This recipe was a 1959 contribution by a reader named Mrs. Pauline McConnell, who wrote, "I wish someone would revive the chestnut dishes of long ago. We always had baskets of chestnuts in our root cellar at home. One of our favorite dishes was chestnut cream. This dish is approximately 150 years old and is one which has been passed down from generation to generation in my family."
Note: To save time, you can purchase vacuum-packed, peeled, roasted chestnuts sold in jars. Avoid canned chestnuts, which lack flavor. To roast chestnuts yourself, score an X on the flat side of each nut all the way through the skin. Roast in a shallow pan at 400° for 30 to 40 minutes until tender, shaking the pan several times for even cooking.
1-1/2 pounds peeled, roasted chestnuts (see Note)
1-1/2 cups milk
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup heavy cream, whipped to firm peaks
Garnish: chocolate shavings
In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, simmer chestnuts with milk until soft, about 10 minutes. In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water and bring to a simmer until the sugar dissolves.
Drain chestnuts and puree in a food processor with sugar syrup until smooth. Transfer to a medium bowl and chill in the refrigerator until cool, 30 minutes. When cooled, stir in the vanilla, and fold in the whipped cream. Pile in a dish and chill before serving. If you wish, the cream may be garnished with chocolate curls.
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