Unlike many of my foodie friends, I spent much of my holidays not cooking. 😉
Instead, I enjoyed food made by others, mainly family members…including an awesome chicken noodle soup made by B that was heavenly!
Who knew that plain macaroni used as noodles would be so yummy….or so fun!
Just prior to the holidays however, I experimented with a new recipe and a new ingredient: chestnuts!
So sort of pre-holiday cooking that was sort of related…Chestnuts roasting on an open fire anyone?
I was out at one of our local markets to pick up some veggies and I noticed a huge bag of “Italian Chestnuts”. They were shiny, round and a beautiful “chestnut” brown.
I put my hand in the bag and they felt so smooth and sleek…soothing even…like when you pick up a stone on a beach that has had its edges smoothed by the sea and you find yourself holding onto it and rubbing it like a worry stone. (Worry-chestnut!)
I had no experience with chestnuts. I had never roasted them or really used them in any way. I was curious, and they were pretty, so I bought a bag.
It was this purchase that led me to this chestnut recipe, which I found online. But prior to actually attempting the recipe, I had to research the process of getting the nuts out of the shell!
Click here for the recipe or scroll to the bottom of the post.
This was a fairly long process, so be sure to start this a while before you plan to make the muffins.
First step was to slice an X into each nut. This was the fun part as I used a good-sized knife and found it cathartic to slash at them!
Then I boiled them for about 25 minutes.
I question the amount of time…I also question the method. My muffins turned out well, but there were pieces of chestnut that were hard to chew through, if you could at all.
They seemed to be overcooked, with the boiling and then the baking.
If I were to redo this, I would boil them for half the time, around 10-15 mins and then check to see if the shells were ready to peel. I think 25 minutes was too long.
At the end of it, the shells had started to lift and open…as predicted!
Everything I read mentioned that the hotter they were, the easier it would be to remove the shell so I started peeling them right away.
Um…ow! And also, LIE.
Most of the shells came off in little strips. It was a messy, somewhat annoying and fingertip burning adventure, but I stuck with it.
Once the chestnuts were ready to go, I was finally ready to start following the recipe.
At this point, pick out 12 nice looking chestnut pieces. You’ll use these to top the muffins just before baking.
Oh and also….during the chestnut peeling, I also put my sliced sweet potatoes on the stove to boil.
Yep, multi tasking queen am I! 😉
So, on to making the actual muffins!
Dry ingredients first…no surprise there….
Wet ingredients mixed secondly…and separate….
I constantly have issues with my butter…although it’s usually my own fault because I have forgotten to remove it from the fridge and bring it to room temperature. So, I end up microwaving it.
And it doesn’t matter how short I time span I use, I end up with a severely softened (um..melted) centre and a maybe slightly softened exterior.
This explains the picture above and why my butter is in bits.
But it still worked! So onward we go…gently mix the two bowls together…
…and then add the remaining ingredients…
The mixture made 12 good-sized muffins which I topped with a bit of sugar and cinnamon, as well as a large piece of chestnut.
35 minutes later, I had a tray of lovely muffins!
These were definitely worth trying and they turned out quite well! I enjoyed the creaminess that the chestnuts added to the muffins which was nicely balanced by the light sweetness of the potatoes. As mentioned before, I would reduce the boiling time of the chestnuts or I would change the method altogether as it resulted in hard, and what I assume overcooked, pieces of chestnut. These were few and far between, but they were there and they tainted my muffin-enjoyment! 😉
- 1 1/3 cup flour
- 1 cup sweet potatoes mashed ( baked & peel )
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 5 tablespoons soft unsalted butter
- 2 teaspoons canola oil
- !/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- dash of salt
- 1/2 cup golden raisins
- 1 1/3 cup chestnuts chopped ( pre cooked and de-shelled )
- mixture of brown sugar, white sugar and cinnamon
- a few whole chestnuts for topping ( optional )
NOTE: The instructions do not include the mashing of the sweet potatoes nor the prepping of the chestnuts. Getting those two ingredients ready beforehand is…well…ideal. 😉
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
- In a large bowl mix the dry ingredients, flour, sugar, salt, baking soda , baking powder, cinnamon. Set aside
- In a medium bowl whisk the eggs, butter, oil, water, and vanilla. Mix the egg mixture into the flour mixture and whisk gently.
- Add the cooked sweet potatoes, chopped chestnuts and golden raisins. Mix lightly.
- Spoon mixture into muffin pan.
- Sprinkle topping mix on the muffin before baking. Top the muffin with a whole chestnut.
- Bake until golden brown.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown. Makes 12 muffins