Love & Chestnut Purée

This is not a typical Valentine’s Day post. I don’t have a cute pink raspberry cake decorated with strawberries and whipped cream puffed into fluffy love hearts. Not a pink kind of lovely dovey Valentine’s Day post.

Ok, this is not entirely true because if you scroll down you’ll see that I couldn’t help myself by decorating the photo of the purée de châtainges, French for chestnut purée, with some pink love hearts.

Also, you might be thinking that I’ve really lost it here because it’s not chestnut season, so it’s rather impossible to buy a single chestnut here now. I know, I tried unsuccessfully last year. These photos where from around November of last year when there were plenty of chestnuts in the Papaya Pieces household. We decided to make some chestnut purée because Mr. H. had lovely memories of when he was small and his grandmother used to make them.

We decided to make them the same way. He then understood why his grandmother would start making it one day in advance: the peeling part. Peeling the hard shell around it required a lot of muscle work and resulted in broken, painful fingernails. Actually, I’m guessing the broken part will apply to most ladies. This was not so in my case because my nails are always as short as can be so I can play tunes on the piano. (I do not recommend this after a manicure). Not only was it hard work and painful, it took forever. Wait, there was also the inside softer shell covering the chestnut. Those required a lot of patience to take off too. It took us hours. We were going to have it for lunch but ended up having it for dinner!

What we learnt from this is that food can be an expression of love. Preparing chestnuts for hours, breaking your fingernails, just so that your loved ones can enjoy some purée de châtaignes, is a way of showing love. In the same way, my mum will spend hours preparing spring roles for us, and it’s so worth it.

Chestnut purée recipe

Now that we’ve also spent many hours making our chestnut purée, was it worth it? Definitely yes. The flavour is amazing.


1kg chestnuts

1 teaspoon butter

2/3 cup milk


black pepper

Put the chestnuts in a large pot with water. Bring to boil then let it simmer for about 3 minutes. Take out of the water. Pour cold water on top. Carefully make a small cut on each chestnut with a sharp knife. Peel all the chestnuts.

Put all the peeled chestnuts in a large pot. Cover with water and bring to boil. Let it boil for 45 minutes. Add more water if too much evaporates.

Remove the water. Add some butter, a tiny pinch of salt and black pepper. I wrote about 2/3 of a cup of milk, but just add as much as needed to make the consistency how you like it. Mash with a potato masher.

Have a lovely Valentine’s Day!

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  1. Saskia (1=2) 2014-02-14 at 00:17

    Love your post title Sofia – sounds like a French movie title. Your purée looks delicious! Did you eat it straight from the bowl? Curious to know how you served it. I participated in a long session of chestnut peeling last year and can still remember the pain – such a labour of love!

    1. Sofia 2014-02-14 at 00:19

      Hi Saskia! It was a side dish alongside some confit duck, which together is like a heavenly combination 🙂 Oh gosh so you’ve gone through the fingernail pain too! xx

      1. Saskia (1=2) 2014-02-14 at 00:22

        Ohhhh confit duck and chestnut purée sound like a marriage made in heaven.

  2. laurasmess 2014-02-14 at 03:33

    Oh Sofia, this is a beautiful post! I love chestnuts but I’ve never actually eaten chestnut puree (I have a jar of it in the cupboard but no idea what to do with it!). I’ve also roasted and peeled my own chestnuts, a frustrating and painful process… so I definitely understand your reflections 🙂 Your dish of glossy puree looks gorgeous. I will definitely give the duck and chestnut combination a go, sounds delish! Happy Valentines day xxx

    1. Sofia 2014-02-14 at 23:44

      Hi Laura, yes its a long and painful process. Maybe you can just heat up your jar of chestnut purée and have it with some duck confit 😉 Happy Valentines Day xxx

  3. Guillermina Bósquez Stover 2014-02-14 at 05:39

    Sounds labor intensive and challenging–why not! Love is certainly worth it!

    1. Sofia 2014-02-14 at 23:42

      Try making it when there are chestnuts around, it’s worth it!

  4. Amanda 2014-02-15 at 05:07

    So beautiful and decadent. Well done. Sometimes it’s worth the wait. And you had me at the title 🙂

    1. Sofia 2014-02-15 at 11:26

      I hope you try some one day Amanda 🙂

  5. Helen @ Scrummy Lane 2014-02-15 at 07:53

    I’ve never eaten chestnut puree before, only in stuffing or neat … they sell them hot from carts in the winter here in Greece … delicious! Thanks for sharing this!

    1. Sofia 2014-02-15 at 11:25

      It’s a lot of work to make it but it sure is delicious 🙂 xx

    1. Sofia 2014-02-21 at 00:44

      Go ahead Jessica, it’s a lot of work but its worth it!

  6. Laura Lynn 2014-02-16 at 01:35

    I’m like Laurasmess, I have a can of chestnut puree in the cupboard and I have no idea what to do with it. I think I got it around Christmas…had a recipe? For something? Any ideas what to do with chestnut puree Sofia?

    1. Sofia 2014-02-16 at 09:12

      Hi Laura, In France its typically eaten as a side dish (as if it were mashed potatoes), and typically with some duck or sausages for example. Enjoy giving it a try!

      1. Laura Lynn 2014-02-17 at 16:49

        Definitely will. I thought it was meant for dessert. Like a custardy filling for some sort of pastry.

        1. Sofia 2014-02-17 at 16:50

          I suppose it can also be, that would also be lovely!

  7. Pemberley Cup & Cakes by Rosa 2014-02-16 at 09:49

    Definitely, yours is a Valentine’s recipe, an example of devotion and love. And this puree is just scrumptious. I love chestnuts but I hate the peeling part… However, if you roast them first, the shell comes out really easily. I love the smell of roasted chestnuts in the streets when the autumn arrives.
    Besos, guapa!

    1. Sofia 2014-02-16 at 19:34

      Thats right they can be roasted too. I think at the time we followed a few French recipes that didn’t include roasting. I love the smell of roasted chestnuts too 🙂 Besitos!

  8. pianolearner 2014-02-16 at 18:07

    We have never made our own puree but we do have them roasted. Although I dont really like them own their own I love them chopped and mixed in with our home-made stuffing. You are right they take forever to peel, you always get a bit that jabs under the nail and the once you get them open, half of them still have the thin brown inner-film thing on them that takes another age to take off! Aargh!
    Thanks for the recipe I will try to remember to try that next season.

    1. Sofia 2014-02-16 at 19:41

      Yeah, getting the jabs under the nails is painful! Ugghhh 😉 Thanks to you too, I will remember to put them in some stuffing next season.

  9. Sam 2014-02-20 at 11:05

    I could just eat this with a spoon ! Yum xxx

    1. Sofia 2014-02-20 at 11:32

      It’s supposed to be a side dish but I know what you mean, I would be happy to eat loads of this with nothing else!

  10. Tala Ghalayini 2014-02-27 at 13:21

    luckily for me, its chestnut season here! what do u recommend trying this with? 🙂

    1. Sofia // Papaya Pieces 2014-02-27 at 13:28

      In France its typical to have it with duck, but you can have it with chicken or any meat really. Sort of imagine like it were mashed potatoes (but 1000 times more delicious!) xx


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