids love them even more!) and now make these every year for my family’s holiday cookie tray – can’t wait to surprise them with a chestnut version!
I’m confused…the picture shows the cookies with powdered sugar, but the explanation in the recipe mentions rolling the finished cookies in cinnamon and sugar…did you do both?
Russian teacakes have always been my favorite Christmas cookie. As a matter of fact they are the only Christmas cookie I have made for our Christmas party for the last several years. I will look forward to trying these with the chestnuts I bought knowing that something would come along to use them for. Thanks as always for your creative inspiration!
My mother gave me bags of chestnuts a few weeks ago and they are wallowing in my fridge as I couldn’t sum up the energy to just roast them and eat them. But now, these cookies (one of my favorites) will bring my chestnuts to a higher calling! I thank you and my mother who hates wasting anything thanks you.
Until last year, I had never tasted roasted chestnuts, but it was something I always wanted to try. We bought the chestnuts, put them on a tray, and stuck them in the oven. Then, they started to explode! What a mess! I should have done some research first. Now, I know. Cut the “X” :-)
The cookies sound delicious. Now I just need to convince my family to let me try roasting chestnuts again.
This looks amazing! Can’t wait to try these. I love your recipes and all the detail and photographs that you share. Thanks so much!
I’ve never had a chestnut but I’ve been eyeing them this year. I have even taken a peek on Youtube to see how you prep them and there are a lot of video’s on how to do it. I love this type of cookie, so maybe I’ll just grab some chestnuts next time I see them.
I love the look of these powdered beauties. Awesome.
I saw chestnut vendors all over Istanbul. Here are a few pics: http://lentilbreakdown.blogspot.com/2010/11/travel-bite-turkish-chestnut-vendors.html
Wow these look amazing! I love chestnuts too and you don’t see them around much, so thank you for sharing!!!!!!!!1
(Please explain as I open up your latest recipe, how 126 people have already commented?) Chestnuts, I crave them. Anything with Chestnut in it is ok with me. I remember giving my mother a box of Fauchon Marron Glace 30 years ago and the smile on her face…..
Deb, I have been a regular reader of your blog for quite some time, and I thoroughly enjoy your posts (and recipes). I thought it was about time that I post a comment on how absolutely adorable your baby is! OMG – That photo in the knitted hat-ma-jig is so, utterly cute! Good work!
These look great. I often see chesnuts in the grocery store, but I never know what to do with them; now I see I should make cookies.
OMG! These look sooo delicious. I’ve never baked with chestnuts, but you can bet I will very soon! Thanks for this recipe!
The baking sheet of roasted chestnuts is an incredible image. Happy Holidays Deb!
We made fantastic roasted chestnuts with a chestnut roasting pan (it looks like a saute pan with holes in the bottom). The pan is a one-use wonder, but totally worth it if you like roasted chestnuts. We made the x cut, ran them under some cold water, and then roasted them on the stove over med-high heat until the skins blackened and shrank somewhat (about 5 – 10 minutes). The peels just slipped off. No chestnut thumb! :)
Oh how I love trying new things, I can’t wait to sing “the” song while roasting the chestnuts so traditionally in my oven :) Thanks for the great idea!
When I lived in Korea I loved getting roasted chestnuts from street vendors in the winter–they smell sooo amazing and it was incredibly comforting to warm my hands and mouth with a little paper pouch of them :) this is my first winter back in the U.S., so thanks for reminding me what I’m missing! :(
Congratulations on your Village Voice award!!!
Anything new – other than totally yummy chestnut & apple stuffing – made with chestnuts is good for me. Can’t wait to try this recipe. I love reading your posts, seeing your great photos and of course your wonderful cooking!!!!
I share your adoration of chestnuts. And Polvorones. It is such a shame that we (Americans) dont embrace the rich meaty heaven of chestnuts more often. Great job. These cookies will be in my belly shortly.
Completely in love with this post! There ARE things that are just too much work to make at home–Bravo for saying it out loud!
I love the flavor of chestnuts, but don’t particularly enjoy the texture. They remind me of giant dense chickpeas! But this…now this I could get into! They look like they have a wonderful texture. Thanks again for another lovely recipe!
I grew up with chestnut dressing every year for Thanksgiving (and Christmas if we had turkey.) I well remember the pain of peeling chestnuts.
Unless you insist on having them roasted, try cutting an X in them and popping them in the microwave- works great! You will need to experiment with the time, but I would begin with 15 seconds, then 30, then 45. I can’t quite remember what the time was, but honestly zapping them makes all the difference in the world.
The reason I can’t remember the time is because we have gone to the jarred chestnuts- which are just fine for stuffing.
Darn, should have added they still need to be peeled when zapped in the microwave, but it really is much easier.
Noticed chestnut flour at Whole Foods yesterday and (despite being intrigued) had no CLUE what it might be good for… Now I have a reason to go pick some up!
Wow…I’m sold on this one, but may have to wait until next year simply to save my less chestnut-loving family from overload! Any chance we could have metric weights for the brits among us bY then, deb? Please consider making that a permanent feature as far as possible -it’s a real help, and a bonus point for your site when it crops up.
Regardless, this is a lovely way to channel the festive spirit :)
I just began my evening ritual of roasted chestnuts as they have just appeared in our shops. They are a glorious crop this year! Plump and firm. I always soak my in water all day before roasting them in the evening. makes them easy to peel and all the more delicious..
The easiest option is to poach them in milk until you can make a slit in the skin (10 minutes or so) then roast them. Chestnuts here in England are very small this year, so most of the ones we see in the shops are imported. Then roast them as you would normally- I like to use the foil trays with holes in meant for barbeques.
Of course, you could just buy the vacuum-packed ones and toast them.
I think others have mentioned it, but boiling chestnuts is the way to go for easy skin removal. I’ve never had a problem getting them out in one piece. You can also get chestnuts with the skin removed (also boiled I think) from Asian grocery stores. I don’t think you can use them in this recipe, but you may be able to work them for your candied nuts. I’m sure you can dry them out at a very low temp as well if need be.
I love roasted chestnuts (though I am chary enough with them that I’m not convinced on the cookies — they do look good, though). But back to marrons glaces (which are, in fact, fabulous) — could you make them with the vacuum packed peeled chestnuts? Or some facsimile thereof? I don’t have time for excessive experimentation, so I rely on YOU, Deb.
That said, if you are a chestnut fiend, you should find some paste and make my recipe for Nesselrode pie.
I’m wondering what the texture of these are. Are they soft inside? Or crispy like russian tea cakes made with pecans or walnuts?
(I love chestnuts too and love these kind of cookies!)
Comment #83 has it right. Watch the youtube video.
But I always boil mine with a little sugar and a few anise stars. Couldn’t be better.
I loved roasted chestnut from the street vendors in NYC in the 60’s, and they were easy to peel. Just came back from Italy last month, where I bought some on the street, but they were much harder to peel than I remembered. Tried again when I got back to CA, and they were a real PITA, even trying to peel them hot out of the oven. Made a chestnut/Brussell sprout/cream dish for a pot luck last week with the peeled chestnuts which are vacuum packed in foil 4oz pkgs sold in Chinese markets, and the recipe called for breaking up the chestnuts by hand. (They were delicious.) I think the texture was just fine, and would work with this cookie recipe by simply drying off the surface of the nuts. I always buy them at the Asian markets where they are dirt cheap compared to all the other American stores.
Great! We gathered a basket full in the park and now we can do something delicious with them. Can’t wait to try some of these ideas.
Have you ever had roasted japanese sweet potatoes? They taste just like chestnuts! We get them at the Park Slope Food Coop in Brooklyn so I’d guess you can find them at farmer’s markets or whole foods in Manhattan (I think the “japanese” part is in name–not that they’re just sweet potatoes imported from Japan but I don’t actually know!).
Love your blog. Very inspiring.
What a cool recipe! I live in Portugal and chestnuts are on the menu all through Fall and Winter: eaten roasted or boiled, on their own or mixed in with other types of food :) Can I give you a suggestion? For added flavour and easier peeling, line your pan with coarse sea salt before you roast them!
I can’t wait to try this recipe! I am a chestnut grower in California, and much of our crop ends up getting shipped to the East Coast, so who knows…you may have had some of ours this season…I hope so!
A couple of things I wanted to share with you & your readers about chestnut peeling options:
~I like to peel them raw after they have had a chance to dry slightly (one or two days unrefrigerated)…they are usually dry enough to do this if they are unrefrigerated in the produce store. They will have a slight “give” to the thumb, and it will feel like there is an air pocket.
~Raw peeled chestnuts can be thrown in a ziplock back in your freezer and used throughout the holidays (I use them as you do with brussels sprouts, Thanksgiving stuffing, and Christmas sweets of all kinds). It makes it easier to cook with them spontaneously while retaining the FRESHNESS. Vacuum packed nuts have a different texture because of the intense process of mechanized peeling…they do get very cooked during that processing.
~It’s worth it to have the (one-trick) chestnut knife. It doesn’t take up much room but makes the job easier. I dull the tip of mine with a rasp and use it for picking at the sometimes hard to remove pellicle (inner skin).
~I agree with your statement to start with excess nuts, because some percentage of the nuts (10-15%) will be just about unpeelable! I end up doing those as you would a potato, just cut the skin off with your blade.
My final tip: use some sort of protection for your fingers, especially if you are peeling nuts while they are hot (which is a must, or the pellicle re-sticks when they cool off). For peeling them raw, I wrap each of my thumbs with a small bandaid BEFORE I start peeling. It really makes the process a lot more pleasant!
Thanks again for a wonderful recipe adaptation and for loving fresh CHESTNUTS!
The step after “Gently toss warm cookies in cinnamon sugar to coat completely” will undoubtedly be “pop into your mouth, pretend you’re in Paris and it’s lightly snowing, and sink into an abyss of utter happiness.” Yes, I think I like that step :)
These look wonderful! Thanks :)
How I love chestnuts and these types of cookies. I can’t wait to combine them and try this recipe! By the way, I too love chestnut paste and looked for it endlessly a few years ago (it was an all day adventure). However I’ve noticed lately that it seems to be on all the shelves in Brooklyn specialty food shops these days– it seems to be the thing this year.
I found peeled frozen chestnuts at Trader Joe’s once. I roasted them -not as good as the chestnuts in their skins but not too bad either.
I’m going to have to try these. I had never had a chestnut until I started dating my now husband, whose family makes chestnut stuffing at the holidays. I actually really enjoy peeling chestnuts, almost as much as I enjoy eating the chestnut stuffing.
My parents loved travelling to Asia when my sister and I were growing up. I remember they would sell warm chestnuts in brown paper bags on the streets of Hong Kong. My sister and I would devour them! I grew up in California and didn’t go to NYC until I was 30 and was so disappointed that you could get all sorts of things on the streets of NYC but NOT warm chestnuts! Why are chestnuts so rare here in the USA?
Mmmmm, Deb, we just made these with Pecans from the silver palate cookbook where they’re billed as “butterballs” although your version sounds DIVINE. . .love the roasted chestnuts!!! My 3 1/2 year old son happily proclaimed “it’s snowingon my shirt!” when he ate one.
These are so Christmas! I love ’em! In Texas, we call ’em Mexican wedding cookies like you said, but for some reason we dye ’em green. We dyed ’em red once and decided they looked like meatballs…green it is!
Thank you SO much for sharing your story of Chestnut Paste vs Airport Security because I was going to take cookie dough to Texas for Christmas & bake there. Now I know I’ll have to choose cookies that I can bake at home which will keep a few days. Happy Holidays!
I am SO making these. We love roasted chestnuts in our house – Trader Joe’s sells them seasonally, Italian Chestnuts – which are fantastic and I buy them in stacks of 6 boxes at a time. They are everyone’s favorite and our house has a permanent smokiness to it until they are no longer available.
You would love this time of the year on the French/Italian Riviera – which is the home of all thing chestnut. My husband’s family lives there, and when we visit around this time, my first stop is for marron glaces. They have chestnut-flour crepes, chestnut jam, and chestnut anything really.
I highly suggest the area for a visit (Menton, Ventimiglia, SanRemo) – very family friendly too!
Lately I’ve been reading your blog. Love your original recipies and the apealing photografs that you post inspire any person to cook your delicious food :)
I’ve been wondering what to do with the big box of bulk chestnuts that randomly show up at our local Stop ‘n Shop, and I think this is the solution :)
I can’t wait to make these this weekend. Chestnuts are overly abundant in my area, for whatever weird reason, there are even a few farms not too far over the NY border that sell ’em too, with the obligatory pine trees.
Deb, re: NYC suppliers, I bought gorgeous fresh chestnuts at Manhattan Fruit Exchange (Chelsea Mkt) just the other week. They also had jarred roasted and purees (I think both sweetened and not, but don’t hold me to it). Buon Italia (also in the Mkt) has frozen roasted, some kind of puree and also chestnut flour. And the other day I saw multiple types of chestnut products in Kalustyan.
It’s true that you mostly see them around the holidays. I was surprised to see some fresh ones at a deli today. I like buying them canned and adding them sliced to sauteeing brussel sprouts along with a little maple syrup (for good measure)!
i think they are less popular here because all the chestnut trees were wiped out in a blight in the early 1900’s! the tradition of eating them is still strong in Europe, but it died out here since they were less available. since the trees are coming back, so is our taste for them.
From wikipedia “By 1940, mature American chestnut trees were virtually wiped out by the disease.”
I’ve tried roasting and peeling chestnuts and found it to bee a pain in the neck. I also wasn’t that fond of the flavor. Maybe I didn’t do it right. I do however make these cookies every year. One batch is made with ground pecans and almond extract. The dough is then wrapped around maraschio cherries that have been cut in half and well drained. I also make a batch without the cherries. The almond extract is really tasty.
Roasted Chestnut Cookies just has Christmas written all over it. Wonderful little morsels, I must make this for Xmas.
I agree, fresh-roasted chestnuts are the most delicious thing on earth! (Top 20, anyway.) Every year I make a wonderful chestnut lentil soup that’s *almost* worth the hassle of the peeling. I really hate the peeling. Anyway, I would love to try these cookies and am wondering if anyone tried Michelle’s suggestion of using the pre-peeled vacuum-packed chestnuts. I was thinking of the same thing.
I will try these in Hawaii where the sugar hates me and I can never get the dough to be how I like it because it’s so dang hot. Oh well. I will still make them.
ok, folks; here’s our updated, talking video for the new peeling method.
This is the “long version”, for enthusiasts (which would seem to be most of the people here). It doesn’t include the 2nd method; because YouTube thought it was too long…
So, I cut the video in two, and will be posting Method 2 as soon as I can.
I need to see if one of my friends has chestnuts. He can get them from his father, and I didn’t take him up on the offer last year when we ran the Applefest Half in his hometown. More fool I.
These bring back such wonderful memories for me!
Or you should live in Japan — they put chestnuts in everything that’s a sweet it seems like — hellacious if you can’t stand the pasty taste. :-P
And; here is method 2; which is for peeling whole, roasted nuts. NO SILLY X!!
Do let me know what you think.
The photos show powdered sugar, but the recipe says to roll the cookies in cinnamon sugar. I’m sure they are both delicious, but which is it?
Amani — The “cinnamon sugar” is 1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar with a few pinches of cinnamon in it.
Hi! My dad was fond of chestnuts – he was Italian and must have had them as a child (he was born here). I think I was the only one of my siblings that liked them.
I have tried microwaving them – if I recall correctly, you still have to slit the shell, but the microwave process seems to help push off the fuzzy part of the shell. I don’t remember the timing details, but I imagine the information is out there.
I used to have a special knife for piercing the shells. It was a small curved blade that looked something like the knives used for cutting linoleum. It turned out to be useful for things like opening packages and so of course got lost. I also have a special gadget that pierces the shell by holding it and then closing the handle (something like how a garlic press works).
My Grandfather (who was French :o), used to always make us a chestnut chocolate cake in Autumn. He passed away summer 2009, in his honour my sister, grandmother and i made the ‘bûche de marrons aux chocolat’ (with chestnuts from his garden) that autumn. This year we didn’t, my grandmother moved so we didn’t have the chestnut galore we used to have. But i might have to make your -less time consuming, less chestnut consuming- cookies this Christmas just feel him being there as well. I’m sure it’s going to be a success, my whole family is crazy about roasted chestnuts (and that’s definitely my grandfather’s fault), we never eat them raw :o)
These are pictures of 2008, where he teached me and my sister the secret recipe he learned from his mom: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sarahbinnemans/sets/72157607496438121/with/3042659221/
Mmm, Marrons Glaces = heaven on earth. They are also my favorite gelato flavor which I can’t find here, either. I keep trying to talk my local gelateria into it. Have you made (I’m sure you have) Nigella’s chocolate chestnut cake? Oh, and panettone with marrons glaces? Yum!
Mmm, yummm. :) The best chestnuts that I’ve had were on the streets in Italy! :) They tasted like warm, nutty potatoes to me. Perfect to warm up in the cold!
You are absolutely right! I grew up with chestnut, cooked and eaten under any form and in almost any season. I grew up in Italy, with my mom roasting them on the stove almost every night from October to January and sometimes making them steemed and peeled (my favorite way to eat them!). They are so underestimated in the US. Thanks for sharing this post and making me a bit nostalgic
This blog has officially become my exam time study break escape! Thank you! These look/sound delicious, can’t wait to try this recipe as well as many others :)
Oh oh oh oh oh! Guess what? There’s an italian shop inside of Chelsea Market in NY that totally carries chestnut paste (and pistachio paste if you’re willing to donate a kidney…that stuff is expensive!). They also have a jar of Nutella the size of a small child. Just so you know.
You are officially my hero. And I hear ya on the chestnut paste. I made the excruciatingly painful decision not to buy any on my trip in case it was confiscated. They however did not manage to catch my jars of jam, which made it even more painful considering I might have gotten away with it. And now I can only find the paste in a lovely boutique in Sydney for about four times the cost. I’m so throwing caution to the wind next time and just going for it. I did attempt to make marrons glaces at home once. That went well. Cough.
I live in a country where chestnuts, roasted chestnuts, chestnut paste, marron glacés abund and you can even buy peeled, boiled chestnuts at the supermarket and I still love them as much as you do. So this is the recipe for me. I am flying over to NYC in a week. Would you like me to bring over some paste? I will stick it in my suitcase. All you have to do is come uptown to pick it up (and bring little Jacob to meet my little guy). Deal?
Deb, I’ve thought about taking the basic RTC recipe using walnuts and adding minced cranberry and orange zest. I’d love your thoughts on this.
I see your recipe calls for rolling the balls in cinnamon sugar and then cooling completely. RTC were a standard in my home growing up and we always rolled twice — once after the 5 minute wait, which made the melted frosting, and another roll after the cookies were cooler, which made a snowy, powdery finish. Caveat: if you do them this way, don’t inhale as you take a bite or you may end up coughing from the inhaled powdered sugar. Worth the risk, though. Happy holidays, Deb! Love, love, love your site!
I’ve never had a chestnut or even seen one in real life. But now I’ve seen two recipes using chestnuts in less than a week, so it must be a sign that I’m meant to try them.
Also, these are my favorite holiday cookies, but, being from Texas, I usually make them with pecans (our state tree!). I’m looking forward to trying a new twist on them, if I can find some chestnuts!
I love chestnuts. I changed from my mom’s bread stuffing to Williams Sonoma Chestnut, Sage and Pear dressing, because it was so amazingly good! (Forgive me, Mom…) I grew up with roasted chestnuts and there is nothing better!
Too many comments to read all of them so forgive me if I am repeating information already stated. I have “roasted” chesnuts in the oven several times and experienced some of the problems mentioned above. This year I used my serated bread knife to cut the flat side of the nut( which seemed to give me more control and held the nut better). I also stopped worrying so much about not cutting into the nut (which did not happen) which allowed me to really get through the shell. Big X and more than one if the nut is an odd shape. They all came out of the shell and most of them in one piece. I did peel them still warm, that makes it easier, if they are too hard it is recommended to briefly reheat in the oven. Also, I have seen bulk chesnuts for sale in the vegetable shop at Chelsea passage/Market, Styles in midtown (cheap), Fairway and almost all other better food and grocery stores at this time of year. If you can’t find them, ask management where they are. Like chesnuts and LOVE Russian Tea cookies. I have made them and they are good but really the best and most decadent RTCs that I have had are the supersize ones sold in three packs at Whole Foods. I definitely do not love many of their baked goods, but these are great. Butter, nuts, sugar and flour. I asked WF bakers for their specific RTC recipe, but they hesitated to divulge. Maybe for you?
In my family, we call these cookies Moldy Mice!
your humor is spot-on and i agree with you absolutely about the beautiful, season-long availability of chestnuts in europe. i lived in spain and from october onward there are sooty gentlement roasting chestnuts in the streeet and the smell is… exquisite! glory.
I grew up in Switzerland and I loved roasted Chestnuts in the fall and winter. That is one of the many things I miss dearly every year still! This recipe looks delicious and I’ll have to try it since I share your delight for Chestnuts. Thanks for the great inspiration and love your writing style.
These sound absolutely wonderful, I got to try them. In my country roasted chestnuts are traditional winter food – absolutely essential to eat those in st Martin´s Day (11th November) and then throughout winter.
One tip: for easier peeling, and also to keep the roasted chestnuts moist, try cutting them a little bit differently. They need to be cut pre-roasting or they explode, but try cutting very gently just the little bit of tip, making sure you are cutting also through the inner skin. This keeps them much moister and will keep them whole much easier if you want them whole for marron glacés. After roasting, with the tip of a knife push the inner and outer skin carefully.
You can find roasted chestnuts in any Chinese market, like 99 Ranch, Ocean, Lion, Marina, etc. They are sold both peeled and with the skins intact, for those of you paranoid about how processing affects taste and texture. I think that’s pure snobbery and that they’re fabulous, but then I am rather biased. They are in fact made without preservatives (in fact, they taste just like the ones roasted in hot rocks on the streets in Beijing).They’re also cheap.
Any textural difference between how you make them in your oven and how they turn out from the package is only a regional difference. If you prefer your chestnuts drier you can just lay the cooked chestnuts on a baking sheet and toast. Personally, I prefer the moister texture, since it’s what I grew up with.
Yum! I am thinking of making these for my cookie party….I love Russian teacakes and chestnuts.
A quick trick i learned a few years ago about peeling chestnuts… that REALLY works. Freeze them for about an hour before roasting them and the inner skin comes off really easily. Score them and roast them the same way you usually would. There is a huge difference.
These cookies sound amazing, cant wait to try them.
@Philip Rutter: Thanks so much for that video! Can’t wait to buy some chestnuts and try your method! I do have a question: you mentioned roasting the shelled, parboiled nut halves at 350 degrees — and warned against over-roasting them — but can you suggest a length of time? General, ball-park? Thanks.
Yvonne, :-) general ballpark- 15 minutes? It depends not only on the size of the nuts, but your taste about the finished product; do you like some crunch left, or do you want them roasted all the way to softness? And ovens vary… Really, someone needs to take on the horrible task of testing and tasting, to be sure.
I wasn’t actually just hanging around here waiting! Just lucky in popping in right when you asked.
I just uploaded a short, just-the-facts-ma’am version of the video; both techniques included. I don’t sing, on this one, so your ears are safe.
Teresa, 199 – where did you learn the trick about cutting just the tip??!! You’re the ONLY person I’ve ever run into who knew that- and here I was thinking I’d thought it up myself… (snif snif)
I adore roasted chestnuts and am terrible at peeling them. I don’t think my fingers have become accustomed to the burning sensation while trying to peel them just yet. This looks like a wonderful spin on an old favorite!
@Philip Rutter: Thanks — and I love your voice. I’ve been one of those chestnut-avoiding folk (yes! there was…an incident!), but now I am inspired by Deb’s cookie recipe to face my fear. Your video and the above general time recommendation have given me all kinds of wild courage and confidence, and 2011 is sure to be the Year of the Chestnut chez nous. :)
I have roasted chestnuts for many years and always had a bit of trouble peeling them after they were cooked.
Now that I’m older and have some arthritis in my hands, I was having lots of trouble peeling the nuts last year. Out of desperation, I got out my Dremel tool and put a small, 1/4 inch rotary blade on it. I held the nuts in one hand (with a towel in my hand for gripping) and ran the Dremel tool across the nut’s surface.
It worked amazingly well and after a few nuts I learned how deep to push the blade into the shell so I did not scar the nut. I know it sounds funny and may even detract from the festive, holiday atmosphere associated with chestnuts, but my method really worked.
Sharing it here in case others have some kind of hand/grip problem.
In case anyone wants to try this recipe with pre-peeled chestnuts I made them today with jarred ones. I chopped and measured them, then put them in a pan to toast and get some of the moisture out. Once that was done and they cooled a bit I went ahead with the recipe as stated and they came out great.
Larry – thanks for the wonderful hint about using the Dremel. I think it will help many, many folks who love chestnuts but feared they could no longer have them. How wonderful that you gave them a way to enjoy chestnuts again!
SadhviSez, thanks for the link to your blog. I browsed through it before typing in chestnuts in the search box and found your blog to be delightful. I enjoyed reading your tips about roasting chestnuts. Thanks so much.
Also – that chestnut and bacon stuffing recipe is going into my Recipes to Try folder! Sounds so delicious and easy!
Aww, I’m sorry to hear about the chestnut paste confiscation! Great sympathy from one chestnut lover to another. :-S I sort of didn’t remember and managed to smuggle a paper bag full of roasted chestnuts (from China) from Hong Kong, to a connector flight in Detroit, and finally to Toronto! I am shocked that the airport security, especially in the US, didn’t grab them, along with the other random, odd snacks (dried tangerine peel strips, handmade Chinese candy) in my carry-on… delicious on my 24-h journey back to Canada though! Anyway, your recipe looks delightful! Mmm, chestnuts!
Phillip, sorry then :( But it´s funny how round the world techniques and recipes evolve independently.
I learnt it from somebody who learnt it from a chestnut seller, it´s a way they cut it in Portugal´s Beira Alta, around a place called Fundão – they know chestnuts there, it used to be main food source for winter, before potatos and maize were introduced. The best chestnuts and cherries I ever had both came from the same region, and I adore both chestnuts and cherries. Beautiful trees both as well.
Hi, Deb. Just wanted to thank you for this blog. I love it. Your recipes introduce me to new things, or just make old favorites more delicious.
This past year has been such a joy as you have allowed all your readers to watch little Jacob grow. (I keep wondering how you will hyperlink to adorble photos of the little man on the pages of the new cookbook :) )
I appreciate the smiles your writing always brings to my face, and the food your recipes bring to my belly.
Hope the rest of 2010 is blessed!
Teresa – My family is also from Portugal (Tras-Os-Montes) and that’s how we always cut our chestnuts! And, you must play the “Bom Dia Filipina” game when get two whole chestnuts in one shell.
Teresa: I’m not wounded. It’s just I’ve been kind of astonished at how little variation there is from the “cut an x” thing, all around the world. HUGE thanks for the detailed information on origins there. Chestnuts are indeed an ancient staple, everywhere they grow; chestnut flatbread is actually older than wheat; older than anything else except chickpea bread, according to the old Galloping Gourmet. Something I keep waiting for is for the foodies (any here? :-)) to discover that polenta- was was made from ground dried chestnuts for a thousand years or so before maize crossed the Atlantic. You can find chestnut polenta recipes floating about, but so far the ones I’ve found are just for adding a bit of chestnut flour to the maize.
Sadhvi: I was aware of the circular cut method, but thought it was mostly found in Turkey and adjacent areas. It’s gorgeous; works great, but takes more skill than most beginners have. Was this traditional in your part of Switzerland?
Nancy: You’re killing me! :-) I’m tickled to know the prep method extends to your part of Portugal; but I’m desperate to know what the “Bom dia Filipina” game is! Particularly since as I was googling about I found a blog with that name, in Portugese- with a picture of chestnuts at the top. This is a bit of chestnut lore that had escaped me. It hits another area of interest for me, children’s cultures. Can you tell us how it’s played? Please?
These cookies look delicious! Thanks for sharing. Chestnuts bring back many childhood memories from Lyon (not Paris… but close enough). We’d buy fire-roasted chestnuts in a little paper cone made of newspaper, right in the street, during the annual “chestnut fair” (La vogue des marrons).
I made these delights last night. People, Deb was not lying — these are outrageous, and have just made their way to the top of my list of Christmas cookie favorites. MAKE THESE!!!!
I’ve never roasted chestnuts before. Thank you for showing how easy it is! These cookies look fun and I’m sure taste delish!
Nancy- incidentally; I’ve got a couple of chestnut trees that ALWAYS have a very high percentage of “doubles” as we call them; 40% or so. Do you suppose there would be a special market for them in Portugal? :-) (not entirely serious, but…)
Hungarian cooking uses chestnuts a fair amount in deserts. Growing up our neighbor had several chestnut trees and would let my Hungarian grandmother use as many as she wanted. She always made a fabulous cake using ground chestnuts and topped with melted chocolate. She would also make palacsinta filled with chestnut whipped cream (ground chestnuts+whipped cream=HEAVEN). The horrid woman who bought our neighbor’s house after she died cut down the chestnuts because she didn’t want to “deal with them”. I miss those trees.
i love chestnuts! i have been buying them in abundance and been looking for things to make with them, so far i made some sunchoke and chestnut gratin and cream of chestnut soup, next: your cookies!
Deb! I wish we could trade places. I want a root beer float and triscuits and can’t get them because I live in France (although not in Paris), where your ideas of year-round chestnut extravaganzas are pretty accurate. Come visit and get yourself some marron sui (chestnut mousse), chestnut biscuits, chestnut stuffing, chestnut EVERYTHING. Thought about your chestnut hankering as I did my grocery shopping today and looked for something I could send you, but sheesh, everything with chestnuts in it is really heavy!
Yum. I too love coming home with foodie souvenirs.
Just arrived in S.F from Paris for the holidays with cans of chestnut paste(you would love the tart I make with it :-) … and vacuum packed chestnuts (they are dry) …and cheese (vacuum-packed!), wine, among other French delights!.. I’m an expert smuggler… The beagle’s got nothing on me… at least not yet!
In a word -or 2: checked luggage!
For anyone heading to Paris: go to the chocolatier Cacao et Chocolat. There is one in the Marais district. There special chocolate this month is, of course, filled with pieces of glazed chestnuts. To die for.
Recipe looks great, Deb, thanks for the wonderful idea.
Someone might have already pointed this out, but you can get chestnut paste at some Williams-Sonoma stores. I live in Seattle and work at a Williams-Sonoma that carries the jar. Let me know if you want me to send you one!
Lizzie (long time reader, first time commenter)
I made these with whole peeled chesnuts (jarred, Italian) and used bourbon instead of vanilla. I used cardamon and a little cinnamon. Amazing. Warm from the oven they taste like the middle of a really good, warm, french croissant – yum.
I was excited to make these, and then I started peeling the chestnuts and realized that I may have a problem. I don’t know what exactly a rotten chestnut looks like! Some were clearly rotten (a worm, white mildew, etc.) but others looked just discolored. Is a little brown discoloration in a nut that otherwise looks okay considered rotten? Or does the whole nut need to be a uniform color? Thank you!
If only, if only I had the skill to make cookies actually come out right. Those look superb.
I just made Russian/Mexican/Whatever tea cakes from your recipe, like three days ago! This is so serendipitous. I can’t wait to try this version (because I’m already ready for more, of course).
My sugar always melts so much that the outside of the cookie gets really gooey and hard to pick up. Will this not be the case once they cool completely? (because I never wait that long). I’ve always solved the problem by rolling them again a little later, which results in a scary amount of sugar-usage.
Deb: “it will be best if we keep comments on the topic of the cookies and how they worked out for you.”
Totally sensible. I was worried about “hijacking” already. :-) If people do want to get back to me about my non-cookie questions, I’d be greatly pleased if they could make their comments on my blog; just click on my name. Thanks, Deb; and all.
great ! it’s a very good cookies. thank’s for your recipe
I just made these…dang they are great! Just to let everyone know, Trader Joes sells cooked and vacuum sealed chesnuts..this is what I used. I also just used pMupkin pie spice in the cookie. They are just lovely and I welcome steer from the normal cookie I bake.
Thanks, I have tried so many of your recipes and have always had success!
You can get chestnut paste at Whole Foods and even better, whole roasted, peeled chestnuts. Is that cheating? :)
Thanks for this amazing recipe! Just baked these cakes as part of our xmas preparations (tradition requires at least 7 types of bisquits over in Sweden where we are based). I am sure family and friends will be over excited about them. Merry xmas and thank you for an amazing blog!
Always soak the chestnuts before roasting them. Ideally over night, if you don’t have that much time, an hour or two will also already make a difference. That’s the whole trick there is to roasting chestnuts and you won’t have any more troubles peeling them. The ones you still can’t peel after that have usually gone bad already.
Made these Friday for a small gathering and figured half the batch would do it. Oh no, 15 minutes later the plate was empty and I tossed the other half in the oven. That plate disappeared just as quickly! Fortunately I tasted one before putting them out or I would have had no first-hand knowledge of the deliciousness!
I made these cookies yesterday with vacuum packed chestnuts. Since they do seem a little more moist than regular roasted chestnuts, I chopped them and let them sit on a baking sheet overnight to dry them out more. They chopped up fine in my processor.
although… I think that the resulting taste of the cookies is very mellow – I can’t really taste the nuts! I used about 1 cup of the nuts – so a little more than called for (I had them chopped – so why not?!?).
I love these, but have never made them with roasted chesnuts by the fire!
These are wonderful. The only deviation I made was to flatten them a bit into discs. Absolutely delicious. I think next time though, I’ll add a bit more spices/salt and increase the chestnut to butter ratio a bit. I intend to make these again this week :).
I’ve been on a chestnut kick lately so I’m sure to be making these soon.
My mom makes these cookies during xmas but has always used walnuts. they were always my favorites too and i always requested them. i just bought fresh chestnuts at Fairway last week–i had never bought them, much less eaten them. after roasting them i totally understand what all the commotion is about (when i was in france and switzerland they were *everywhere*)! i am chilling the dough right now. i’m so excited to make these cookies! thank you for posting this recipe!
These came out so great! And I cannot believe how amazing my whole house smelled while roasting the chestnuts! I did find that the sugar didn’t really stick to the outside, but just a dusting was pretty tasty.
Such a delicious treat! I have plentiful of chestnuts at hand, now I know how to put them into good use, thanks for sharing :-)
What a festive idea to use chestnuts!
I ate my first chestnuts last week, and didn’t know what they were supposed to look like peeled, so I accidentally took off the hard outer layer but left a nice hairy skin on the nut. Not. Delicious. It went a little better the second time around, but gosh.. peeling them was hard! I’ll take a another commenters suggestion and soak them beforehand if I ever do these myself. The cookies look absolutely scrumptious!
Every year I have made these cookies in some form and some years 3-4 times, and usually always pecan peices are used. The dough without the nuts makes a good pie crust too, and a nice crumbly topping. The dough is one of the most versitile and easy to make to me. I have some advice:
If you know someone allergic to nuts, substitute oats!…This will give those the same affect as biting into the cookie with such, but enable them to enjoy the cookie that they may have had to avoid in the past. For a more spring/summer version, omit the nuts and add lemon/orange/lime rinds/juice (Use your judgement on how much, it can vary, for one batch I would say the entire lemon lemon/lime rind, but half for the orange, and the juice to be a full lemon/lime, half for orange) for a light refressing kick (awesome with lemonade, tea, and sure some way you can do some liquior with that…). You can also keep the nuts, add dried cranberries on top of that for a more hearty cookie. Rebecca has it down with the chocolate too!
—Also I tend to make large amounts, and at times a large spoon does not cut it, get your hands in there and start rolling! Usually I would bake at 400-410 °F and bake 12-15 minutes for a cookie that is at or less than 1 inch width rolled.
I used your recipe on my blog. thanks again
I just made these with some leftover chestnuts I had roasted and then frozen previously. They’re so good! My only complaint is that I can’t get the sugar to coat on them as thickly as Deb has in the picture. Still, they’re great, and my boyfriend loves them too!
A friend just pointed me to your blog. Great recipes, congratulations.
I’m surprised at a few of the things you posted, about difficulty of finding ingredients.
Don’t you live in New York? When you write “I did not go to every stand in Union Square on every day that the Greenmarket was open, but I looked once or twice and didn’t find [pearl onions]” and complain that you can’t find chestnuts, I wonder what kind of world you really live in.
I live just over the river, in Bergen County, NJ, and I can find pearl onions (grown in NJ) and chestnuts (imported from Italy) in the supermarkets, at the right time of year. And until last winter’s snow made the roof collapse on one of my favourite stores, I could find the Clément Faugier brand of “crème de marrons” and “purée de châtaignes” all year round. That store is being rebuilt, right now, so in a few months’ time I should be able to get them again easily. But there’s always mail-order and teh intarwebs. Or I could wait until the next time I go up to Québec or Montréal… Not Clément Faugier brand but just as good.
Keith — Where did I say I could not find chestnuts? I rarely see chestnut paste. I know where to find it (specialty stores), but also I live in NYC where it’s easy to find anything; this is not the norm; it’s not exactly a commonly found or used ingredient in this country. Your comment sounds awfully judgmental. Not sure why, but I do hope that you enjoy the cookies. They are destined for chestnut lovers like us.
I am going to try this with some dried chestnuts (reconstituted, then I think I’ll put them in the oven to toast and get that toasty flavor… I got them from Ladd Hill farms) and will probably add some chestnut flour I have to boost that chestnut flavor even more!!
I just want to mention that I have often seen asian markets carry chestnuts. Roasting chestnuts was a yearly tradition when I was a kid. I seem to recall that mom roasted them on a baking sheet over coals. I haven’t had them in years. And I love tea cake cookies. I will put this recipe on my “gotta try this sometime” list. Thanks for sharing.
Thank you for another great recipe! This chestnut cookie recipe looks so wonderful and I have no doubt it tastes good, too. I want to make it for Christmas..
Hi Deb! I love your website, so many wonderful recipes and beautiful pictures. I made a recipe almost exactly like yours, except with pecans, that I got from a friend a few years ago. However, my “pecan snowballs” didn’t stay in balls – they spread out a bit. Could you tell me why? This recipe called for the balls to be formed, then to refrigerate for 30 minutes before baking…perhaps not chilled enough? Any help is appreciated, thank you!
Hi Amy — Actually, there are a lot of reasons cookies can spread. I summarized a few over here. Hope that helps.
Hi Deb, I was wondering if you think these would freeze ok once cooked, and whether you would coat them in the powdered sugar before or after freezing? I’m worried that if coated beforehand the condensation as they thaw would just make a sticky mess with the sugar…. darned family living on opposite sides of the state making fresh baked cookies impossible! Thanks.
Oooh, and sorry to spam you, but here in Australia the best we can do for chestnuts at this time of year are frozen, peeled and unroasted ones. I am thawing some as I type, and then will guess a roasting time as I cannot find any information about roasting these, even from the producer… If anyone has any suggestions they’d be appreciated, otherwise I will post here on how I went!
Hi there, great recipe! Do you think the dough could be made, rolled into balls and frozen, then bake the frozen balls? Or would you need to let them thaw first? Thanks.
I found this video on youtube that was super helpful with the whole peeling chestnuts thing.
This recipe looks incredible and I will have to give it a try for Christmas. Love the photos with the step by step instructions.
Any idea what the weight of the chestnuts comes to after being peeled? I just roasted and peeled mine to make this recipe and now I realize it calls for a pound before peeling.
The Bird Cage — Sorry, didn’t check it.
Thanks Deb! Happy holidays and happy new year to you and your family!
These are lovely! I just made them and FYI, if you have a food scale, 15-16 grams per dough ball will do it for you.
Curious to know if you tested this recipe with browned butter? After I made these yesterday with some local organic chestnuts from Cohen Farm in Chatham County, NC I found a similar recipe that calls for browned butter and thought it might be interesting. If I have enough left from a soup recipe today, I may try another batch and let you know how the flavor changes.
Just made these last night and they were divine. Hopefully there will be some left for my allergic-to-chocolate Grandmother come Christmas after my husband and I are done! Thanks, Deb!
To me, the chestnuts were really chewy–almost stale. In the cookies, I didn’t grind them as finely as indicated because I like the crunchy texture normally, but the chestnut bits were just too chewy. Did I get bad chestnuts? Not roast them long enough? Are chestnuts supposed to be chewy-ish?
What should I make if I actually do have a can of sweetened chestnut paste? These look amazing but I brought a can of the ‘creme de marrons’ (sweetened chestnut spread) back from the french alps last year with the intention of making some form of chestnut cake amazingness but still have had no success in finding the perfect recipe! Any suggestions?
Delicious roasted chestnuts and sweet Italian Vin Santo are a divine combination on a cold winter evening! These cookies would fit inperfectly!
I’m a first time chestnut roaster and I had a couple of mishaps (although the cookies still turned out delicious). When I was roasting the chestnuts, after only 10 minutes or so, they started exploding in my oven. After I realized that there were no gun shots happening in my neighborhood, I took them out. I wasn’t sure if they were done or not, the shell didn’t really start peeling back yet, but I was nervous to put them back in the oven. Is this normal? Is it possible that the chestnuts I got were bad in some way? Anyone have any ideas?
Thanks and Happy Holidays!
I made these the other night and they came out great, this is hands down my favorite cookie but I’ve never made them with chestnuts. Do the chestnuts get hard after a few days? I either used ones that weren’t good after roasting, or they got hard a little later because some of the cookies are crunchier than expected! delicious none the less.
I was just wondering if I should use salted or unsalted butter.
enza — Unsalted. Normally, it’s your preference (though when not specified, people generally mean unsalted) but these cookies have so little sugar inside, salted might throw off the balance.
I was a little confused by the top/bottom of a Chestnut thing. After nearly hacking my fingers off trying to score the beast, my wife chimed in, “wouldn’t it be easier on the point side?” I think that terminology may be a little better. Thanks for the recipe. Rest assured, I still have 10 (attached) fingers.
I made the roasted chestnut cookies for my family’s “Dustball Throwdown” we’re having on Christmas Eve. They turned out really well! http://i.imgur.com/5S184.jpg Here’s to hoping I win. Thanks for the recipe!
These were amazing – a huge xmas party hit. I felt lazy about roasting chestnuts but found a fab Trader Joe’s product – pre-cooked, pre-peeled chestnuts. I just ground these in a food processor and they worked perfectly. They’re a little pricey, but one package, once ground, is nearly a cup–they weigh much less once the shells are off. But, yes, these were completely wonderful and everyone was way impressed.
Thank you for sharing such a great recipe. I love chestnut and i love cookies too. So thought this would be a great recipe to try. i just tried it and it is delicioussss. Thanks again.
Happy Holidays! Fantastic cookies! Just got them out of the oven and half are already gone, and the dog is sitting there begging for some himself… :) Another great recipe!
I just made two batches of these – one vegan, one not. For the non-vegan batch I added about teaspoons of whiskey. They came out pretty yummy but I honestly can’t tell that they have chestnut in them. Maybe after they mellow out (they’re still cooling) the taste will be more pronounced.
For the vegan batch I used Earth Balance. I ran out of vanilla so I just added a lot of whiskey, like way too much whiskey. I like boozy cookies. I also didn’t feel like measuring anything so I just eyed it. This batch came out better than the first one! But they are also still cooling, so who knows…
I didn’t feel like ruining my Sunday so I just bought packages of 99 cent peeled chestnuts at the market underneath the Manhattan Bridge. They were easy to smoosh in my fingers so I just did that. About two packages gave me one cup, and although the package said preservative-free I have my suspicions. The chestnuts were moist and perhaps why my cookies don’t have as much chestnut-ty flavor, but overall they seemed fine.
I’ve had chestnuts roasted over an open fire at the Brandywine Museum in Chadd’s Ford, Pennsylvania. We can also get them in most of the markets around the holidays. I’ve roasted them and made chestnut puree, which I have put into buttercream icing and then used to frost chocolate cake. VERY yummy. I am surprised that other parts of the country don’t seem to have easy access to chestnuts!
for the commenters who were wondering about using packaged chestnuts:
i made these cookies using regular chestnuts that i had to roast and peel a few weeks ago (delicious!), but just last night, i decided to try using pre-packaged ones. IT WORKS! i just laid out the chestnuts on a baking pan (because they were a bit damp) and roasted them at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes. they dried out and i cooled them in the fridge for a few minutes before dumping them into the food processor. while the nuts had a crunch to them the first time i made the recipe, this time around, they blended in the with the dough a bit more, but they did not clump up as most had feared. SUCCESS!!!
thank you, deb, for a most amazing recipe. i visit your blog often and anything i have attempted to make under your guidance has been fantastic. my hubby thanks you, too!
I made these cookies for Christmas. Here in France, you can find roasted chestnuts in jars, liquid free (sometimes you’ll see one drop feeling so lonely at the bottom of the jar). I used them just so, and the cookies were delicious.
I was also pleasantly surprised when one cup of crushed chestnuts used up only half the jar (720 g), so I was able to do a second batch dairy-free for my allergic son who was delighted. So for the commenter who wanted info on weights, the amount of peeled chestnuts for one batch should weigh around 360 g, give or take one or two chestnuts.
After working on a play that involved cooking an actual five course meal I got to take home the leftover ingredients–including about 10 lbs of chestnuts. I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with them and these cookies sound delicious! Thank you for including the no-food-processor option.
I love Mexican Wedding cookies. But the ones I had usually have pecans or walnuts which have a really different texture than the weird bean/chickpea texture (which I find completely creeepy) of roasted chestnuts. So I’m wondering if these cookies have a soft glommy texture inside or a crisp texture? I know some people like the soft, so I’m unsure from the comments which it’s likely to be.
A.) I am making these as soon as I am back in the city, and,
B.) At the risk of sounding like a shameless plug, there is a french steak-frites restaurant on 52nd and Lex (where I may or may not be employed) that has a dessert called the Mont Blanc, which is vanilla gelato topped with chestnut cream, whipped cream, and toasted almonds, and it is HEAVEN! If you ask nicely, I’ll even give you the name :)
Hi Deb, I made these cookies using packaged chestnuts and they were delicious. Everybody loved them.
Thank you for the recipe, it’s definitely going to my favorite recipe list, can’t wait to make and eat them again.
Hi Deb – I moved to Paris just over two years ago from Boston not really knowing what a chestnut was beyond the topic of Christmas Carols. However, your dreams of unfettered access to chestnuts over here are not just a fantasy – this discovery (chestnut cream, chestnut cakes, chestnut ice cream) has been one of my favorites, although I’ve not tried to do them myself at home. The smell of the roasting chestnuts on street corners is now how I know it is winter. I agree, best thing ever!
Two words: exploding chestnuts.
I’m making the brussels sprouts and chestnuts, but I had to post here, too, because I got exploding chestnuts. Boy, that was fun. I pulled them out of the oven after five or six shots and quickly laid a heavy kitchen towel over the pan. About a half-hour later, I was able to shell most of them; we’ve had them in the fridge for a couple months, so I think they were old enough that the nut itself had shrunk away from the shell. I was able to peel them fairly easily then.
Anyhow, off to report on the delicious sprouts with chestnuts…
I just moved to the French part of Switzerland from the U.S., and I can’t get enough chestnut yogurt. So good, but it’s seasonal, and I’m dreading the day I walk into the store and can’t find it!
So, I was at the Korean market yesterday and I saw THESE: http://www.dan-d-pak.com/product/product.php?product_id=164 , which was SUPER exciting to me! According to my friend they are very common in large chain asian grocery stores! Thought you might like to know they exist. Yes, they are delicious, peeled, and mostly whole.
Oh! People have already talked about this haha. Well they are not damp but they are oily.
I meant to write this just after I made them, but way led onto way, as it is wont to do. In any case, this was my FAVORITE Christmas cookie this year–thanks for sharing!
Amazingly I have two American chestnut trees in my yard. This recipe is easy and makes for great cookies. I am always looking for more things since the chesnut trees produce an incredible yield. Thank you for sharing
Hi, I saw your peeled chestnuts and had a good laugh, you need to steam them once they come out of the oven and the skins will just fall off. Here’s how; remove chestnuts after roasted from oven, then wrap tightly in a dish towel, let sit (this is the hardest part) for about 5 minutes then enjoy, the skins will come off cleanly and easily!
So, I’m in the middle of “translating” (Google is doing the actual translating while I am typing) Pierre Herme’s book, ‘Macaron’ and I have come to the Macaron Sarah recipe which is basically a Green Matcha Tea macaron with a chestnut filling covering a small square of matcha ganache. I have never dealt chestnuts, but remembered your post about them. I was trying to find out what marrons glaces, pure de marrons and pate de marrons (and Google gave me such foolish translations!) and I knew that if Google didn’t tell me, Deb would..Deb would have the answers. And not only did Deb have the answers, but she provided a link to where I could purchase these items, and yay! I am on my way to attempting recipe 2 of many that I will make from Pierre Herme. Deb, you are the new Google! Merci beaucoup! A bientot!
We call them “nut balls”… simple, but not a name you can shout in the grocery store.
Exact same story with chestnut paste can at the airport. :( I was on my way to London and wanted to bake something for my cousins to introduce them to the wonders of chestnuts. (Right downstairs from where I live are chestnut trees! I used to roast them when they were in season (or falling off the tree) sadly, not anymore)
I used a 6 oz package of shelled, cooked chestnuts. Chopped it came to a cup. Just throwing it out there for people like me – chestnut loving but lazy!
Deb, don’t know if you’ll even see this but you don’t mention in the roasted chestnut cookies recipe if the butter should be salted or unsalted, or if in this specific recipe it doesn’t matter. Do you receive e-mail regarding recipes posted some time ago? Thanks for your reply. Paula/Richmond, CA
Paula — Unsalted is the norm, I will edit that in. If you only have salted, just nix the additional salt in the cookies. Enjoy!
Deb, thanks so much for your reply about the butter in the roasted chestnut cookies.
All the best, Paula, Richmond, CA
My husband surprised me with some chestnuts the other day and we roasted them and were all excited. And then one exploded in the oven and made a total mess. And we thought they tasted a bit like potatoes. Does anyone else think the same thing? Are there different kinds of chestnuts? I’m still going to give these cookies a try though. Powdered sugar covers a multitude of sins!
My fave chestnut recipes come from the book “Hedgerow (River Cottage Handbook)”. This contains the amazing chestnut flour macaroon!! Unfortunately they flopped the only time I had the chance to make chestnut flour for them (which I got free from a friend on a chestnut barrow).They had an amazing flavour but not enough air that time. I WILL get them right.
In answer to the previous comment – there are many types of chestnut. The toughest to skin that I have come accross are chinese chestnuts which are huge but unortunately not worth the effort like others. They dont have the best flavour. I can only recomend trial and error though as the flavour depends on the growing conditions like any other ingredient.
artichokes, check and now chestnuts, check. What about gooseberries?
Possibly some hundred people have said this already, if so, then skip to next paragraph: for marrons glacés it is easier to boil the chestnuts, then open them and then boil some more before you start the candying-process. Worked fine for me, fiddly work, though. I am so convinced it will be sooo much easier with the lovely chestnut knife I have bought in the Alsace last year. Really.
But, here is the best thing for the ice-cream fanatics amongst us: chestnut ice-cream. Custard ice-cream base (egg yolks & sugar then add milk and cream infused with vanilla, pod of course) and chestnuts – the vacum packed ones work just fine here, cook in a little milk until purée-able (if you do not have the youknowwhat in a tin) and make ice-cream. I might suggest, you start now – does that sound a little bossy? Sorry. Now go and buy. Or wait until my loooong looong project is finally online – ah, it will, someday, soonish. Sort of.
Oh, hi there again.
Forgot one thing: vacuum-packed chestnuts are quite dry, not so moist. I do use them a lot, for savoury dishes and sweet ones. And if they are good enough for Thomas Keller (French Laundry cookbook), they are good enough for me.
These came out so great! And I cannot believe how amazing my whole house smelled while roasting the chestnuts!
Mexican wedding cookies have always been a favorite, and I’ve got big love for the chestnut, so after I roasted more than I could eat went recipe hunting. SO good! Thanks and I absolutely second steaming the chestnuts in a towel when they come out of the oven; squeeze the package between your hands until it crackles to make things even easier.
This season begins appear vendors chestnut roasters in Lisbon.
To search with google “Assadores de Castanhas nas ruas” is the feast of São Martinho in the whole of Portugal.
(Roasters Chestnut streets)
Could chestnut flour be substituted?
Believe it or not, i have just read every single post on this subject … all I can think of is that i’ve got 6 vacuum sealed packs of pre-peeled chestnuts at home (200 miles from where i’m working) and now can’t wait to get back there and try these cookies! I can’t even remember what a chestnut tastes like, though my mother who adored tradition would buy them and roast them in the oven for Thanksgiving every year; but I can remember with amazing acuity and nostalgia the smell of them roasting on the winter streets of NYC where I lived and worked long ago :) Just for the record, Deb, you’ve destroyed my resolve to make only THREE kinds of Christmas cookies this year and call it “good” — but thanks all the same for these fantastic recipes, this one and 5 others that are on the MUST TRY list!
If you are a fan of chestnuts, as I am (my last name is Chestnut!) you haven’t lived until you have gone to the Chestnut Festival in Marraudi, Italy. The whole town smells of roasting chestnuts! They are prepared in every way imaginable. A steam engine train takes you there, you are greeted by the local band and it is totally charming. It’s in October, so check it out. Secondly, hot chestnuts from the NYC vendors due double duty; keep your hands warm and satisfy your taste buds! Will definitely try this recipe. Thanks!
So true – the French put chestnuts in Everything! I had a Thanksgiving meal (my hosts were being kind to a wayward American) where we had it in soup, stuffing, salad, and dessert. These look so good, I will definitely try them out.
A friend and I are in the process of planting chestnuts. Hundreds of them. Will likely keep at it until we fill up 40-50 acres or so. Can’t wait until we have nuts. That’s a few years off yet. Really have no idea what we will do with them if we are successful. Good ideas here.
Just bought whole roasted and peeled chestnuts in 4 5oz packs (sold as a snack!) at Costco yesterday for less than $6!!! I’ve been looking online for recipes and these are great ideas. I’m going to try glacéing them just because now I can!
For future reference …. after roasting your chestnuts, put them in a tea towel for 10 minutes, then peel. You should have no problems with the skin coming off if you do it this way. Will try your cookie recipe. I have about 20 lbs. from my hybrid chestnut tree and am looking for chestnut recipes. Happy cooking.
315 comments and no one says anything about how unclear this recipe is! Amazing. If you prepare one pound of chestnuts, why do you only use one cup in the recipe ? Shouldn’t you use the whole pound or around 500 grams ??? And what about the powdered sugar ? Don’t you mix ANY of it into the dough ?
It’s possible that others didn’t find it unclear. Nevertheless, I am happy to answer questions.
1 pound is the suggested amount to start with because I needed to round up as (at least in this country) I often find that several are rotten only after I roast them and a few more are hard too hard to get out. Rounding up adjusts for chestnut loss; better to have a bit too much than too little and be unable to make the cookie without buying more. Once shelled, I don’t think you will have as much extra you’d imagine, and if you do because you had a particularly excellent batch of chestnuts, they make an delicious snack.
A half-cup of the powdered sugar goes into the dough (see paragraph 3) and the remaining is used to roll the cookies in (see paragraphs 5 and 6).
Let me know if you have any more questions.
I just wanted to let you know that chestnuts can often be found at Asian grocery stores around fall/winter. I also found French Chestnut paste at Cost Plus. Hope that helps. xoxo, a fellow chestnut lover
Just finished making these to go into my Christmas cookie tins. You never disappoint, Deb, these are fantastic! A really nice take on Mexican wedding cakes. These will definitely be going into my Christmas cookie rounds, but I think I will call them Ternopil Cookies, because chestnuts remind me of the city in Ukraine where I used to live. The trees are so gorgeous when they bloom and as a kid I used to love collecting the prickly-skinned chestnuts when they fell off the trees, but nobody really eats them in Ukraine!
Got some dud chestnuts or else roasted mine too long–turns out, they don’t soften up any in the cookies. If (a) you don’t have a food processor and (b) the chestnuts are clunk-clunk hard when you begin (steaming/boiling doesn’t seem to help much either), you will end up with delicious cookies full of really hard bits.
@Katherine I made the mistake of adding chopped chestnuts before steaming or boiling them in some water to soften them up. I made a chestnut quick bread with chestnut paste and chopped chestnuts. Indeed the chunks were hard and in my opinion ruined the quick bread. Next time steam or simmer the whole chestnuts after peeling and gently chop and add to things.
Making and canning your own chestnut paste. I adapted the recipe from the River Cottage Preserves Handbook for Melissa’s Chestnut Jam
1lb (calls for 2.25lbs) chestnuts peeled
Scant 1C (calls for 2C) Sugar
Extra 1/4 C Sugar to flavor cooking water.
1 Vanilla bean pod scraped (calls for 1 tsp vanilla paste or extract)
1/4 C Honey (chestnut honey if you can)
1/4 C Brandy (can use other alcohols like rum)
Put chestnuts in water to cover. Add the extra 1/4C of sugar and whole vanilla bean. Simmer 20-30 minutes until tender. (scoop out one big chestnut and mash with a fork to test if done)
Drain chestnuts, but save the cooking liquid.
Put cooked chestnuts in a food processor and add 1/4 C of cooking liquid. Puree the best you can with that and add the 1/4 C brandy to further puree the chestnuts. Scrape vanilla bean into the food processor.
Add sugar to a saucepan along with honey and approximately 1/2 C of the saved cooking liquid. Melt sugar and honey and add this syrup to the food processor. Puree until very smooth. You can add more cooking liquid in 1/4 C increments until you get a smooth paste but not too loose. (If you add too much liquid you can heat the paste in a saucepan to evaporate some of the liquid) I also add the step of pushing the paste through a sieve to make is as smooth as it can be. Put in sterilized jars and keep in the fridge, freezer or can them.
I pressure canned my chestnut paste in 1/4 pint or 1/2 pint jars. 15 minutes at 10lbs of pressure. I try to use them up in 6-12 months. I’ve heard you can water bath can them 30 minutes, but I feel safer pressure canning because the temperature in the pressure canner gets higher than boiling. Canning this item is very advanced. In the USA they do not recommend canning chestnuts. In Europe they have no problem with it. Act according to your risk assessment.
Just FYI: They sell chestnut paste at Le Moulin Cafe on york & 78th St.
SJT — Thank you!
I did not read through every message, but I have been buying very nice chestnuts at the local large Asian store. Their produce is high quality at low prices. Chestnuts remind me of Europe in winter.
The chestnut recipe sounded interesting.
I was given a bag of organic dried chestnuts=====
Any suggestions for recipes using them?
Maggi — Are they vacuum packed? Sadly, at the time I’d made these, I was completely unfamiliar with the product but I now like them a lot — I’m speaking of the ones that come in bags and are not fully dried. I suspect they’d work pretty well here, though. My only worry would be the moisture. But of course, I’m not sure if yours are totally dry…
I have made about 4 batches of these in the last week – they are so good! I was wondering how long you think the shaped dough would keep in the freezer. I was thinking about making some now to bake off around the holidays.
Also, I have been adjusting the chestnut to flour ratio, in an effort to make them even more nutty. I’m doing one and a half cups of each, which seems to be the limit. They spread out a little more and are very crumbly, but very delicious.
Pretty sure I forgot the flour since I wound up with a giant puddle instead of cookies. This is why I shouldn’t bake when I haven’t gotten enough sleep.
I made these today, following the recipie exactly and they are fantastic! 5 stars!!!
I would love to try these, but with chestnuts purchased already steamed and peeled. Do you have an idea of your post-home-roasting yield? Thank you, Deb!
I don’t have the weight but in the recipe, I call for “1 cup of chopped chestnuts” from your roasted and peeled ones, so hopefully that should work. And do let us know! I see the already peeled ones around a lot more than I used to.
For those looking for weight measurements:
– 150g chopped chestnut meat
– 62g powdered sugar (for the 1/2 cup that goes in the dough)
– 250g AP flour
These look so delicious and would be perfect during the holidays. Can’t wait to try them!
These look delicious, and perfect for the holidays! Can’t wait to try them.
I bought a bag of chestnut flour to try to make chestnut macarons(not a success) could I use it in these do you think? How much?
I do think it could work (although it’s better if it’s not too smooth) but you’d need to swap by weight and I didn’t note it. It’s probably between 110 and 120 grams.
Just made these cookies… they are wonderful! Much easier to make them with ready to eat, roasted, shelled chestnuts that I buy in 100g bags (needed most of 2 bags to get the 1 cup of chestnuts, with a few left to snack on). No surprises of chestnuts rotten at the centre when you have to roast them from raw, and much quicker.
Can you please tell me the amount of chestnuts needed if I bought them already roasted and shelled?
I had a jar of roasted chestnuts that I bought on sale after the holidays. Decided to pull it out for quarantine. These are absolutely delicious and worth getting a jar of chestnuts for! Thanks to the person who posted the gram weights.
Would this work with chestnut puree? Not the French maron – it’s a german product.
I haven’t tried it before. What else is in it? If it has added sugar or oil, it might not be the same.
What else is in it? Good question. I checked and had not realized it has some sugar added but the base is described as “selected Maroni-type Italian chestnuts”. I suppose I can simply try your recipe and see what happens. If you want to see a photo of the can of chestnuts and the iconic Hungarian dessert made from it check out my blog. PS Great memories of you when you presented at Food Bloggers of Canada muah! https://kitchenbliss.ca/hungarian-chestnut-puree