When Beatrice suggested we do something with nuts for our next baking challenge, I knew immediately what I wanted to make.
This tart doesn't fit the ethos of this seasonal baking challenge we do every month.. local, seasonal, fresh produce.... Créme de Marrons is an imported french food product, and chestnuts aren't even in season here in Australia (are they?).
I decided to recreate this tart that we ate in a beautiful restaurant in Ardèche, France, just recently. I want to pay homage to it seeing as I bear a french surname, and isn't a lot of french cooking about seasonal produce and preserving it for the months when it is not available? I accept my own excuses.
We had made the trip to Ardèche, a region of mountains in the south of France primarily to visit Sylvette and Claude in their mountaintop home.
We travelled the windy roads around the mountains, passing many men collecting chestnuts from trees on the roadside. As well as men waiting a boar to be sprung in the woods by their dogs.
We ate the most "french" meal I had all holiday in a restaurant dedicated to creating a community in an area where "communities" are so small and far between, and serving locally grown and made food.
This is where I first tasted a slice of Tarte à la Crème de Marrons, with a little vanilla ice cream on the side. It was so so beautiful.
And really since then, I have thought about finding the recipe for it and making it at home.
After arriving home in Australia I began searching for the recipe, though at first I tried searching in english keywords. I tried all sorts of word combinations, to no avail.
A few days later, I thought to search in french... for a "tarte" and "creme de marrons" and to my excitement - it was found!
My french is mostly OK enough to have deciphered the recipe without a dictionary. However there were some translation issues, and I will include the recipe in french here too, because I think they way things are phrased in french are often quite poetic.
I especially love "Monter les blancs en neige", which I initially roughly translated as "climb the whites in snow", it actually just means to beat the egg whites.
Tarte à la Crème de Marrons - Chestnut Cream Tart
2 Oeufs - 2 eggs
175g Crème de Marrons - 175g Chestnut Cream
250ml Crème Fraîche
50g sucre - 50g sugar
1 Pâte Sablée - Shortcrust pastry
1. Mix the chestnut cream, sugar, crème fraîche and egg yolks.
1. Mélanger la crème de marron, le sucre, la crème fraîche et les jaunes d'oeufs.
2. Beat the egg whites to soft peaks (I think I overbeat them to stiff peaks and wasn't completely happy with baked consistency - though either way should work).
Fold delicately into the other mixture without breaking the "whites of snow".
2. Monter les blancs en neige.
Mélanger délicatement le tout pour ne pas casser les blancs en neige.
3. Prepare the pastry (I blind-baked store-bought pastry) and then pour in the mixture. Cook at 200°C for 30 minutes.
3. Verser la préparation sur la pâte.
Cuire au four 30 min à 200°C Th.6/7.
Serve with good vanilla ice cream! Try not to eat it all at once. This one didn't last 24 hours.