In our area, autumn is chestnut time, and there are several festivals to celebrate the chestnut harvest. I’ve written about the festivals before. You can find the posts here, here, and here. This year, I went to the Chestnut Festivals in both Saint-Pons and Olargues – over the years they have become firm favourites of mine!
The weekend the festival took place in Saint-Pons, the area was experiencing a cold-snap: temperatures plummeted to 6 Celsius, well below the seasonal average!! The stall-holders were well wrapped up against the cold! Below is a picture of a very warmly dressed Lex Page from Love la Foret! Lex and her husband Andy specialise in dried mushrooms – I bought some delicious cep (porcini) mushroom powder from them a little while back, and I needed a top-up!
The festival in Saint-Pons always has a large number of exhibitors and I found many familiar stands!
I adore roasted chestnuts, so I made a beeline to the square where the chestnuts were being roasted over open fires!
The hot chestnuts were delicious AND they warmed my hands!!
Bands of roving musicians provided entertainment, and there was lots to see and taste. Despite the cold weather this was a very enjoyable festival!
The Fete du Marron et du Vin Nouveau (the festival of chestnuts and new wine) took place in Olargues a week later. The weather couldn’t have been more different – it was beautiful! The sun was out and there was a marked difference in temperature – absolutely no need for thermal underwear!!
I had of course come for the roasted chestnuts!! The set-up in Olargues is much smaller than it is in Saint-Pons, but the chestnuts were every bit as delicious!
On a recent visit to L’Auberge de l’Ecole in Saint-Jean de Minervois, I tasted a tiramisu which had been made with creme de marron, a sweet chestnut puree made from broken pieces of marrons glacés. This was a very delicious dessert and I have attempted to recreate the recipe for you below. When you next visit L’Auberge de l’Ecole, you’ll be able to taste Brigitte’s authentic version!
Tiramisu with creme de marron
A delicious tiramisu, with a special flavour of autumn. You can make this in individual serving dishes, or use one large dish.
- 250g mascarpone (1 tub)
- 3 eggs
- 125g creme de marron (chestnut puree)
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- 12 sponge fingers (also called ladyfingers or boudoir biscuits)
- 200ml strong coffee
- 2 Tbsp Rum
You will also need six to eight individual serving dishes (I used glass preserving jars), or a single serving dish, large enough to hold 6 sponge fingers in a single layer.
1. Separate the egg yolks from the whites.
2. In a medium-sized bowl beat the egg yolks with 1 Tbsp sugar until white and thick. Add the mascarpone and the creme de marron and mix until lump-free.
3. Beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until soft peaks form. Add the remaining 1 Tbsp sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form.
4. Fold one third of the beaten egg whites into the mascarpone mixture to ‘loosen’ it. Then add the remaining beaten egg whites and fold in until the mixture is smooth.
5. Pour the cold coffee into a shallow bowl and add the rum.
6. To assemble the tiramisu, put some of the mascarpone mixture in the bottom of your dish (one third of the mixture if using one large dish). Dip each sponge finger briefly into the coffee and arrange in a neat layer in your dish. Top with another third of the mascarpone mixture and repeat with the sponge fingers. Finish with the last third of the mascarpone mixture and level with a spatula. If you are using individual serving dishes, break/cut the sponge fingers to make them fit.
7. Cover with cling film and leave in the fridge to chill for four to six hours.
Before serving you may wish to dust the tiramisu with cocoa powder but try it without the cocoa powder first. I find that it can overpower the delicate flavour of the chestnut puree.
Note: In her version, Brigitte uses chestnut brandy, which is pretty impossible to find. I found rum to be reasonable substitute, but if you can find chestnut liqueur it would be even better. Brigitte also omits the coffee and uses only alcohol to soak the biscuits in.