January 6th, 2007

Marrons Glacés

Marrons glacés

(Marrons glacés from La Maison du Chocolat)


Available in shops from November to March, these glazed/ candied chestnuts are seriously ‘the’ most luxurious sweetmeats around. Upon reading up on it in D’s old copy of Larousse Gastronomique: The World’s greatest cookery encyclopedia, it says:… Chestnuts that have been poached in syrup and then glazed… Marrons Glacés were created during the reign of Louis XIV and are today manufactured chiefly at Privas, in the Ardèche…’


Ardèche, is in the South of France. It is the epicentre of the chestnuts, more than 50% of chestnuts in France are cultivated there. They do a chestnut festival in Autumn to celebrate it & many local restaurants will include a chestnut-based dish on their menu. One day I’d like to go & get stuffed on chestnuts… (although before this, I’m dying to go to a village in Alsace called Niedermorschwihr, where my heroine patissier Christine Ferber has her shop ‘Au Relais des Trois Épis’. – I’m currently working on persuading D to the trip – who says he is slightly tired of cakes right now…).

Concerning the origins that Larousse mentions – I have also read elsewhere that apparently a candied chestnut confection was served 150 years earlier in Piedmont, a northwestern area of Italy close to the border of Switzerland & France. – The origins of foods, just like the Tarte Tatin I wrote about, could sometimes have several versions to it, it seems.
Marrons glacés are a labour of love – it involves 16 different processes & is painstakingly time consuming. No wonder it is expensive (£1.85 each), but oh boy, it’s worth it.


Here is a rough description of how the chestnuts turn in to Marrons glacés:

First, the chestnuts are washed & sorted to eliminate those that are not perfectly round or has deep grooves. Then it is boiled to so that it is easier to peel the shell & the inner skin by hand. It is sorted again. Finally, the chestnuts go under a repeated process of being cooked for two days in a rich vanilla syrup (which gets concentrated as time passes). Eventually the flavour seeps into the very heart of the chestnut. Here is a link to a recipe.


This week:

Since I decided that my stall will open from 27th this year, I had the most mellow week. Which is a relief because I am still feeling bloated from all the eating I’ve done over the festive season, & am feeling unhelplessly lethargic.
In fact, this is part of the reason why I am not operating the stall til late January, because I think people would generally be staying away from chocolates & cakes post-Christmas eat-fest, & going on a mass-diet. So it’ll start on the 27th, that’s when I’ll be deviously counting on people putting down their salad forks & give up their dieting!!


  1. Another great place for candied fruit is ‘Aix en Provence’ where the speciality is the cavallion melon (which if you ever have a perfectly ripe one is amazing).
    I’m posting up a few bits and pieces about my Christmas in Provence – check it out. (I have put a link to this site on it so I hope that’s ok?).
    Also I FINALLY finished my piece on last year’s South American festival and you can link to it through my kiosk’s home page – http://www.barnys-place.co.uk

    Many Regards and Happy New Year – See you at the market!


    Comment by Barny - January 8, 2007 6:31 pm

  2. Happy New Year to you and your family!
    I was surprised to read in your last entry that you also have Beard Papa in London! Our family loves the cream puffs there and buy them regularly as there’s a shop near our house in Shibuya. They’re 130yen each which is about 60p! So cheap yet delicious!
    I hope you do even better at the market this year:)

    Comment by Akiko - January 9, 2007 5:49 am

  3. Barny, Happy New Year to you too! The truffles (mushroom kind) you mention on your blog sounds beautiful. I have only tried stingy shavings of the black ones in expensive restaurants & must admit, never been impressed as to why people call it a delicacy. But what you wrote sounds so good, I’m tempted to try a proper one soon…
    Aki-chan!!! Akemashite omedeto-! – Oh.my.God. 60p?! That is ridiculously cheap, I feel ripped off over here in UK, til you mentioned this, I thought £1.30 (UK price) was cheap… Funny tho, I can’t imagine your Dad eating Cream Puff… ;-)

    Comment by tamami - January 9, 2007 2:39 pm

  4. I tasted Marron Glacé in Belgium. It’s very sweet indeed but my husband loves it. He said it’s a very special indulgence besides the price… and it’s only a seasonal thingy. Another is the Crème de marrons de l’Ardèche cooked in Vanille which it’s actually the left overs/bits from making of Marron Glacé… My husband swears it’s the best… Our favourite way of splurging into it is to add dollops of beaten Crème fraîche (not those sweet canned version which it’s like shaving foam to me …:-P) on top of the purée & served in small dessert bowls.

    I also like this purée on warm pancakes… or mix into ice cream.


    Comment by pixen - February 6, 2008 9:55 pm


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